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Foundation, Ajinomoto Foods empower widows through cooking competition in Lagos

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A non-governmental organization (NGO), The Healing Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the Ajinomoto Foods Nig Ltd., has empowered some widows through a cooking competition, to enhance their living standard.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, Mrs. Sophy Mbanisi, made this known at the cooking competition organized last weekend by the two bodies in commemoration of the 2024 International Widows Day (IWD)  in Lagos.

Mrs. Mbanisi said the Foundation moved the IWD celebration to last weekend to enable it accommodate its monthly meeting, usually held on the last week of every month.

She said that the programme, which had became an annual event since its first edition in 2023, would run from the zonal level to the state and national level by the foundation.

Speaking on the objectives behind the project, Mbanisi said the programme was to challenge widows to achieve more in life to fend for their families.

She added that the major objective of the programme was to empower widows with healthy cooking skills that would enable them sustain living despite the demise of their spouses.

According to her, many of the widows have a lot of hidden dreams that are lying dormant in them.

She said, “The cooking competition project, which started in 2023, is in partnership with Ajinomoto Foods Nigeria Ltd., who is the sole and major sponsor.

“It was conducted among the Foundation’s widows in its first edition last year, but this year, we are able to compete with another Foundation – the Ebere Otigba Foundation, Ajao Estate Lagos.

“The fact remains that many of these widows have a lot of hidden dreams and talents that are just lying unexplored in them.

“We want to see how we can revive some of their dreams and aspirations that were abandoned when their husbands died.

“So, we want to bring this healthy cooking competition among them because it will spur many of them that are good cooks and some of them that have the aspiration to run good restaurants or work as cooks in organizations.

“It will equally spur other widows that are out there to know that they can do more, even beyond cooking, to sustain themselves and their families after the demise of their husbands’’.

According to her, all the widows that participated in the programme went home with tangible gifts, adding that all the contestants in the cooking competition were given remarkable prizes to help them enhance their livelihood and businesses.

Also speaking, the Corporate Communications Manager, Ajinomoto Foods Nig Ltd., Mrs. Francisca Ikediashi, said the cooking competition was to add value and enhance the skills of the widows, describing the project as part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, through which it gave back to the society.

Mrs. Ikediash, who said the company collaborated with the Healing Heart Foundation to share values with widows and other vulnerable in the society, stated: “Competition is the spice of life; that your husband is dead is not the end of life. As a widow, don’t be limited, you got a lot of potential in you; keep pushing until something happens.

“From the competition today, there are great cooks. So, what is limiting you; stand up and start doing something for your future and those of your children.

“There is joy in winning. The first prize winner got a 120litre refrigerator, which can help her if she wants to do any cold business.

“The second prize winner got a set of big cooking pot; she can start a cooking business with that and others were all given beautiful gifts – coolers and the likes. Learn to be empowered; whatever thing you have, manage it well and start doing something”.

The President, Lagos State Caterers and Decorators Association, Mrs. Olajumoke Abraham-Agbelusi, described the cooking competition as a ‘beautiful one’, as the contestants properly used the Ajinomoto seasonings to enhance the taste of their meals.

Abraham-Agbelusi, also the competition’s Chief Judge, said there was no excessive usage of the seasoning in the meals that might cause any individual constipation, vomiting or stooling.

She said excessive usage of the Ajinomoto seasonings remained the reason some people may complain about the taste of   seasonings.

“The reason some people complain about the taste of Ajinomoto seasonings is because they don’t know the right quantity to use at a given time. But, when a cook put the right quantity for the right recipe, you will know that Ajinomoto seasoning is a good product.

“Women cook in diverse ways, but, in the cooking competition, the contestants are able to use the seasoning in a right proportion to give a unique taste to the meals,” she stated.

The winner of the cooking competition Mrs. Onyekachi Imo, appreciating the two bodies for organizing the programme to enhance her cooking skills, said the refrigerator prize she received would not only boost her living standard, but also enhance her business.

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