Folashade Johnson is an entrepreneur, educator, counselor and a mother. She’s also a philanthropist, who is the brain behind HOPE SOARS FOUNDATION FOR WIDOWS.
An OSUN CITIZEN from Ikire, her passion for humanitarian services, especially putting smiles on the faces of widows was fuelled by her own experience; she lost her loving husband and became a widow in her twenties.
In this chat with OSUN CITIZEN’S Executive Editor; Dotun Olanibi, the humble lady took us through how it all started, her challenges, her achievements, projections and many more.
Enjoy the interview.
Kindly tell us how your foundation started?
The foundation started based on my unpalatable widowhood experience. I’ve been longing to be of help to vulnerable widows since 2006 that I went through the plight of widows.
I started reaching out to few widows around with the little I have since 2006, the foundation was officially launched in 2016 with the help of God, the anonymous couple donations and of course the fantastic team; HOPE SOARS.
Growing up, have you always thought of reaching out to people just like you’re doing now?
Not really, I never thought about widows, neither thought of reaching out to them. My experience gave me insight of what widows go through and then I decided to inspire others with my story/experience and of course to pass the faithfulness of God enjoyed, to others.
Being someone who has a first hand experience of being a widow, how does it feel?
Hmmmmmm… It is not a good experience at all. The pain of separation alone is enough to drain a woman completely, let alone the responsibilities and challenges that come along with it.
In this part of the world, they treat widows as if it is a CRIME to be one o.
Widows are treated like OUTCAST, it’s really sad that the ones that really need love are being treated otherwise.
Over the years, your foundation has been reaching out to alot of people, how have you been able to fund this?
Hmmmmmm… Thank God for the great team; HOPE SOARS, good friends, families, supporters and anonymous donors, have been the reason why we’ve been able to put smiles on the faces of widows and their households.
Is there a way the government can help, especially the government of your home state; Osun?
YES, we need government of my home State to partner with us to empower widows in Osun with our skill acquisition program/trainings to establish the widows.
We’ve had series of events at Irewole Local Government area of the state though. But that’s not enough, we wish to reach out to more and of course, to other Local Government areas in Osun State.
What are the challenges you face in this your humanitarian services and how have you been coping?
Fund and lack of volunteers sometimes.
The passion keeps me going and of course the good team, our donors plus the Grace of God. Help from our supporters and sponsors too, which of course, you are one of them.
Do you have a record of the number of widows you’ve reached out to, if so how many?
Thousands of widows have benefitted from the foundation.
For a minute, let’s talk about widowers, much emphasis is being laid on widows, what is the hope of widowers?
Yes, much emphasis is being laid on widows because African culture place more value on male/man, our culture favour men more than women.
I heard and don’t know how true it is that when a man looses his wife, the family will organise a woman for him, so that he will not have any attachment with the dead wife. Looking at the emotional aspect again, it’s easier for men to move on than women.
Lots of factors plays in here, which is responsible for why more emphasis are laid on widows than widowers.
Widowers have more hope in this part of the world than widows.
What are your projections in the coming years?
Hmmmmm, we’ve not started at all, based on what we plan for humiliated widows.
To have an hostel for humiliated widows that are treated like me (rendered homeless, thank God for my Church member that took us in to get my balance to move on), they get trained on their area of interest, have a full scholarship for school for their children to have quality education, taking them through the therapy needed; physical, emotional or psychological, set them up on a kind of business of their choice and make sure they’re stable, for them to contribute to their own environment as well.
It’s a very biiiiig project. May God help us to achieve the aim and purpose. Amen.
Looking back, what do you always thank God for?
I thank God for everything. The gift of life, the process we went through, the good people he planted our ways at every point, his faithfulness, mercy, favour and love.
The good, the bad, the ugly.
My brother, if I have to continue we wouldn’t leave here. The list is unending.
Any plan to remarry and if so, describe your ideal man?
YES. God’s plan and direction for my life is all I need.
What words of encouragement do you have for young and old widows all over the world and in Nigeria in particular?
Hmmmmm, truly, it’s not what any woman planned or prayed for but what do we do when we can’t change the situation we found ourselves?
Accept what we can not change because, if we could change it or in charge it wouldn’t happen in the first place. Stop asking questions or whys that we can never get answers to. Being strong is the only option left so, they need to be strong.
Put all HOPE and TRUST in God alone and nothing more. God loves widows and fatherless children so dearly, He is working things out, he answers widows prayers very fast.
Stay strong, stay positive, stay healthy and keep your head high.