Project Tabitha brings joy to indigent communities at yuletide
“Mercy to the needy is a loan to God and God pays back those loans in full” Proverbs 19:17 (Message Translation).
If there is a time for the scripture above to reverberate in the heart of every Bible-believing Christian, there is perhaps no better time than now. If there is a time for the injunction therein to find concrete expression and be carried out to the letter, there is no denying the fact that this is the best of such times.
If the truth be told, Year 2015 was a very tough and difficult year as it was principally characterized by economic hardship. To say that many individuals and families lived below the poverty line would be an understatement, considering that very many were indeed crushed and submerged in the global recession, in which every nation and community had its fair share.
The thought of Yuletide was a nightmare to many as they could not afford to buy the clothings, food and other items needed for the season.
This obvious need and its attendant depression was perhaps the propelling force behind the depth of compassion and love showered on the over five hundred families that thronged the Ile-Epo area of the Ikorodu town of Lagos State, South West Nigeria on Saturday 19th December 2015 to benefit from the largesse provided by Mrs. Tinuola Agbabiaka-led Non-governmental organization, Practical Christian Living Initiative (PCLI).
As the name suggests, PCLI believes in practical Christianity, not lip-service, head-knowledge or religiosity. Hence, they uphold that all biblical injunctions must be action-driven, especially as it relates to day-to-day living and relationship with fellow men, be it in the nuclear family, extended family or community.
Unlike other groups that focused on giving out relief materials to widows and orphans to celebrate the Yuletide, Mrs. Tinuola Agbabiaka argued that “there are many men/women and children who are not widowed or orphaned but are very poor and unable to feed. There are many who are in the dregs of society and need a raise to make the festive season worthwhile. That is why PCLI is focusing on bringing joy to indigent families so that each family can celebrate together and be happy.”
“People don’t have to be widowed or orphaned before they can qualify for help. Families that are intact, but indigent should also be assisted”, she noted.
And so it was for thousands of residents Ile-Epo Oba in Ikorodu town that day at the inaugural outreach of Project Tabitha: (Bringing Joy to Homes). The team, led by Mr Oriyomi Agbabiaka and his delectable wife, Tinuola stormed the area with household items, clothing materials, shoes, bags and more importantly, food items worth several thousands of Naira, which they distributed freely a large crowd of residents, numbering over five hundred.
The crowd gathered following a public announcement and invitation by the Project Tabitha coordinators who drove to the open space at the filling station located at the Ile Epo Oba Bus Stop for them to pick up the items of their choice at no cost.
The crowd responded spontaneously and the NGO’s officials at some point had a hectic time ensuring that everyone went home with some of the items which they brought to the venue in several trucks and cars.
It was indeed an exhilarating experience as many people smiled to their homes with new and semi-new clothes, suits, trousers, gowns, skirts, blouses, pairs of shoes and even towels. Some carted away food flasks, kitchen utensils, microwaves, etc. Other booties included hand bags, bags of rice, cartons of noodles, semovita, among others.
So much was their joy that the people sang and danced to the melodious tunes of gospel music being dished out by the disc jockey (DJ) at the venue.
In a media interaction in the cause of the event, the Project Tabitha’s Visioner, Mrs. Tinuola Agbabiaka, who hinted that she is also a gospel music minister and philanthropist, explained that the PCLI vision came due to the burning desire to reach out to needy families.
She maintained that her outreach to Ikorodu came out of a realization that some people may not be classified as poor or less privileged, but they have pressing needs which they find difficult to meet due to challenges in the families.
According to her, ”A lot of NGOs reach out to widows, orphans and the less privileged. But a lot of families are in need even if they are not widows or orphans.
“At PCLI, we cater for the home, the family, hence we have to reach out to indigent families at grassroots level. Before now, we have focused on holding couples’ dinners and other talk shows where we teach practical ways to tackle issues in the home and keep the fire of love burning, but now, we see the need to leave our comfort zone and reach out to families at the grassroots”, said Agbabiaka.
Asked how much it cost to buy all the items distributed at the event, she said, “we had to reach out to our friends for support, for clothes and food items and the response has been tremendous.”
“Needs are relative. We reach out to provide the normal individual needs. Like Dorcas in the Bible, we have shoes, all sorts of clothing materials, food items, household utensils, microwaves, food flasks, suits, pairs of trousers, shoes, etc., most of them brand new. Our target is 100 families but as it stands, God has exceeded that number as we are able to reach over 500 families! Solely supported by individuals who have a yearning to make a difference, we are giving clothes(mostly brand new), pots, coolers, toys, school bags, shoes,cups,plates etc!). All types of household items including a microwave, which came in useful to a small roadside restaurateur. We are also giving out food items like rice, cooking oil, noodles, chinchin etc.”
Speaking further on what can be done to address the needs of the largely impoverished masses in Lagos and other states of the federation, she said, “There is a lot the government can do although it cannot provide the needs of everyone.”
“You have the rich and the poor. We create awareness and a platform for people who have a lot to give out to those in need.
Government should support NGOs to reach out to places it cannot go. Practical Christian Living Initiative (PCLI), as an NGO was established eight years ago. It is family focused. We relate with couples. We have programs for couples. We have to ensure that the proper values are inculcated into homes. We address marital issues. We also teach singles the right values even before they get into relationships”, Agbabiaka noted.
“We have been to the United Kingdom for our couples’ program and next year, we will be in the United States of America to hold same. By God’s grace, testimonies abound as to the great healing and restoration that our program has brought to homes and relationships. Next year too, we hope to be in Abuja and Port Harcourt for the couples’ summit.”
A special feature of the event was a raffle draw to pick 10 primary school pupils and 10 secondary school students in the Ile-Epo Oba community for scholarship by Project Tabitha.