Iruka Ndubuizu - The Accidental Philantropist!!!

Sep 20, 2018

I came across an article on LinkedIn a couple of days ago, written by an amazing lady. It was something I had never seen in recent times and what caught my attention was the genuine desire of the writer to touch lives in a world where values were no longer given pride of place. She is a lawyer, motivational speaker, negotiations expert, trainer and consultant. Her 50th birthday comes up on the 11th day of January 2019 and her desired gift to society to celebrate that milestone is to donate a 40-foot container of medical supplies and equipment to any hospital in Nigeria. She has chosen the teaching hospital in her state, Imo State University Teaching Hospital in Orlu. This very passionate woman is the Executive Director, Eureka Consulting LLC in the United States and Nigeria. Among other positions, she was the Assistant Director for Contracts Administration in the prestigious Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. A symbol of result oriented professionalism, she was nominated 2014 Woman in Healthcare Leadership Award, and is a recipient of the Emory Award of Distinction. Please read on as I unveil to you, a most ideal example of beauty and brains, the fiery, passionate and amiable Barrister Iruka Ndubuizu…

Your article in LinkedIn titled 'I am Privileged' was really touching. You said a lot of things about the project you are about to embark on. Kindly share on this platform, what really inspired you to choose this journey of adding value to people's lives.

Well, as you get older, you begin to look at things a little differently. All my life, I tend to focus on what I don't have. I have always tried to have more of whatever it is that I have. We always take things for granted. I mean, you were born. You aree well. You had parents. They paid your school fees. You went to school. You had good health. You know, you will take it for granted. So, as I was counting down to my 50th birthday, my dream was initially to have a big party to celebrate it. One day, however, it hit me and I asked myself, 'why am I having this party? What value will it add to me? What value will it add to others? It didn't feel like what I should do. I just felt this need to do something impactful. I wanted to make an impact as opposed to throwing a party. So, for my 50th birthday, instead of throwing a big party, I will do something that will touch lives. I have always done my part to serve my community, but on a smaller scale. This will be the biggest thing that I have ever done.

So, you intend to supply medical equipment to hospitals in your state?

The whole idea is, what can I do in Nigeria? Given the opportunity, how can I make a big impact in Nigeria? Well, I came up with several options and finally narrowed it down to food and medicine. However, I realized that not having basic medical supplies is a big problem in our country. I believe that if you are not in good health, you cannot source for food or even eat. If I brought in food and people are too sick to eat it, what have I done? So I always felt that health was a very primary need because I have lost people in my life due to inadequate health treatment. I have lost people who couldn't get to a good clinic on time because the one by them didn't have the amenities, so they have to drive a little further. Lives have been lost making that trip. So my goal was to find a place that serves people, the vulnerable in society. Where can I go that people need deep access to medical aid? So, I chose Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) because of the size, location and it also trains future doctors. The patient population will be those that I am trying to touch their lives, the vulnerable, those who don't have. Those who have to decide between buying food and buying medicine. If I can help with the health supplies and reduce the bills and they know it is there, hopefully they will be able to access help here quickly. People die in Nigeria a lot over preventable healthcare. Most of our people die from things that can be prevented but when you have limited resources and you have to choose between paying school fees, eating, paying house rent and clinic, sometimes you will let your health go down while you take care of other things and when you are ready to take care of the health, it's now worse.

So, it's basically about touching lives?

Yeah, it's about impacting the lives of people in that community who have limited or even no access to affordable healthcare.

If you are going to donate a 40-foot Container of medical supplies and equipment to that teaching hospital, that would cost a lot of money. How do you intend to raise funds for such a massive project?

Very good question. So what I did was to start what a GoFundMe Campaign online asking ask everybody I know and people they know to please donate funds towards this project. I call it the 50k by 50 Project. That means am trying to raise $50,000 by the time I’m 50 to fund this. It's a lot of money. People shout when they see it but I believe that human beings can be quite understanding if they see a reason to be. I believe that if people understand what I'm doing, they will donate. So I'm trusting that people are looking for a chance to help and a way to support and I'm hoping that people will be generous. I'm trusting that people all over the world actually will donate and help me raise the 50,000 Dollars by the time I'm 50. So, on the article I wrote, there is a link to the place where people can actually donate.

Your expectations are really high and I must commend your zeal and belief in this project.

Oh thanks. Yeah. I don't have 50,000 dollars. If I had the money, I will do it without drawing attention. So, I don't want my lack of not having the money to stop this idea because I think it is a great thing. So what I just need is to find people who can support me so we can do this great thing together. I can't do it alone. It's a big endeavor.

Ok, do you in any way want the government involved in this?

Government is welcome to be involved. In fact, this is something they should be involved in. I would love for them to be involved but I don't know how to go about that. Hopefully, they will hear this story and reach out, then we can do it together. But I don't know anybody in government. So, I'm well on my own. I am one woman trying to do this huge thing.

So were you able to visit some hospitals before now to see what they have on ground and all that?

Oh yes. Once I decided it was going to be IMSUTH, I came down to Nigeria just to go and see the place because I didn't want to start raising funds without knowing what am doing it for. I came down and spent a day in IMSUTH with the Medical Director and some other people there who offered their time on that day, showing me several departments and also highlighted their needs. So, I know that they have great need there because I spent a lot of time there. Actually, it's a good thing because, beyond knowing about their need, it has become personal to me because I saw kids who couldn't have their treatments completed, how much more be properly fed. I saw parents who were watching their children die because they could not afford to pay for their healthcare. So, seeing all that has definitely made this more important that I succeed in doing this.

Can you from your heart speak to Nigerians in healthcare and the health sector, before we round off this interview?

Ok I just want to say well done to the people in the health sector because I know they are doing a lot with very little. So those who have been called to serve in that space, I pray that they have the wisdom and the tools to continue to save the lives of their patients. I know that they do so much with so little and I commend them for it.

Ok, thank you very much and we wish you good luck in your endeavor to touch lives.

Thank you too. I need luck and prayers.

This interview will be incomplete without sharing Iruka's article on Linkedin which led to my conducting this interview. She titled it 'I am Privileged'. Kindly read on…

I am Privileged

I was born and raised in Nigeria. I have a name people can barely pronounce. I belong to the minority population in the United States. On the surface, these attributes do not exactly scream privilege for someone residing in the United States. Yet, I consider myself privileged. I was born prematurely during the Civil War (Biafra War) in Eastern Nigeria. A lot of babies born during the war did not survive. Some died of malnutrition; some from minor ailments. I not only survived, I thrived. The war ended a year later. I grew up healthy and, thanks to my parents, got a pretty good education and joined the workforce. I eventually relocated to the United States 26 years ago and have lived and worked here ever since.

I had several advantages by virtue of my birth order, incredible upbringing and God's infinite Grace which I did nothing to earn. These advantages gave me a leg up in life. I am fully aware of the fact that I am one of the lucky ones. This, however, does not mean that I never faced hardships. I have had my share of them, some of which are ongoing.

When I was younger, I took many things for granted and spent a lot of time focusing on what I did not have. I have since adjusted the lens with which I view my world. My 50th birthday is a few months away, so I began the process of counting my blessings as well as itemizing and ranking my privileges. I was surprised to see that having health insurance ranked pretty high! Probably not the best insurance and quite costly, but at least I have one. This realization galvanized me to think about all those who cannot afford health insurance. Or worse, those who live in a country where most people do not have access to basic health services.

Once I began to realize how fortunate my life has been, I understood my privileges, and that moment of comprehension was followed by another: acknowledging my privileges requires me to be responsible and look out for those who are less fortunate. I must use my privilege for good, and I now ask you to do the same.

I embarked on a project to raise funds to donate much needed medical supplies and equipment to Imo State University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. This is a huge undertaking and I would appreciate your assistance.

For more details, visit https://www.gofundme.com/50k-by-50-to-transform-healthcare

Together, we can improve healthcare in that community and afford them better opportunities. As they say, health is wealth.

Dear Readers, she has said it all. Let's join hands with this amazing woman and make the world a better place. God bless us all as we make our little contributions towards this noble initiative. God bless you all!!!

Did I mention she's my sister??

Yeah!!! Iruka is my elder sister

Barrister Iruka Ndubuizu

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