The Catholic Church has commenced a programme of hope and rehabilitation for the over 2,000 women widowed largely by the Boko Haram insurgency in its parishes in Borno, and Yobe States including part of Adamawa State in the North-eastern part of the country.
Speaking with journalists at the workshop on financial management organised for the first batch of the widows who were selected to benefit from the scheme, the Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese of the Church, Most Rev. Oliver Dashe Doeme, said the initiation was in keeping with Christ's teaching that the less advantaged members of the society should be supported.
He said the widows needed to be empowered, having been made to go through a lot of suffering after their husbands' death.
Doeme said: "The widows suffer a lot once the husbands are gone, they become neglected, most of the family members do not come close to them, let alone to help them.
"We have an obligation to take care of the poor and needy. So we call the widows first for the workshop and then to give them a little assistance that will help them to take care of themselves. We want them to be able to go back to establish small businesses."
He added: "Our major target is to help them take care of their children, for many of them are left with six, seven, ten children with no work and they need assistance from somewhere to raise these children."
Doeme said: "Right from the word go, the church has always been taking care of orphans, widows and other less privileged in the society as that was the reason for our Lord's coming, Jesus Christ was doing good and was particularly taking care of the poor.
"In my capacity as a leader of the church and a representative of Jesus Christ, the Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese which covers Borno, Yobe and parts of Adamawa State, I have to take up the challenge of taking care of the widows in our parishes in the area."
He said the church standing in the place of Christ the widows who have no place to run to have to run to it and it has no choice but to assist them. The Bishop, who said after the workshop the widows would be given some financial assistance to start up a businesses, disclosed that the first batch of those to be assisted are in Borno/Yobe axis and that the train would move to Adamawa axis by weekend.
He also disclosed that in the next phase the widows would be assisted to acquire skills, which would lift them from their present situation upward.