Three years ago, Terkula Pilakya, a 16-year-old boy from Ukpiam, Guma LGA in Benue State, could not go to school, play, or do the things other children his age do. He was suffering from a hernia that had reached an advanced stage, and he needed surgery to remove it.
Every day he groaned in pain, and that was his lot for about ten months.”We could not afford the bill for his surgery”, his mother, Sarah Pilakya, said. “The little money we made from our farm was not enough to take him for treatment. We searched for help everywhere but got none. All we could do was watch and pray for some miracle to happen.”
Mrs. Pilakya’s miracle happened. News got around that the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF), the NGO of the former first lady of Benue State Governor Dr.Mrs. Eunice Ortom, was offering a free medical outreach in her Daudu community.
She took advantage of the opportunity and got her child the much-needed surgery. So young Terkula got his life back.
Not just the young Terkula, but many others, both young and old, males and females, have gotten their lives back because of the high-impact medical outreach interventions implemented in Benue State by the ESLF over the years.
With the remotest parts of the state as the hard target, the ESLF transversed all the senatorial districts of the state, covering several LGAs and wards with free medical services ranging from surgeries to general medical consultations. The foundation also offered referral services for cases that needed further examination and treatment.
To give a lease of life to Terkula and the many others who have benefited from the interventions of the ESLF was the push Mrs. Ortom had for establishing the ESLF. Thus, ESLF’s mission statement is “to create a society without barriers to decent living.”
“It is my wish that the Eunice Spring of Life will be known as one reserved for those who may truly need us to be a spring in their steps,” Mrs. Ortom emphasises,adding that “our goal is to ensure comfort for everybody through our little efforts’’.
Mrs. Ortom has sunk deeply into the minds of many as a passionate humanitarian who will go to any length to provide succour to the less privileged and marginalised groups.
Dr. Mrs. Ortom employs military precision in pushing for marginalised persons to get their due,” one of her staff and Programme Manager of ESLF, Tine Agernor, says.”She gives oxygen to humanitarian initiatives at ESLF. Last week,to mark World Humanitarian Week across the globe,the first lady personally visited the Gbajimba IDP camp, where she flagged off a medical outreach, donating medical supplies too.
“Long before her husband became governor, Mrs. Ortom had always searched for and catered for the poor. She is very passionate about humanitarian work.
Dr. Mrs. Magdalene Dura, the Special Adviser to the Benue State Governor on SDG, NEPAD, and Development, maintains Mrs. Ortom had a stint in humanitarian work in the state civil service.
Her career in community development revolves around rural and urban livelihoods, HIV/AIDS, and vulnerable children (VCs). Over these years, Mrs. Ortom served in different capacities across ministries, departments, and agencies of the government, as well as in the non-governmental sector.
She is also passionate about strengthening health systems and has been at the forefront of promoting the adoption of appropriate health behaviours for different health programmes, including malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.
She has spearheaded treatment for vesicovaginal fistula (VVF and cancer treatment for over twenty women. Among others, she is the USAID Net Ambassador, USAID ZINC/ORS Champion, UNICEF Champion, and Advocate against Adolescent HIV and TB Champion.
Mrs. Ortom draws strength from her religion as a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) as a child evangelist with demonstrable passion for children and young people.
She spares no opportunity to speak of the power of God and encourage people to adopt a prayerful life.
The wife of the governor of Benue State hails from Gwer West LGA. She was born on August 27th, 1972, and is married to Governor Samuel Ortom, who hails from Guma Local Government Area.
She attended Queen of the Rosary Secondary School in Gboko, where she obtained the General Certificate of Education in 1988. She proceeded to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in International Studies.
Eunice Ortom is armed with a Master of Science degree in international relations and strategic studies and a Ph.D. in political science, both from Benue State University. Mrs. Ortom believes that the world can only go round if people in privileged positions strive to pull up the less privileged ones.
Read what she has to say. “I strive through my little efforts to be the sun that illuminates light in dark hours and provides warmth in cold weather, or water that wets dry land, to people who need it.
Compiled by Hon. Michael Shawon.