Sherifat Aregbesola: A Compassionate Friend of The Needy
She does not appear to be the noisy type. Yet, her heart is full of compassion for the poor, the needy, the elderly, and the indigent students. Nothing gives her joy than putting smiles on the faces of the segment of the Nigerian populace.
She was born in 1960 in the Kaduna, a place that used to be the hotbed of Northern politics. She is a graduate of Catering and Hotel Management from the Lagos State Polytechnic. She is Sherifat Abidemi, wife of the former Governor of Osun State and the incumbent Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola. Her post-qualification professional experience spans industries including the hospitality, print, aviation and education sectors.
Until her emergence as the First Lady of the State of Osun, Mrs Aregbesola has been the symbol of motherhood and an exceptionally supportive wife. Sherifat is the Founder and President of the Sheri Care Foundation (SCARF).
SCARF is however, a development-focused non-profit organisation established in 2010 to render care to the less-privileged in a way that their status would not hinder their becoming active positive contributors to the development of the society.
In line with the compassionate heart of Sherifat, her Foundation holds the poor, the needy and the elderly as well as indigent students as vital components of the population. According to SCARF, ‘’we are convinced that they can be positioned to make positive contribution to the society through our development-focused efforts at improving their health status, enlightening and facilitating them on sanitation and hygiene to prevent avoidable diseases, facilitating economic opportunity and promoting numeracy and cultural revival.’’
Harping on its mission, SCARF says it is devoted to rendering care to the less-privileged irrespective of their age and physical ability. Under the programme architecture of the Foundation, ‘’we work to promote and strengthen the capacity of the less-privileged to self-help; facilitate economic opportunity for the poor; promote health, sanitation and hygienic status of the poor communities; influence policy decisions across the land to expand empowerment opportunity for the less-privileged; and promote numeracy and cultural revival among the young people.
During the Aregbesola administration, Sherifat showcased an exemplary profile of mother to all. She was an epitome of care and love as the chief host in the Government House, Osogbo.
Her concern for the welfare and happiness of people prompted her to establish SCARF, with
activities revolving around care for the aged, the needy, people with physical challenges, women, widows and the young ones. She also has a special interest in the issues of environmental conservation especially climate change and environmental sanitation.
She devoted a lot of her energy, resources and time, as the President of SCARF to a statewide grassroots campaign to bring about attitudinal change among the people in the area of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
Her focus is to engender total community sanitation. This campaign has taken her to various parts
of the state meeting rural poor and the needy. The campaign has assisted in making many communities in the state engage in self corrective measures by constructing indigenous and affordable toilet facilities in their homes and communities thereby reducing diseases associated with the unclean practice of Open Defecation.
Her efforts in the area of sanitation, which led to hundreds of rural communities becoming Open Defecation Free and mobilising her colleagues in other states towards embracing CLTS, have been so outstanding thereby attracting recognition by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Fund in recognition of her personal engagements and campaigns to eradicate open defecation appointed her
Working in tandem with the goal of CLTS, Mrs Aregbesola took on the campaign to stop female genital mutilation (FGM) otherwise known as female circumcision in the State. This campaign was carried out with the collaboration of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).
UNFPA is the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Our mission is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
The UN agency is concerned with the reproductive health care for women, and youth in more than 150 countries, which are home to more than 80 per cent of the world’s population. On its card is the health of pregnant women, especially the one million who face life-threatening complications each month. Reliable access to modern contraceptives sufficient to benefit 20 million women a year
Training of thousands of health workers to help ensure at least 90 per cent of all childbirths are supervised by skilled attendants, prevention of gender-based violence, which affects 1 in 3 women
Abandonment of female genital mutilation, which harms 3 million girls annually
That is not all. UNFPA is equally concerned with the prevention of teen pregnancies, complications of which are the leading cause of death for girls 15-19 years old, efforts to end child marriage, which could affect an estimated 70 million girls over the next 5 years, delivery of safe birth supplies, dignity kits and other life-saving materials to survivors of conflict and natural disaster, and censuses, data collection and analyses, which are essential for development planning
UNFPA is formally named the United Nations Population Fund. The organization was created in 1969, the same year the United Nations General Assembly declared “parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.”
It calls for the realization of reproductive rights for all and supports access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services – including voluntary family planning, maternal health care and comprehensive sexuality education. Since UNFPA started its work, the world has seen progress: The number and rate of women dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth has been halved. Families are healthier. Young people are more connected and empowered than ever before.
But too many are still left behind. More than 760 million people are mired in extreme poverty. Sexual and reproductive health problems are a leading cause of death and disability for women in the developing world. Young people bear the highest risks of HIV infection and unintended pregnancy. Many millions of girls face the prospect of child marriage and other harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM).
Much more needs to be done to ensure a world in which all individuals can exercise their basic human rights, including those that relate to the most intimate and fundamental aspects of life.
In 2018, UNFPA launched efforts to achieve three transformative results, ambitions that promise to change the world for every man, woman and young person:
On the platform of her Foundation, Mrs Aregbesola has continuously promoted academic excellence among the children of the poor through educational programs such as debates, spelling, quiz and scholarship.