Some of the breastfeeding mothers in a group photograph with Mrs Ann Godwin, Guardian correspondent who provided succor to them to ease challenge of lockdown in Port Harcourt
The positive impact of the media in the society cannot be overemphasize even as journalists continues to dig out the abnormalities, ills and corrupt practices in the society, writes BLESSING IBUNGE in Port Harcourt.
The lockdown in some parts of Port Harcourt as instructed by the Rivers State Government, in a bid to check spread of coronavirus, has created serious hardship for many residents of the area. And from all indication, neither the state governor nor his advisers should be blamed on a matter the governor once described as a “matter of life and death”.
Recently, a female correspondent with The Guardian newspapers, Ann Godwin, did a special report on the lockdown, concentrating on the effect on breastfeeding mothers and vulnerable people. The report did not only end at first glance, but has attracted succor for the above categories of persons resident in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt LGAs of the state.
The impositions of various forms of restrictions by the State government, especially the closure of markets, business places have worsened the conditions of the vulnerable group as most in this category only eat when their husbands or they themselves go to eke out their ‘daily bread’; hence the lockdown seriously out paid to their sources of income and means of survival.
Some of the breastfeeding mothers were reported to have stayed for days without food, some others took garri flakes, while still some others drank only water, which led to series of fainting and discomfort.
It was indeed a momentous occasion at St. Andrew’s Primary School Diobu PortHarcourt, on Tuesday when food items including rice, garri, indomie, plantain, groundnut oil, beverages, soap were given to the women to assuage their sufferings. The AUTHORITY noticed that some non-governmental organizations including, Society for Women and Youths Affairs, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, individuals, sent in some of the food items after reading the report from The Guardian correspondent.
The women who came along with their babies, could not hide their feelings as some of them were shedding tears of joy when they were receiving the palliatives from the female journalist. Some of them speaking with our correspondent lamented that since the lockdown in their area they hardly could afford a meal a day.
One of the beneficiaries and a breastfeeding mother, Favour Madu narrated “Since the lockdown, life has been difficult for my family. My husband is doing business at Ikoku and myself in Rumuwoji market but this places are shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Life has not been easy for us. It was doing Mrs Ann Godwin’s interview with us she promised to relieve us of this pain. Today, she called us out to come and free food items and that is why we are here.
“Is not easy. Sometimes my children will be crying of hunger, even my 4months baby, sometimes there would be no milk for him to drink. I will cry but I know that God is alive and that He will see us through. There are times I breastfeed my baby without eating which is also affecting my health.
“But for this today, may God bless all those who contributed to save a breastfeeding mother at the period and also bless the female journalist for us.”
Another breastfeeding mother who spoke with The AUTHORITY and gave her name as Gift Friday, said “I am a breastfeeding mother of a year and two months son. My husband is a barber but because of the lockdown he could not do anything to assist us and we are hungry.
“To have food for me and my son this period is very difficult. Like yesterday, I only cooked a cup of rice for all of us to eat. It was not enough but I need to feed my son”.
Mrs Gift Friday who admitted benefiting from the state government palliatives in her area in Rumuokoro, Obio/Akpor, said the items were not enough for them as it did not last for three days. She thanked the female journalist for intervening and provision of the food items, saying that it will last for some period of time for her family.
on her part, Chioma Bright, stressed “As a nursing mother, the lockdown is affecting mostly me. This is because when I eat food, I will breastfeed my baby but when I did not eat I cannot breastfeed, even when I try to, there will no breast milk. I also have other two children to take care of.
“This shutdown, I and my husband we are just in the house. Since the beginning of the lockdown we have not gone to the market where we earn our daily income for meal. The money we have, we have eaten all and no way to replace because our shops are still shutdown”.
Meanwhile, speaking with newsmen after giving out the palliatives, Mrs Godwin said, ” I feel elated today seeing that succor has come to these women because while I was transcribing and putting the reports together, I broke down emotionally and mentally listening to the voices of these women, the intellectual flow stopped, I couldn’t just flow due to the dept of pains,sufferings these women were going through.
“I couldn’t hold back my tears, I had to pause ,wiped the tears even the ones that dropped on my laptop, I realized that the responses to the fight against COVID-19 pandemic increased the challenges of the vulnerable group especially ,the breastfeeding mothers, as a mother, I am aware that breast milk provides vital nutrients that supports the baby’s physical and cognitive development.
“And when a mother breastfeeds without eating, it affects the mother’s health as well as the baby, so while writing their stories, I vowed that I will surely return to touch their lives and put smiles on their faces, so I am glad today , that, that prayer has been answered.
“I , however use this opportunity to call on the governments, Federal State and Local government to identify more of the breastfeeding mothers and reach out to them, they are all over the streets, they need help, they need assistance and encouragement even as we pray for a quick end to this dreaded pandemic to enable citizens return to normal life. I also expressed thanks to the Wole Soyinka Centre For Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) COVID-19 check projecr for facilitating the report”.