Guests were literally overwhelmed with emotions as they watched Mrs. Philomena Chime, one of the beneficiaries that featured in the first episode of the Airtel Touching Lives series, a new television programme focused on empowering the underprivileged, narrate her woes. Mrs. Chime narrated how she is currently nursing four of her adult children who are seriously limited by major physical disabilities ranging from loss of hearing, near dumbness to a strange condition that leaves one of her daughters totally helpless and completely dependent.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of the guests who are mostly government delegates, captains of industries, accomplished entrepreneurs, leading NGOs and select media professionals as they watched the 30-minute episode at the premiere of the Airtel Touching Lives, which held on Thursday (December 18th, 2014) held at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Mrs. Chime and two of her sons were at the event; and they sobbed and cried as they watched their close family members on the large screen planted at the middle of the expansive Oriental Ballroom. Mrs. Chime’s wrapper was drenched with painful tears and her eyes were puffy, swollen and tired just as she appeared lost in bitter sorrow. On-Air Personality and anchor of the Touching Lives programme, Wana Udobang, hugged Mrs. Chime tightly as they both fought varying emotions. Earlier at the premiere, Udobang had spoken extemporaneously, describing Mrs. Chime as a rare breed, a special woman, a very strong person and a real fighter. “I just want to thank you for everything; despite your many problems and adversities, you are still standing and you are still coping. I just want to thank-you…,” she said amidst tears and in a shaky, unsteady voice.
Indeed, many in the audience were literally touched by the suffering Mrs. Chime had seen in her 34-year marriage. And when asked what she wanted by show host, Udobang, Mrs. Chime blurted: “anything… anything my sister…. The suffering is too much for me…. Anything. A beggar has no choice….” At that point, Udobang explained the essence of the Airtel Touching Lives initiative, saying it is designed to provide relief and help to the downtrodden, disadvantaged and underprivileged. “I am pleased to inform you Mrs. Chime that Airtel will provide hearing aids for your children, on-going medication for the children, robust health insurance package for your family and a means of livelihood for the family – a poultry farm with birds and feeds for the chicks for an on-going period,” Udobang announced. Mrs. Chime’s face lit up and she was practically overwhelmed with tears of joy freely flowing down her cheeks. She just cried and could hardly say anything in response to the relief supply by Airtel.
Airtel Touching Lives is focused on identifying underprivileged persons/people with special needs and offer them solid platforms and opportunities that will emancipate these individuals from the shackles of poverty, despair and hopelessness. Of course, the journey of identifying these individuals and empowering them is filmed and broadcast on terrestrial and satellite television stations in the fashion of an exciting reality television programme.
Touching lives initiative marks a significant milestone in Airtel’s history of CSR interventions in the country – it is a major philanthropic gesture by the telco to connect emotionally with Nigerians to alleviate the suffering of helpless people across the country. This, without a doubt, underscores Airtel’s determination to enrich lives and contribute to humanity.
Speaking on the programme the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Segun Ogunsanya, said: “Airtel Touching Lives underscores our determination to enrich lives and contribute to humanity. And the premiere tonight marks the beginning of a new journey in providing empowerment and a major lifeline for thousands of Nigerians.
“At Airtel, we are passionate about the people we serve and the Nigerian society. Airtel Touching Lives provides a platform for the underprivileged in our society to be identified, listened to and also cared for. For us, it is a commitment to connect with millions of Nigerians, alleviate their suffering and bring smile to their faces. Ladies and Gentlemen, Airtel has recorded huge successes with its many CSR
Written By: Erhumu Bayagbon