By Damilola Shittu
Energy giant, Total, the Nigeria National Petroleum Cooperation (NNPC) and other ancillary companies have commissioned alternative energy, solar system at the Don Guanella Center, at Nnebukwu community in Oguta Council Area of Imo State.
The Center operated by the Catholic Church, houses mentally deranged children and those living with down syndrome, as well as homeless old people.
With the commission of the solar system, the Centre will now have 24 hours uninterrupted power supply, which will ease the plight of the inmates and reduce the of running the centre.
Speaking at the commissioning, the Catholic Priest in charge of the Center, Reverend Father Jude Anamelechi, commended Total and the NNPC for the gesture, which he described as a huge relief.
According to the cleric, “the installation of the multi-million naira solar Energy has provided a big relief to the center in the area of power supply. It has greatly improved the lives of our children here in the center especially the fact of aiding in the management of health crises at night. The project has reduced the cost of powering the center and eliminated pollution caused by the use of diesel”.
He however appealed to the companies to do more and extend the solar to power the borehole, stating that “with the type of children we have, water is very much important for their hygiene.”
The Priest disclosed that the Center had been in existence for 26 years, “Don Guanella Center belongs to the congregation founded by Saint Luigi Guanella, an Italian Priest. We rehabilitate mentally and physically challenged children.
“These are children who deserve to live and enjoy life like others but are facing serious health challenges like epilepsy, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism.
“We have special school, the physiotherapy, occupational therapy and others. In our Guanella tradition we strongly believe that disability is never inability, therefore we help our children to discover the hidden capacities in them.
“Ours is to reawaken in them and in the society the consciousness that every human being even those less gifted by nature have something to
offer to the society.
“With the recent admission, we have forty children (6 day care and 34 boarders) and some others are in their families because of the limited financial resources of the center to provide their ever increasing needs, which include feeding, clothing, medical, speech therapist, physiotherapist among others”.
Speaking at the occasion, shortly before the commissioning, the Managing Director, Total Upstream Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Nicholas
Terraz, represented by the Head of Corporate Affairs, Abiodu Afolabi, said, ” we are contributing to the realization of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs. Number three and seven, which talk about ensuring good health and well-being as well as provision of cleaner, affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy”.
He added that, “Two months ago, we embarked on the construction of this Solar solution project in fulfillment of the these goals andtoday, we are happy to hand over a project capable of generating 246MWH of electricity annually through the use of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
“Each of the five buildings in the Centre is provided with solar power and run independently. With the completion of this project, the
institution will depend less on diesel generators for its electrical needs, thus reducing environmental pollution as well as operational cost and this will leave more funds available to meet the other needs of the residents.”
In her speech, a representative of the Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, Mrs Ama Eluwa, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender and Social Development, said, “indeed children are the leaders of tomorrow. They are the strength of a nation. They are the pride of the people. It is on this continent that children suffer immensely from abuse and neglect. Care and concerned for all children is the hallmark of a civilized nation.
“In my capacity as the permanent secretary of Gender and Social Development, this one the institution that is under our supervision.
“Our joy knows no bound as we see light not just for one hour but for 24 hours to help in taking care of our children.”