By Amarachi Okpunobi
I remember while growing up, Mummy will come back from the market with goodies of kpofkpof and others. She will hand it over to me as the youngest then. There is one instruction that she always gave then and I have failed to forget; "baby share it with them". I remember I always refuse to give to my siblings and will cry out loud anytime they snatch it away from me. I will whail and lay on the ground with the expectation that they will return it but no, they will still make jest of me while they eat it before me. I grew this way for a little while, till one day one of my sisters had to beat the hell out of me for not sharing with them.
From then , I began to share things even when I am not happy doing it. That way, they taught me that it was my obligation to give and share what I have with someone even when they are not related to me and I think that is what it means to be a humanitarian. Giving!
Chioma Ngaikedi is a young humanitarian whom I was lucky to have met last year. I would say she is one of the best things that happened to me last year, 2018. Chioma is a writer and the author of Sahara Claws. She is a poet, a filmmaker, a motivational speaker and anything creative you can imagine. She is a carpenter too.
When we became friends on Facebook, I started following her. She is ever active on Facebook. Chioma will post every bit of where she went to, how she went there, the different characters she met on transit, why she went there and what she was able to achieve for that day. It seemed like Facebook was her diary. But I wasn't surprised life of a writer.
Little by little, I began to notice her everyday encounter with the less privileged ones, beggers, and even little children who hawk on the road. Of which one of them is the case of Remilekun Afolayan.
Chioma met Remi in a bus at Lagos where she resides. Remi had tumor in her mouth which had successfully disfigured her physique and dried her up. On their first encounter, people didn't want to sit beside Remi or even near her because of the disgusting saliva that rains from her mouth uncontrollably. Remi would always go with a handkerchief to dry up the saliva but stubborn ones will still persist to disgrace her. Chioma was sitting near Remi in the bus that day and as humane as she is, Chioma empathized with Remi. She began talking with Remi who was shamefully but pitiably covering her mouth. Thereafter, Chioma got to know Remi better and followed her home. That was the beginning of a saving and better life for Remi.
After the encounter, Chioma as usual wrote about Remi on her timeline, soliciting for help from Chi family to unburden Remi with the scar she bore in the society. Chi family is the social media family of Chioma's Friends and fans. I can also say that she had indeed built a family on social media. Comments rained down and help began to come for Remi. First,people began to make donations to Chi Family's account to enable Chioma take Remi to hospital at least for a proper diagnosis. Chioma did exactly as Chi Family wanted and Remi was diagnosed.
The diagnosis needed a surgery to be performed on Remi in order to remove the tumor. But that moment, Remi was placed on drugs at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. For months, she lived that way.
Donations continued to be made for Remi by Chi Family. That was an indication that there are still many beautiful souls on earth who understood the act of humanity and can go an extra mile to put a smile on someone's face. Prior to meeting of Chioma,Remi had no savings and bank account. Chioma with the money donated by Chi Family opened an account for Remi and subsequent money donated was sent to that account. One distinct thing I so much love about Chioma was accountability. Chioma made account of every dime that was spent on that account till the surgery.
Few days before the surgery, the doctor documented that Remi is anaemic and so will be needing a blood transfusion.
There go Chioma again with Chi Family. She pleaded with Chi Family and blood was donated. The Tumor was later removed from Remi and as dated today Remi is living a comfortable life in Lagos. Nobody needs to discriminate or make jest of her. The saliva that falls off from her mouth no longer disgraced her. All thanks to Chioma Ngaikedi!
That same last year, Chioma came across Ogadimma. A young girl who was a school drop out. She had met Ogadimma in Imo State. Chi Family had also planned to enroll Ogadimma in a Saloon to learn hair dressing. Though Ogadimma gave up to Hepatitis weeks later before Chioma could come back from Lagos for the enrollment but the efforts Chioma to makehe learn a skill still speaks till date. This also led Chi Family to hold a free medication on hepatitis, this was for Ogadimma.
Just recently, Chioma met with a family of four in Lagos during one of her purchase in the market. The mother who was mentally deranged posed a great challenge to the kids who hawk all day to make ends meet. Chioma again made this known to Chi Family who with their help has successfully taken their mother to a psychiatric hospital. Hopefully, their mother will be back to sound health and the kids enrolled in school.
These are just but a few individuals Chioma has left with a smile.
Chioma does all these willingly and sincerely. Her humane spirit has earned her trust from Chi Family and many others.
If there's one thing I have learned from Chioma, it is how to love indiscriminately and I think that's the joy of living. I have also learned to expect nothing from people whom I have and will help in the future.
Now, to my dear Chioma, you are a humanitarian indeed and your legacy will continue to speak for you. To Chi Family, thanks to you all for loving others and giving out without discrimination. Souls like yours are much needed on the earth most especially this part of the world.
#This piece is dedicated to World humanitarian day, August 19, 2019#