By Ita Akpan
“I wouldn’t want anyone to be an orphan or any child to have the experience of the orphanage.”
Those were the words from an aged woman, when she recounted her experiences when as an orphan many years ago, who people around her describe as the “Mother of all Nations” Mother of Many, a Good Samaritan woman of our time” Madam Blessing Duke, 97.
Madam Duke is a caretaker and proprietress of the Blessed Hope and Faith Foster Family, a Less Privilege Home in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.
As she is popularly called by many, Madam Duke remarked over the week while charting with journalists in Calabar. It opines that the home since established in 1978, has catered for over 200 abandoned children.
Her words she said, “My first advice is that I wouldn’t like anyone to have the kind, terrible experience I had many years ago as an orphan,”
“It is a very saddening and awful experience for any kid child to be born of a mother after that, such a child didn’t meet anyone to be calling my mom or couldn’t see anyone being a dad. It is traumatic; it is suicidal to arrive into the world with such uncertain circumstances’”
Anytime I look at their faces, tears ran down my chin. I recalled the way their mothers will abandon them into the gutter, streets, and uncompleted buildings without taking proper care; often these children would sick and die in the process.”
When I recounted such experiences, my 8 children joined hands together to set up this home so that I could cater for these ones.
“The home managed and trained over 200 abandoned children since established in 1978 coupled with the experience I had as an orphan many years back.”
“I want to say during my days, as an orphan, it was never an enjoyable experience, so I wouldn’t want any of you here to wish your children.
We strive hard to let them have a better experience with a better lifestyle and formal education as God will lead us.
The building outside my children built it for their vocational training, while 12-children here who are in the age range of 0-6-years someone bears the responsibility of paying their school fees for us.
We can also support them to erect a place of shelter, with sponsors from my children and other individuals who wish to.”
On the current number of children at the Home, Madam Duke said:
“Currently, we have up to 50 of them; some are here with us, as you can see them around.
The majority of our homes children stay at our extended Home at Archibong Eso, those in Archibong Eso, five of them are in
Universities, while the ones here are in Kindergarten, Nursery,
primary and secondary Schools. ”On how it all started, Madam Blessing stated that it was after 1970, as I served God, during that time God told me, “I am going to enlarge your territory” it was after that message from God my children joined hands to set up this home we see today. Although my children have instructed me not to fully expose my painful experiences as an orphan because it is not a story to be told.”
“My husband died some years ago, and we had all the eight children in
the Northern part of the country, and currently we had 70-biological children in the family,” On whether the home needed any government support, she replied, “That is ‘a tall hope’ waiting for the government support. That means the children might starve and become sick.
Does it mean that the government didn’t know about our existence? They do. Why? The reason is that our home is a registered home with the Cooperate Affairs Commission. So we should not go there.” Concerning adoption, the Good Samaritan woman said.
“We do not welcome adoption; we instead train them to adulthood because we don’t know those who adopted them where they took them to.
Whether they usually take good care of them or not, we do not know, but we don’t accept adoption; we care for them the little way we could.
We are not so rich, but the little we have, we support them, some of them are in Overseas doing what they can for themselves, they also send their meager supports here too,”
“I feel joy and happiness in my heart whenever I see these children with me; we don’t want any of them to cry, feel sad or lonely, so we strive to make them feel at home at all times.
We hand them over to God every day, and we compromise nothing here. That is the secret of our success,” Madam Duke maintained, who is also a member of the Assemblies of God church.