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A startup ceremony was held today, April 29, 2021, to mark the climax of the SMAT-P Project in Benin City.

In attendance at the event were Rev. Fr. Mike Oyanoafoh, the Chancellor of Benin Archdiocese who represented the Archbishop of Benin and the President of the Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Most Rev. Augustine Akubeze; Acting Director of JDPC Rev. Fr. Benedict Onwugbenu; the Permanent Secretary to the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mrs Helen Obobairibhojie; and the Deputy Governor of Edo State himself, Comrade Philip Shaibu.

As a mark of support to the beneficiaries and in recognition of the efforts of the Catholic Church, the Deputy Governor in his magnanimity donated the sum of N50,000 each to the beneficiaries to aid them in their startup especially in acquiring additional startup items for the 30 persons trained in Benin Archdiocese. The beneficiaries were extremely grateful for the gesture of goodwill towards them and promised to be accountable for the items and to make good economic use of them.

The Sustainable Measures Against Trafficking in Persons (SMAT-P) project is a collaboration between Caritas Nigeria and the Italian Bishops’ Conference with the JDPCs of Benin, Uromi, Auchi, Issele-Uku and Ogoja dioceses and is implemented in 10 Local Government Areas in Edo, Delta and Cross River State. The project is aimed at improving the livelihoods of vulnerable households by empowering women with business startup grants, provision of educational support to out-of-school children and indigent tertiary students, as well as sensitization on the ills of human trafficking through awareness creation in schools, communities, places of worship and markets and formation of anti-human trafficking clubs in schools. Vocational training in different skills for youths was also carried out and following the extension of the project, startup tools were provided for those who concluded training.

A total of 150 persons were trained across the 5 JDPC. Over the past week, startup packs were disbursed to all 150 persons across the five JDPCs where the project is implemented and cash logistics of N10,000 given to each of the beneficiaries who were trained in 17 different vocational skills of their choice.

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