“Love people. When you see somebody, love that person.” This has been Clare Effiong’s creed since she was a little girl.
Her life has remained an epistle of love to many, especially the thousands of orphaned children and widowed women that she has rescued from deprivation and searing poverty.
Clare Effiong is the founder of Esther’s Aid for Needy and Abandoned Children; a not for profit organization that began its grass-roots operations in New York in 1999, to help the needy and homeless children in the community.
Driven by love, Clare visited Rwanda in 2000; six years after the genocide that tore the country apart in brutal violence.
She was stunned by the incredible deprivation and untold sufferings endured by the children; most of whom lived on the streets and various dump sites. And in the hopes of assuaging some of the agonies the children faced, Clare decided to extend her organization’s efforts from New York to Rwanda.
”Children — they were everywhere,” she said. ”On the street. In the sewer. In the garbage. No parent. No relatives.”
Esther’s Aid resumed operation in Rwanda that year, with the aim of providing basic education and skills development training program for the numerous abandoned street kids who were languishing in poverty, delinquencies and ill health.
To ensure a total commitment to what she now considers to be a higher calling, Mama Clare (as she is fondly called) resigned her position as a diplomat with the Nigerian Embassy in New York. A position she has held for several years.
Since the past six or more years, Esther’s Aid for Needy and Abandoned Children, has maintained a routine of shipping at least one container of items, including; food, soccer balls, clothing, furniture and other items to Rwanda.
The organization also operates a primary school in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, and has admitted more than 300 orphans. It also provides food and clothing to the children and organizes recreational and peace-building programs, as well as skills development and job training to HIV and AIDS widows and infected women.
Its Sewing Empowerment Center offers an exhaustive, 13-month training program for girls and young women and also empowers them with requisite materials to make them successful.
Mama Clare was born in Nigeria in 1959 and has lived in New Rochelle for more than 20 years.
Love, real love has remained the force that constantly drives this great woman to action.
“The work that we started on a grass-roots level will take care of people truly in need,” Effiong said. “We’re able to help them go from hopelessness to hope. We bring them from the dust to the palace.”
“It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live.”
Ethel Percy Andrus