Patience Odeh Gerrits has a strong claim to the “crown queen” of Okpe kingdom in the Akoko Edo Local Government Area of Edo State. Intelligent, elegant and unassuming, she can also pride herself as the “princess” of the kingdom with no one raising an eyebrow.
However, part of the allure of Mrs. Gerrits is her humble beginning. There is no backdrop of opulence to her story, neither is there any benefactor behind her success.
Raised by average parents who were enlightened enough to know the importance of education and send her and other five siblings to school, she was given out in marriage to a white man without blinking of the eyes.
After saying “daddy and mummy I have found true love and peace in where Jan Gerrits is and in him I am well pleased,” they sealed their marriage contract for good and to the glory of God “if that is what our daughter wants”.
Today, if there is any one that could be termed lucky in marital life that has worked with precision Patience is the one. She has remained married to her heartthrob for almost 13 years after their white wedding.
But she is far from being a narcissist diva pre-occupied with self interest pursuit. Rather, she has taken time out of a tight schedule to fight for the common good especially the less privileged members of the society especially widows and children.
In fact she has been on the side of the masses and her husband Jan Gerrits behind her like the rock of Gibraltar. At the moment, Patience is dispensing her energy on her baby pet project “Stitching Kids and Women Foundation” an NGO that has been in existence since 2014, with the aim and objective of helping the less privileged ones in the society.
The focus is on children who do not have good start in life and may likely miss a the opportunity of growing to be responsible citizens in their later years and this may impact negatively on their communities and the society at large, thereby not realizing full potentials.
With a mindset that “ charity begins at home “, despite having two homes, Nigeria by birth and The Netherlands by marriage, she has donated some writing materials, books, pencils, and pens to her community back home in Edo state because she “wants to make positive impact in the lives of other people in Nigeria and Holland.
More so, she has a large vision of seeing those children giving back to the society what we gave to them”.
Born into the distinguished and enlightened family of Mr & Mrs Odeh at Okpe, Patience had her education at Ajama Modern Primary School, Okpe Mixed Grammar School before gaining admission into Kaduna Polytechnic Kaduna, where she became one of the best graduating students.
In 2014, Mrs. Gerrits while serving as spokesperson of Afemai forum, the forum emerged the best social cultural association in The Netherlands and Europe. By the award, she has become an ambassador of the Afemai people in the diaspora and she can rob minds with other celebrities on global issues all over the world.
Afemai forum in Holland or The Netherlands is an umbrella body of all sons and daughters of Afemai Land who reside there. Its aims include uniting all the people from Edo North senatorial district under one umbrella, educate themselves as migrants and help one another.
Also, the forum has been providing social amenities to communities in Afemai land. It strives to empower members in The Netherlands to be fully integrate themselves into the Dutch society so that they can benefit fully as citizens.
•AYODELE OSHIKOKHAI writes from Lagos