By Emmanuel Ndon
Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Compassion goes beyond pity, but embodies a sympathetic consciousness that propels solution-driven actions.
This is the story of Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem, member representing Itu State Constituency in Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, who came face to face with a -73 year old widow whose house collapsed on April 1, 2020 and left the woman without shelter over her head.
For days, Madam Akon Edet Okon of Nnung Odong Atai in Ikot Obio Atai Itam, Itu local government area, had spent cold, lonely nights under the debris of her collapsed building. By any stretch of the imagination, she may have wished to die in the wake of the building collapse.
However, on December 25, 2020 , as christians were celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem formally handed over a well constructed and tastefully furnished bungalow,; complete with executive class chairs, bed,, beddings, electrical fittings with classic lightings and gas cookers to the woman.
From interactions, it is apparent that the House member may not have known Mrs. Akon Edet Okon before the incident. He only woke up one morning to see the video of a collapsed building in his WhatsApp inbox. Available information has it that the widow’s neighbour recorded the incidence and distributed it in the social media.
Moved by compassion, the House member swiftly sent an emissary to assess the extent of damage on the building and report back. Thereafter, he immediately commenced building a brand new house for the widow and had completed within a very short time.
Today, Madam Akon Okon Edet is not only a proud owner of a well constructed bungalow, but has been spared the frequent heartbreaks which accompanied thunder and windstorms during rainy seasons.
The handing over ceremony which was held on a Christmas day was very significant. First, as an act of kindness as taught by our saviour Jesus Christ, Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem has demonstrated that “there is no exercise better for the heart than touching down and lifting people up”. Secondly, as a politician, his kind gesture is a proven and exemplary exercise that leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others rather than an opportunity to satisfy personal greed.
Fundamentally, this story is about kindness. And because it involves someone at a strata of political power, it becomes pertinent to emphasize that kindness should also be ingrained in the course of our political pursuit.
Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem’s example only shows that so many other people out there are yearning for an act of kindness and compassion in our politics and public lives.
According to Italian academic, Raffaella Baccolini, kindness is the quality of being benign, compassionate, loving, (and) full of tenderness and deliberately doing good to others, particularly when we see them in pain.
Indeed, the year 2020 will go down in history as one that brought untold hardship to many households particularly with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. But Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem will always be remembered for leaving a legacy of virtue, kindness and compassion. His footprints on the lives of the less privileged will remain indelible as he continues his political journey of giving hope to the hopeless and home for the homeless.