Lawyer and founder of CITADEL foundation, Portia Emilia Anthony, a woman with passion for the visually impaired recently hosted the blind community to a Christmas jamboree at Mayfair Hall, Alausa, Lagos.
In an interview with glamtush, Portia talks about why she opted for the visually impaired as her project as well as her plans for them.
Many women would rather opt to helping young girls and women who are sexually abused or experiencing domestic violence. Why the interest in the visually impaired?
That is because I believe that when you cannot see, it’s a terrible thing. If you can see, you can do a lot of things but when you cannot see, it’s like half of your life is gone.
So, I actually saw people that have a need. My husband went somewhere and he met a woman that carried a baby and she was blind. He came home feeling very sad and I said he should take me to them. I went to see this particular lady only to find out there were legions of them and they had nowhere to live so I got a place. I’m paying rent for almost all of them. Last year, I had more than 2,000 of them but this year because of the economic situation, I had to downsize. It’s hard but if this is the last thing I will do on earth, then, my mission here would have been accomplished. But these people are so wonderful, their life is so fulfilled. We have got lawyers, accountants, nurses, educators among these people.
How long have you been involved in this project?
I have been doing it for two years. I’ve bought four plots of land already at Ikorodu, I just need to build it. So I need people to come together and help, I can’t do it alone. I need support to build the shelter for them where they can practice their craft and sustain themselves.
The reason I bought a land in Ikorodu is because it’s cheaper there. Some of them were living in the outskirts of Lagos so I brought them there.
How many of them do you carter for right now?
I can’t tell you but last year, I had 2000 of them. They keep coming every day, every year and I don’t know where they come from but I will do what I have to do. There is a baby that was born six months ago and I have just been told she’s blind. The parents are blind. I don’t know if it’s hereditary, I’m not a medical doctor. But I get them drugs as well.
What is the #SupportTheBlind Project Build A Home For The Blind” about?
It’s about building a home or what you can call a centre for the visually impaired. Some of them don’t have anywhere to live, I pay their rents. Over the years, I have paid more than N10M on rent and I’m the one singlehandedly sponsoring this project, so, hopefully after this project unveiling someone will look into this. These are Nigerians, they actually voted for this government. Do you know that some politicians actually took these people to go and vote? They actually thumb printed and after that, they forgot about them where they were. They called me to come and pick them up. It’s really sad, so I want the government to do something for them.
So what’s your appeal to the government, corporate organizations and well-meaning individuals concerning this project?
I want them to come and help. I’m not asking them for money to feed them, I can feed them but let them build a home for them where they can stay and practice their craft. These are talented people; these are people that can do a lot. I need something sustainable that can go from one generation to another.
The truth is that my friends on social media have been helping me with whatever they can but that is not enough. We need people to really come and help me, this is hard. The real thing they need is accommodation that is why I need to build a centre where they can live and also practice their craft as well, something sustainable where they can actually be able to look after themselves so that they will not need to call me at the end of every year to tell me rent is due. I don’t do small but this is almost bigger than me. I can’t do it alone, I need your help.
Do you ever regret your decision to help the visually impaired?
No, never. When you have passion for something, you don’t ever have regrets.