The Oasis of Hope Initiative Skill Acquisition Centre, otherwise called Project Hope has on Saturday 25th March 2023 graduated and empowered another set of sixteen youths with sewing machines at the 16th graduation ceremony held at its training complex located along Umunede/Umutu Road, Ute-Okpu, Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State, bringing the total number of those graduated to six hundred and eighty five.
In his welcome address, Rev Thomas Ukwute, Chairman of the Oasis of Hope Initiative, who anchored his speech on Deuteronomy 8:2a stated that “this scripture deals with the reality of life, the importance of remembering the challenges of our life journeys, the opportunities it offers us to truly appreciate what God has done for us and the need to use those opportunities to positively impact our world, especially those within our sphere of influence”.
In his words, “Project Hope is not just a charity organization, but a life changing institution; whose purpose is not only to train and equip the youths, but to mold their character and bring them close to know Christ in person, so that when they leave the Centre, they will become true followers of Jesus. Project Hope represents giving hope to those who don’t see hope all around them. This is a life changing place where your mindset can be changed. Project Hope is a place where, if you come, no matter how bad you are outside, your life will be changed by the transforming power in the blood of Jesus to make you a better person.
Rev. Uwkute further stated that “it is not because I have so much to give that I am doing this. But it is a vision given to me by God as a result of the deprivation and ‘demeanment’ I suffered as a ten year old child when I asked my elder brother to give me Christmas clothes which made me to vow not to beg money from anybody. It was while I was musing over what to do as a result of the vow I had made, as I peered through the moon-lit sky from the window of my mother’s hut that an idea to sell fire wood came to me. It was from the proceeds of the fire wood sales that I was able to buy myself Christmas clothes the following year, ventured into other businesses and invested in real estate as a teen to awe and admiration of my parents and siblings.”
Reverend Ukwute, who is the General Overseer of Anchor of Hope Ministries, further stated that “the Centre currently offers training in Fashion and Design, Shoe and Bag Making, Catering, Baking and Confectioneries and Decoration ably manned by experienced and dedicated teachers, staff and volunteers”.
He further explained that beyond training and empowering the youths, the Centre also carries out constant monitoring and evaluation on the students to ascertain their level of growth and progress through unannounced visits. In his words, “so far, the visits have brought great joy and excitement to me as I see the level of their development and growth from the tiny seed we sowed in them. Interestingly, majority of them have started their own workshops and are now training others who were like them before; some have secured employment in garment making factories, while a few have returned to school using the proceeds from what we taught them to sponsor themselves ”.
Reverend Ukwute, who said his riches is not in his bank account but in the lives of people he has impacted, thanked partners like The Anchor of Hope Ministries, Grace International Fellowship of Churches, Celebration Christian Centre, Livermore, California, USA, His Excellency, the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and others who have been supporting the Centre, while equally drawing the attention of all to the needs of the Centre which include: fifty industrial sewing machines to transit from the manual ones, two self-powered welding machines to kick start the welding and fabrication unit, full catering equipment, tools for leather works and leather sewing machines to enhance the shoe and bag making workshop, one hundred and fifty million naira to continue the building, especially the completion of the guest house for visiting teachers and the building of the ICT centre, as he revealed that he is looking forward to a time when he would have four hundred students on campus with the Centre’s nineteen different departments fully subscribed.
The Guest Speaker, Dr. Charles Apoki, anchored his speech on “Developing Your Skills to Create a New Future” using the Parable of the Talents in Matthew chapter thirteen as his theoretical framework.
“The seeds”, according to Apoki, a renowned Medical Doctor, farmer, educationist, and serial entrepreneur, “have the same genetic composition and potentials embedded in them. It was the soil that they fell on that determined their productivity.
“You can attend the same university, receive the same lecture but it is your mind that will determine the outcome of your life. Your mind is very important. You could have been in the same environment here, receive the same lectures and produce different results. Don’t blame demons.
“Until your mind is renewed, you cannot be transformed. Earl Nightingale did a research and followed people who graduated at the age of twenty six and followed them for forty years until when they are sixty six. They found out that only 5% did very well and were financially independent. Of a hundred, five were doing very well, twenty had died, while the remaining ones were depending on people to survive.
“The essence of this lecture is to increase the percentage of success among you so that you can exceed the five percent. Why did the five percent succeed? They had a different mindset. If you think like every person, you will be like every person. If you think normally, you won’t produce extraordinary result.
“What are the things you need to know that will help you? One, your intent of coming here would determine the outcome of your life. Your reason for coming here matters. When I went to Medical School, I didn’t go there to be a professor. I went there to kill poverty and illiteracy in my family because I came from a poor home, which often leads to rejection.
“I got angry one day and went to meet my dad to ask him why we are poor and he said to me “my son, it’s because I didn’t go to school. But go to the school that I didn’t go. Read the books that I didn’t read. Take my name to where I couldn’t take it to. So, I had a blueprint in my hand, handed by my father while I was in Medical School. So, when people were joining cults, I didn’t join them.
Two, value yourself. It is because you don’t want to beg, that’s why you are here. Begging is profitable but it’s not hounourable. I told myself, “None of my classmates will come from the United States or Europe and intimidate me with wealth”.
“Value yourself. Hate to beg. Hate to owe house rent. Hate to introduce yourself to people. Let people introduce you to people. Hate to be taken for granted. Feel insult so that you can get insight. What anger do you have? What bitterness do you have? What pain did you leave in your family that you want to correct? If God was satisfied with your family, you would not have been born. You are not a product of sexual copulation. You are a purpose waiting to change the history of your family.
“Three, don’t compare yourself with finished products. See yourself as a potential. Prayerfully and intentionally move upward. Deliberately and intentionally pray like Ruth that said “let me go out into the field of the man with whom I will find favour”. Ruth had manner of approach. When you need somebody’s money, treat him like royalty and you will get their loyalty. If you treat someone like trash, you won’t get their cash. When the world sees your effort, they will help you. Like Ruth, demonstrate perceivable value that your customers would notice and bring stream of income to you. Study to know the appetite of the rich and offer service to them.
The guest speaker, dignitaries and a host of other clerics from the Anchor of Hope Ministries, ex-students, friends and family members of graduating students, members of the press and other well-wishers by Reverend Ukwute in company of his amiable and supportive wife, Pastor Gladys were giving a walk-through of the exhibition stand displaying the projects of the students which included dresses of different kinds, shoes, sandals, bags, and insecticides, which were acknowledged by all to be of high standard, to the awe and admiration of all.
High point of the graduation ceremony was a special recognition and award presented to miss Precious Enogheghase, who though a student, has demonstrated uncommon leadership, initiative and oversight by playing the role of a Matron to her fellow students in the temporary absence of the Matron of the Centre. For this, Revered Ukwute gifted her an industrial sewing machine and two hundred thousand naira (N200,000) to set up her shop.
Speaking on behalf of the graduating students, Precious expressed gratitude to Reverend Ukwute for giving them a meaningful, better life of entrepreneurship while urging the youths out there to avoid criminality and utilize the opportunity that Project Hope has to offer, just as she called on people of goodwill to support the Centre.
The Centre which commenced in 2005 was instituted to “build broken lives with God’s love” under three thematic focus: Human Capital Development, Community Development Outreach and Talent/Potential Discovery, Development and Deployment Initiative, has so far graduated and empowered over six hundred youths, drawn from across the Niger-Delta with starter packs having been trained tuition-free including free feeding and accommodation for two years.
In his closing remark, while presenting the sewing machines to the graduating students, Reverend Ukwute Projects like this are capital intensive because the students are trained, fed and accommodated for free because we believe that these ones will succeed and when they succeed, we expect them to do the same to others. When you leave here tell others that there is a place that is a safe haven for them to come.