The Lagos Central Council President of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul (SSVP), an international charity organization, Mr. Jude Ohaeri has called on corporate bodies and governments at all levels to support the work of charity organizations in the country, especially the SSVP, in their efforts in helping the poor and needy in the society . The International Confederation of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul (SSVP) is a Charity society founded in Paris, France in 1833 and domiciled in the Catholic Church. In Nigeria, the charity works of this society commenced in 1960 when the first Conference was founded in Ebute-Metta, Lagos. Ohaeri who made this call recently in Lagos, noted that the work undertaken by SSVP is enormous as the society helps all persons in need irrespective of religion, tribe, profession or gender. On how the SSVP currently gets its funding, he stated thus:
“We get our funding from our benefactors, contribution of our members and donations from various parishes in the Archdiocese of Lagos.” In this regard, he appealed to the government to also support the work of charity. “As at today, we have not gotten any assistance from any level of government, but it is something we will cherish. This is more so because the services we render complement or lift a bit of the burden the government is obliged to carry. We also seek more support from corporate organizations. We are hampered by paucity of funds and enough hands to carry out our work of charity, especially in this time we find ourselves.” He added that the work of the society which is channeled through its conferences (units) in over 180 parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, entails attending to the less privileged by distribution of food items, medical attention, petty business set ups etc.
During the recent COVID-19 lockdown, we distributed food items valued at about N68m to various households in Lagos. This excludes medical bills paid on behalf of some vulnerable people within the same timeline of March – April, 2020.” On the areas covered by the society during these trying times, he revealed thus: “We covered the entire Lagos, reaching out to over 23,800 households and 1,000 inmates of correctional centres. We used about 130 conferences in the parishes of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos. “Before the challenges posed by COVID-19, our normal work as a society in the Church is to provide interventions to help the poor and the needy in the various jurisdictions our conferences are located. ‘ These interventions include payment of medical bills, school fees, empowerment through skills acquisition, Prison Apostolate, provision of food ration, accommodation for the homeless, etc. Post COVID-19, we shall continue with these interventions because it is our vocation.