_Miss Amanda Etuk, a native of Ikot Obio Etan and founder of Jessi & Reuben Foundation on Friday 27th December in a chat with Ibomplaza News Media, sheds more light on the foundation, its achievements so far and the reason for the donation of a Signage._
*Give us an insight to who you are and the foundation itself*
My name is Unyime Amanda Etuk, I am the founder of Jessi and Reuben Foundation. It has been on officially since December 2014.
Jessi & Reuben are meant to be my grandparents who were from Ikot Obio Etan, Nsit Ibom Local Government Area. Jessi is my grandmother while Reuben is my grandfather, whom unfortunately I didn’t meet but his legacies and the things he cares about has been passed-on to his children that I have met including my grandmother and my father. So this is the continuation of the things that he believed in and it’s a way to bring community together and to always have a footprint where we are from.
*What is the foundation idea of empowerment and how have you achieved it so far*
The foundation believes that empowering a person, is for that person to be able to earn money for themselves so that they’re not really reliant on anyone. The aim is not for people to really look to the foundation, but to look to themselves as their source of help. It just shows that you can help another person, so that’s the aim of the foundation.
What is important is that there’s continuity in our empowerment program.
Some month ago, my mother came to the village and she was going about her business when she saw someone that have been empowered with baking and cooking courses carrying some donuts and pufpuf to the market for sell. As a person that really touched and warmed my heart because it wasn’t just about the training that she did for 3 months but the fact that after the that training she has somewhere to go everyday to trade. It isn’t about millions but the fact that she has somewhere going to, that alone was very touching for me.
Coincidentally, we’ve had someone who was a beneficiary of a Keke napep tricycle, coming from the church on the Christmas day riding the tricycle. So these are the things really bringing joy to us. So yes, we see that people are making us of tools and things we gave them and that’s the reward basically for doing that. For the fact that this is exactly a year after and we’re still seeing this items, then there’s hope.
*What is the foundation plan for this year*
We started the foundation like I told you in December 2014 and every year we have a chief area that we focus on.
In early years we focus on medical outreaches and health generally. Health, football and youth & women empowerment are things we focus on.
For this year, we decided to do something different, that is to literally put Ikot Obio Etan on the map.
Last year with our empowerment program, we had a lot of people who are from this village who have gone on to do great things and become professional in different spheres of life. But the part that was so funny about last year was the inability for the dignitaries invited and other people to locate this village. That immediately was a message for me for what should be done this year because as much as we are doing things in the community, we need to put it on spotlight for people to be able to find us. If you’re talking about this great place that’s upcoming, so how do people get here? So it might seem for a lot of people not understanding why we need to find us.
So if you’re building Ikot Obio Etan to be a great place then you need a place that people can easily find. If you’re going to the airport, you don’t need to ask so many questions on how to get there. So we’re aiming for this place to be a focal point in Akwa Ibom State, so this is a place that everyone should be able to find.
Another reason for the project is to prevent unwanted accidents caused by people taking the wrong choice going to where they didn’t expect. It also create Community identification to avoid the unwarranted delays that can always occur while going the wrong way.
So today, is a sign post at Afaha Offiong roundabout, tomorrow it might be a different landmark that people can easily identified with Ikot Obio Etan. In all we’re taking steps to ensure that people are proud to be from here, that everyone can play their part in making the community great without waiting to become anything. Once you’re from here and you’re identified from this village, this village is on the map, then you can do your own part to even make the village more outstanding. So this is the whole idea of Jessi & Ruben Foundation.
*What is the foundation plan for next year*
Next year, we’ll still continue with more empowerment. A set of people have learned some other things and so by 2020 December, God keeping us alive another set of people will be empowered for business and careers that they can start. So that’s the vision the vision for next year.
More empowerments, and hopefully as the year progresses, maybe a landmark center or something we can do here that our people can be actively employed. For next year we’re looking at empowerment again.