…Needs wheelchair to come outside and see the sky
From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
With uncommon will power and determination to live and see her children survive despite the vicissitudes visited on her by fate, 50-year-old Mrs Edith Onwuegbusi feels nothing else but gratitude to the Almighty God and the people who have touched her life with charity.
Until April 2007, Onwuegbusi, a native of Nando in Anambra East Local Government Area, Anambra State, was a trader who resided with her husband and children in Minna, Niger State.
That was before calamity turned her world upside down, after she visited her community for the funeral of a relative. On her way back to Minna, after the burial, she was involved in a fatal accident along Okene- Abuja road, which claimed the lives of many passengers including her elder brother, Emeka.
She survived by the whiskers. Her spinal cord was broken in the accident, an outcome that left her bedridden till today. To make matters worse, her husband suffered a stroke and ultimately died, leaving her a bedridden widow with five young children.
Notwithstanding her present pathetic situation, Onwuegbusi is still in high spirit, very grateful to God for keeping her alive. She told Sunday Sun reporter who visited her in Nando that she has every reason to appreciate God who saved her life in the accident.
Recounting the experience, she said: “I was a business woman living in Minna, Niger State with my husband and five children. I travelled home to Nando in April 2007 for the burial of a relative and on my way back to Minna, the vehicle that I was travelling in was involved in an accident along Okene-Abuja road. That accident claimed many lives including my elder brother, Emeka. I was taken to a hospital in Okene and after three days I was moved to Borromeo Hospital in Onitsha where I spent about one year. I was again taken to another private hospital in Nkpor, and I spent about seven months there. When there seemed to be no positive change in my condition in that hospital, I was brought to this house where I have been since that time.
“I have lain in this room for over seven and half years. A doctor comes here occasionally to attend to me.”
On how she has been coping with her disability, the deprivations and challenges brought on her pitiable situation, Onwuegbusi said with aplomb that she has learnt to live with it. “I do have pains and sometimes my first daughter will assist me to turn to my other side so that my back can be aired. I lost my husband three years ago. It was very painful because we were living peacefully. He had stroke even before I was involved in the accident. He loved me and we were happy together until these challenges came and we cannot question God. I am still grateful to the Almighty God for keeping me alive,” she said.
God has been her comfort, her joy and strength, she told Sunday Sun reporter, adding that some very benevolent people have been helping her in various ways, to pay the school fees of her children who are still very young.
“My elder sister comes here to assist me but she does not have much. She tries within her power. An indigene of this town, Mr Anthony Chukwuemeka, has been of tremendous support to me and my family. He has been providing us with feeding allowance. He pays the school fees of my youngest daughter, Amarachukwu (who was in the same vehicle with her when the accident occurred). She was only seven months when we were involved in the accident. The Reverend Father in charge of St. Mathew Catholic Church Minna, Rev. Fr. Christian Achilefu has been very helpful. He pays the school fees for my son and has been supporting my family too. The Catholic priest in St. Francis Catholic Church, Ikem Nando, Rev. Fr. Anslem Amandianaeze comes here to give me Holy Communion. He has also been very supportive of the family. The catechist of the parish, Mr. Bartholomew Akwuobi has been like a brother to me. He comes here to encourage me and my family. My desire is to be able to move around on a wheelchair. I pray every day that God will send me a wheelchair through somebody. I want to be able to get off this bed and go outside to look at the sky. I want to see the trees and breathe air outside. I am earnestly hoping that Governor Willie Obiano’s wife, the Ministry of Women Affairs and other Nigerians will come to my rescue,” she pleaded as teardrops rolled down her face.
Rev. Fr. Amandianaeze, who became the parish priest one year ago has been a source of spiritual comfort to her. He regularly visits the family to encourage the bedridden woman with the word of God and also gives her Holy Communion during such pastoral visits.
“I also go there when her two daughters may not be around to keep her company and encourage her. She is a good Catholic, so the priests before me were also visiting her,” he said.
The primary reason that Anambra people bear strong allegiance to their town unions is the belief that the community union would come to their aid in situations of the sort that has befallen Onwuegbusi. To what extent has the community as a whole helped Onwuegbusi, Sunday Sun sought to know from the Catholic cleric, and he said: “I don’t know about the community but the church has been supporting as much as it can. You know that support may not necessarily be in the form of finance, there are other forms of support. The little the church can do financially, they have been doing. We do not have much in this parish.”
Asked why the community had not been able to rally round their daughter and give her hope to the extent of providing medical treatment overseas, which an unconfirmed source said would cost about N4million, the priest responded: “It is something that would have been easy; unfortunately, the community has some political problems. Members have camps and so it is difficult to call everyone under one umbrella to talk. This issue is really affecting progress in the community. What I may suggest is to appeal to some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for support.”