For Philomena Sunday, mother of nine, the 18th of August 2004, led like a tunnel down the mythical Valley of Death. On that gloomy Wednesday, her husband passed on, and the world literally locked down on her like vice-clamps.
For the next four years, subsequently, life went progressively from bad to worse, until eventually the lady found herself and all her nine children picking their meals, clothes and all of their livelihood from refuse dumps:
“Even the clothes we wear, we pick them all from the dustbin and wash them,” said Philomena, “sometimes, if we don't make it early to the dust bin, we don't have anything to eat at all. We pick bread, groundnuts, yam, everything we can find to eat.”
For several years, this was the lot of this beleaguered family from Warri, which had lost its breadwinner, as the young family, which includes two teenage mothers, continued to snatch a living from the jaws of death.
Unknown to Philomena and her young children, a strange lady had been watching them daily, at the refuse dump where they picked their meals. The lady didn't stop at that. She decided to find out what the woman and her children were scavenging for at the dump, on a daily basis.
Fired by her curiosity, the anomymous lady approached Philomena, who tearfully narrated her ordeal to the stranger: “She asked what I was doing at the dust bin every day, with these children, picking food, and I answered, 'My sister, things have been very difficult, and even when I went to people to beg, they usually disappointed me.”
Continued the destitute woman as she narrated her encounter with the strange lady, “Even the man I had, whom I thought was going to help me and my children and train them in school, disappointed me, so this is where we get food to eat.”
Moved by her story, the stranger promised to help her. Then she wanted to know if Philomena had ever heard of Prophet TB Joshua and his Synagogue Church of All Nations. When she answered in the negative, she told her to prepare to meet with the prophet, whom she was sure could help the widow and her family, if he heard their story and could confirm it.
Unknown to Philomena, the faceless lady had made a video clip of one of their previous scavenging trips to the refuse dump as she and her children rummaged through mountains of refuse, searching for food, disused clothes, shoes and all, as well as empty cans, which they sold for N50 apiece, to buy food.
The stranger hired a bus to convey the family to Lagos and armed the mother of nine with her video tape which she urged her to make sure Pastor Joshua saw, in order to believe their incredible story and possibly alleviate their suffering.
Last Sunday, a capacity-packed cathedral of misty eyed worshippers listened with rapt attention, as the pathetic story of the widow with nine young children was told from the mouths of the victims themselves, backed by the video clips from the unknown stranger.
It was soon time for the eldest of her daughters, Faith Abumere, to speak. She confirmed the story of the family's great suffering earlier narrated by her mother. Then she launched into her own personal experience. Because of the hell her mother and siblings were going through, she decided to find a man to whom she could be betrothed in marriage, in order to help rescue the family from its plight.
Unbeknown to Faith, however, the man she found was himself an unemployed person who needed help, equally. She became a teenage mother, bore him two children and increased the cycle of poverty.
“Even the clothes I am putting on now are from the dustbin,” she said tearfully. “But suddenly, my mother came one day to tell us that one would woman told her about Synagogue… I know that as we are here now, our story would turn around.”
The story of Anthonia Abumere, the second daughter of the family was no different. She too got lured into a relationship she thought would blossom into marriage and help rescue the family from their wretched existence. Unfortunately, her liaison turned out to be one with a man who was a lunatic. She too became a teenager mother and the family's problem worsened.
“I did not know that the man had a mental problem which, whenever it occurred, he would be misbehaving outside and people would be running from him,” narrated Anthonia. “Last June, the problem relapsed,” she went on, “ he beats me and my baby and sometimes he would kick us out,” cried Antonia, with a huge scar from a stitch that marked her pretty face, cuddling her equally lovely infant baby.
So, back to worse poverty she crawled, prostrate before the elements and a pitiless world. As the audience sat glued to their seats, the voice of Prophet Joshua cut them out of their contemplation: “That marriage should be immediately terminated. It's a wrong marriage caused by poverty… your future first, before marriage. Let them face their career and future. If the Lord says the will marry tomorrow, they can marry tomorrow – but that marriage should be stopped for now.”
Turning to the family as he preached to his congregation, Prophet Joshua noticed little Esther, her exquisite little face smudged by hot tears: “Wow! What a beautiful girl,” he exclaimed. “If you don't help this one now, she would turn out to be like her sister who married a mad man,” said the prophet, shaking his head, sadly.
Prophet TB Joshua called on his congregation to help restore the family. He said the family would first undergo deliverance. “We must do whatever we can to restore this family and make them part of our families and counsel them; we must not allow these children to be destroyed.”
Thereafter, he made a cash donation of N500,000 to the family in addition to 10 bags of rice and his trademark gift of the Holy Bible, promising further assistance to help educate the children. Other cash gifts and donations started pouring in from the congregation, as well as from watchers of Emmanuel TV, worldwide, who had been following the live telecast of the Synagogue Sunday service.
Donors included a caller, Josephine, from Denmark, who offered clothes and other support for Philomena and her children. Another caller, Mike, from Abuja, offered little Esther scholarship from primary school through secondary school. A regular female worshipper at the church opted to pay for accommodation for the family, as well as an offer of scholarships to four, out of the family's nine children.
SOURCE: National Life – Vol. 2 No. 66 – Saturday October 17th 2009
Development / Ghana / Africa / Modernghana.com