Letters from Teresa/Ozioma

Letters from Teresa/Ozioma

Ozioma Hope for Wellness USA Corporation

"WE NEVER KNOW THE WORTH OF WATER TILL THE WELL IS DRY" Thomas Fuller Gnomologia, 1732

September 12, 2015                                                                                                                                                                                        

 
"WE NEVER KNOW THE WORTH OF WATER TILL THE WELL IS DRY"
                                                                                             Thomas Fuller
                                                                                       Gnomologia, 1732
 

Dear Family and Friends,
 
I write to you today with a joyful update on our well and a plea to donate to help complete this critical project. Last years generous donations enabled us to install a solar well, dedicated to the memory of Christine and Andrew McMahon.  I’ve included pictures below of the well and the people that benefit from the clean water, because of YOU (apologies for the quality of the photos, these are the first that I’ve received from the villagers and I was eager to share the progress)! Our well in Umuduofara, Ehime MBANO L.G.A. Imo State has been running since June 1, 2015, a great feat as previous attempts at this site failed. Additionally, the well’s solar panels mean that the well runs on a renewable energy source, and no villager is taxed or required to pay a fee for the water supply.
 
That being said, we are desperately in need of a final $3,000.00 to complete this solar well so that it is intact for years to come and able to provide clean, healthful water to approximately 600-800 people daily. The remaining work is to ensure the integrity of the project and protect the well – including barbed wire for enhanced security of the solar panels, door and lock system for the powerhouse where the switches and electronic system are housed; to place concrete slab landscaping around the well to avoid any environmental damage (from plants, animals and especially during the rainy season). In addition to galvanize the water tower stands.  Without this well, access to potable water is a daily struggle - trekking in excess of 5 miles to fetch contaminated water for drinking and domestic use. Many times those tasked with fetching the water are the children, exhausting themselves with the trek before school, directly impacting their health and academic performance - I also included a picture below of one of the current unfit water sources, that shows two school girls in their uniforms before school. This trek to unclean water will be completely eliminated once this solar well is complete.  YOUR well will greatly increase the health in these villages eliminating water borne diseases and enabling children to dedicate more time and energy to their schoolwork and their future.
 
And so, I ask you to please consider donating to Ozioma Hope for Wellness TODAY, so that we can complete this solar well the right way and give the simple and critical gift of clean water to these people. Whether you are yet to donate, or if you already have and can spare a bit more, your support would mean so much – preventing death, a child’s brighter future, a true HOPE FOR WELLNESS.
 
Please know that I so greatly appreciate all you have sacrificed and all of your support and prayers.  I close with words of gratitude and devotion to completing this project from Bonaventure Ezeji, the engineer and on–the-ground manager, to you, the sponsors of this critical well:
 
“Successfully completion of this project as proposed is a monumental achievement for all persons involved, especially to the villagers that stand to benefit immensely from every day use of the borehole.  To the sponsors, it is fulfilling acknowledgement to know that one can make difference in another individual’s life regardless of background and the distance that set us apart.  It’s worth mentioning here that too often projects of this type is never completed without stories of mismanagement of funds or bureaucratic delays frustrating the efforts and the spirit of the sponsors, no such thing happened on this project. Again, on behalf of the villagers and me, thank you for all you have been doing for the less privileged people in our community, and please extend our gratitude and appreciation to all the sponsors and donor families as well.”
 
 
All our love, which is a portion of God's love,
Ozioma of Igboland  and  Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp.
 
PS – Additionally, I want to remind everyone to please use Amazon’s charitable giving platform AmazonSmile, it is such a simple way to support Ozioma Hope for Wellness (with no cost to you!). Simply go to smile.amazon.com (I bookmark it to make it even easier to return) and start your shopping at AmazonSmile just as you would at Amazon.com – all of your settings are the same. On your first visit to AmazonSmile you’ll need to select Ozioma Hope for Wellness as the charitable organization you’d like to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. Amazon remembers your selection, and then 0.5% of every eligible purchase you make at smile.amazon.com will result in a donation to Ozioma Hope for Wellness.
 
All my love- which is a portion of God's love, 
 Ozioma of Igboland

In memory of Christine M. McMahon, one of our Volunteers and my dear friend

                                                                                                                                                                         December 11, 2014 
 
"WHAT WE DO IN LIFE ECHOES IN ETERNITY"
                                     From the movie Gladiator


Dear Family and Friends,

 

    I am writing this newsletter in loving memory of my dear friend Christine M. McMahon, who passed away on August 15th of this year. Christine is not only dear to my heart, she is also dear to the mission of Ozioma Hope for Wellness. You may remember hearing about her in 2011, when she volunteered to join my efforts for thirty days in the villages of Nigeria. It was there that her spirit shown – her gentleness, humbleness, compassion, and self-sacrificing ways in the face of deep suffering and sorrow. She brought hope, healing love and joy to the people, especially the children. In many ways her time and work with me in Nigeria felt dedicated to her son, who had tragically passed only eight months before our journey together. And it was amazing to see the ripples of joy that the people she cared for brought into her life.

 

There is a quote by Mother Teresa that I feel speaks to my time with Christine, it reads:

 

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only love.”

 

I saw this deep love in each aspect of Christine’s life - in times of peace, joy and unfathomable pain. To continue this love, and honor the memory of Christine and her son Andrew, it is the hope and plan of Ozioma Hope for Wellness and Christine’s family to bring life giving water through a solar well to one of the villages of Nzerem in  Ehime Mbano L.G. A. Imo State. This town is where Christine joined me during part of her mission. The communities of Nzerem are in desperate need of water and the villages are separated by hills which makes fetching the water more challenging.  

 

And so, I ask you to support this life saving gift and join me in honoring the life of Christine and Andrew. Our goal is to raise enough funds to install both a solar well and to pipe the water into its neighboring villages.  The previous solar well we installed cost $35,000.  The area of Nzerem has a much deeper water level so the proposal will most likely be higher.

 

Thank you in advance.

Please continue to pray for us and be assured you are all in my daily prayers.  Christmas and Hanukkah blessings of Peace and Joy to you and your families.

 
 
 
Below is Chrisitne's Newsletter she wrote upon her return
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               December 17, 20011

 
 " HOW FULL OF SORROW IS THIS PASSING WORLD, AND YET HOW FULL OF JOY IN THE DEPTH OF SORROW."
                                                                                                                 Cornelia  Connelly, shcj

 
Christmas and Hanukah Blessings from Nigeria,
 
    Christine and I arrived in Nigeria on December 2nd and are both well.  I have asked Christine to write something of her feelings for this newsletter and have included some pictures of her experiences here in the villages.   Below are her words. I will write to you at another time.  May your hearts be full of joy and peace.
 
     "On December 1st, 2011 I left behind my life in America for one month.  I knew that I would be embarking on territory that I experienced only through short glimpses of video and pictures that Teresa/Ozioma had shared with me.  On my arrival I was very surprised to receive the warmest greetings that I had ever had in my life.  The love is abundant and the joy is contagious.  This is seen and felt even though the vast majority I met were suffering. From the market to the villages, churches and hospitals, but there still remains hope, especially through their unwavering faith and strong prayers.  I will be leaving here shortly but the experience shall remain with me forever."  
With a grateful heart,
Christine 

   Thank you for all your love, prayers and support,
 
All my love- which is a portion of God's love, 
 Ozioma of Igboland
          www.ozioma.org
Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation 
P.O. Box 933
Stoughton, Ma.  02072
 
 
 
HOME VISITS

Children gathering around as we walk trough the villages  

Rev. Fr. Patrick, Christine, Rev. Fr. Godwin Celebrating mass

  Hospital Visit - Birth of new baby boy   

Emmanuel recovering after his 7th surgery

Ozioma, Rev. Fr. Cyracus, Christine

 

 

 

 

Shop at AmazonSmile and Amazon will donate to Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp.

Shop at AmazonSmile and Amazon will make a donation to Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp.

Just click this link!  http://smile.amazon.com/ch/80-0461564

“One would give generous alms if one had the eyes to see the beauty of a cupped receiving hand.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

July 31, 2013

“One would give generous alms if one had the eyes to see the beauty of a cupped receiving hand.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 
Dearest Family and Friends,
 
Here is our mission trip told through pictures taken over the 3 months I was there. Two volunteers came along for a month - CJ my nephew who came last year and his friend Adam.  They were a blessing and gave so much love and received so much love, which Adam wrote about in his newsletter he sent upon his return.  It was a shorter mission trip for me than usual as I was due back for a very special occasion - MY OLDEST SON GERRY'S WEDDING!!!  It was a beautiful wedding and I thank God for my safe return, so that I could be a part of their celebration of marriage.
 

March 1- May 1, 2013 Mission Trip 

 

 

Checking in at the Delta counter with 9 bags of medical supplies, water purifiers, clothes etc . CJ returned for his second time  with his friend Adam.

 

Waiting for our flight which was cancelled due to maintenance problems with the aircraft. We had to stay overnight in Boston to take a early morning flight, Unfortunately this caused us to miss our connection flight from Lagos to Imo State.  Be that as it may,  I thank God for our safe arrival.

 


Delivering some hospital equipment to a nearby private hospital. Emmanuel noticed through the rear view mirror that we had lost one of our mattresses and so they walked back to retrieve it. Thank you Emmanuel!

 

CJ, Adam, myself and some children bringing one of the many wheelchair's to someone housebound. The red bag is file with water bottles from the well Fr. Godwin put in this past year for the villagers. It will be used by the man receiving the wheelchair to soak his diabetic foot ulcer after is mother boils the water and lets it cool down. The man’s blood sugar registered high on the glucometer and is now taking insulin and having dressing changes two times a day. His foot and two toes are in grave condition. I am working closely with a Dr. to monitor his progress and sugar levels. He eventually was hospitalized near the end of my stay.

 

Children helping me bring another wheelchair to a woman who had suffered a stroke. the children love to help me and I love their help. They teach me IGBO as we trek along the roads. 
 

 

One of many canes given to people in the villages I live in. Before this man used a stick from the farm as his walking stick. He loved the 4 prong bottom of the cane stating it made him feel more steady. He is one of many stroke victims in my villages, which sadly could possibly have been prevented with screening. People had no means of checking their Blood Pressures unless they went to a hospital which they couldn't afford.  Now thanks to all of you, they receive free screening in many areas. 

 

Dr. Emeka Nkume from Nkume Traditional Bone Healing Hospital with CJ, Adam and I, along with some of his patients that received crutches and bandages. Dr. Emeka had surprised us with some beautiful traditional wear.

 

The gentleman who was given the wheelchair and water bottles in a previous picture is hospitalized here at People’s Community Hospital in Ihitteafoukwu Ahiazu Mbaise L.G. A.   He stayed for up to two months, receiving 3 blood transfusions and had surgery to amputate 2 of his toes, at no charge.  Dr. Silas saved his leg and his life!  This hospital is very close to the villages I work in.  Dr. Silas allows me to bring patients who are in need of medical treatment to his hospital.  He refuses no one and treats them even if they have no means of payment.  GOD BLESS YOU DR. SILAS! You are a gift to us.

 

CJ, Adam and I having a little fun after a long hot day. This is a few days before they would return to the USA. They brought much love and care to all they met.

 

Going over a broken bridge to see the only water source this village has. Many cases of diarrheal diseases due to the contaminated condition of the water. Education on preventing water borne diseases were given to the people of this village for two days, along with some purifying water buckets and mosquito nets.

 

A child coming back from fetching some of the water. He will trek about 1 1/12 miles to his hut and then return to fill another jerry can of water. This village is in desperate need of a well.

 

A husband and wife receiving one of the many Sawyer water purifying filtration system we brought. See www.sawyer.com  for more information.

 

Children retrieving water from the well Fr. Godwin put in the village this past year. God Bless You Fr. Godwin for clean, safe drinking water.

 

One of the many smiles and greetings I receive every day as I pass someone by.

 

Two women waiting to have their Blood Pressures and Sugar Levels checked. The woman on the left is blind and she loves to sing with me.

 

Children waiting with me for a Dr. that does free outreach with me. They will be checked for symptoms of worms, diarrheal diseases, malaria and malnutrition and treated medically as needed.

 

Children I met along the road.

 

A chemist in the nearby market is learning to use a Blood Pressure machine for her practice. Most of the chemists do not have a BP machine and are giving out tylenol for headaches instead of checking first to see if the complaint is due to High Blood Pressure - a dangerous error with severe complications, even death.   Diabetic Blood Sugar machines were also given out this year to many volunteers. along with diet education. By volunteers I mean they do not charge anyone that comes for screening only for medicine if needed.

 

Here is a log this chemist and many others will be keeping.

 

Another volunteer who will check BP readings in her surrounding village.  She is not a chemist, and was trained on using the machine and educated on signs and symptoms and diet. She herself is suffering from High Blood Pressure. The first time I met her her reading was 170/96. Her blood pressure is being maintained by diet, medicine and visits to the medical Dr. that works with me. She is a young mother of two children.

 

I’m off to the market on a okada, the taxi service available in the villages!!!

 

Children  coming back from school and the farm that I met along the road. They are both in their school uniforms.

 

A group of children in the village that received a soccer ball ("football" as it is called in Nigeria). This was one of nine that CJ brought to distribute to the children. Thank you CJ!

 

One of the many children that received  new clothes and shoes thanks to Melissa and Bob who each year donates suitcases of new clothes, jewelry and shoes. It is such a awesome feeling to give clothes that have never been worn before. with the price tags on them.  Thank you Melissa and Bob!

 

One of the many people that received reading glasses thanks to Randolph Eye Association in Massachusetts.  This is the second year they have donated glasses. Thank you R.E.A.  The expression on the people’s faces when they find a pair of glasses that they can see with is priceless. What a gift, the gift of sight and reading.

 

These woman showing off their bible covers donated to me by my sister Helen. Many people received her covers and were very grateful. They are avid readers of the bible and always bring them to church.  Also these woman are among many who received rosary beads donated by Holy Cross Family Ministries in Easton, MA. This year 800 were donated by them and distributed freely throughout the villages and on Mothers Day at Mass by Fr. Godwin and I.

 

Saying goodbye during mass at St. Lawrence Catholic Church on my last Sunday before returning to USA.   Fr. Godwin and the parishioners sent me off with a special blessing and prayer service.


 

 
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
 
 Upon my return to the villages, I will be residing in the rectory I have stayed in the last 2 years and have been offered a residents quarters of my own by the Dr. who admits and treats my patients according to their financial ability. I will not be working for or in the hospital, I will continue the outreach in the villages. 
  I pray, by the GRACE OF GOD and through GENEROUS DONATIONS that we can raise over $60,000.  The money raised will go towards good hospital equipment, for the hospital I will be residing in and our continued outreach in NSU, Ehime MBANO L.G. A. and the surrounding villages.  I cannot do it alone, I humbly ask you to sacrifice and give so that others may LIVE! 
 
Please continue to pray for us as we are praying for all of you.

All my love,
which is a portion of God's love
 
Ozioma/Teresa
 
Donations may be given through the web site or may be sent to: 
 
Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp.
PO Box 933
Stoughton, MA  02072

Ozioma update: Newsletter from Adam Matson

 

Last summer, the moment CJ told me he was thinking on going back to Nigeria, I told him I would be joining without hesitation. Just because of the enthusiasm CJ used while explaining how unbelievable his trip was in 2012, there was no question whether or not I wanted to be a part of it when he went back.  He spoke so highly of the villagers he was able to help and of the work he and Ozioma did. I kind of just signed the dotted line without reading the fine print so to speak.  After that, the trip was still not a reality in my mind as so often things like this can fall through.  Then it came time to send my information to the Nigerian embassy and apply for a visa, and again I didn’t hesitate. Next came the night CJ sent me the information to purchase our not so cheap plane tickets.  I tried to not think much about my bank account and kept repeating my friend Steve’s mantra of “YOLO” (you only live once), and I continued to sign that dotted line.  Then when it was about two months before our trip, I finally told my parents about my plan.  That didn’t go over so well.  After much disagreement, dozens of emails from my father about the dangers of Nigeria, offers to buy my plane ticket back, and as the date of departure got closer, the reality of what I was doing still had not hit me. Ozioma later told me this was because God was guiding us and had placed us in a state of peace with our mission. I thought it was just because I was too busy applying to medical schools and wrapping up any work I had at my job to think about what I was getting myself into. Either way I am so happy that I decided to take part in this adventure with one of my best friends, CJ, and his crazy aunt, Ozioma, or Theresa as many of you may know her as.

            To introduce myself, my name is Adam Matson and I graduated from Northeastern University in 2010 as a Health Science major with CJ.  In the past I have been an EMT and I am currently doing clinical research at UMass Medical School.  This coming year I will begin my medical education to become a physician.  As you are reading this you probably fall into one of three categories. One, you have no to little idea of what the Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation does or how it operates.  Two, you have been told about the near miracle work that Ozioma does in Nigeria yet cannot fully appreciate it because you have only heard secondhand.  Or three, you have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the life changing mission work that is done essentially by one person. If you fall into the first two categories I will do my best to describe how incredible Ozioma’s work with the poor in Nigeria truly is, and if you fall into the third I only hope to accurately describe what you have had the distinct pleasure to witness yourself.

 

                                            

 

I have heard many questions from people throughout the whole process of planning, partaking, and returning from my three week trip. Like, “why give to the poor in Nigeria when there is poverty at home?” Or “how do you know you are going to make a difference in these people’s lives?” I asked myself many of these questions before Nigeria, but I knew that if someone is dedicating their whole life to this mission then it has to be more meaningful than I could imagine.  This was proven to me when I traveled with Ozioma this past March.  I will try to give you a glimpse into the life I lived while in Nigeria and the life I witnessed the Nigerian people lead.

Our day would often start quite early, as we rose at 5:30 to get ready for morning mass. I learned that many Nigerians got up much earlier to trek and fetch water for their families.  In my normal life in the US, daily mass is a foreign concept for me but as we were staying with the loving and generous Father Godwin, we were happy to pray with him every morning.  When mass got out around 7:30 we would start our health clinic.  People would come from all of the surrounding villages to see us, some waking up at 4 or 5 am to trek miles just to receive our care! We would meet with patients right outside of the church from the end of mass until we had seen everyone, usually lasting until about 12-2pm. I describe the care that we gave to the villagers as; we were the primary care physicians for people too poor to go see doctors at a hospital (there are no forms of health insurance in Nigeria). Most of what we did was basic screening for very preventative diseases. Blood pressure, diabetes, malaria, typhoid, worms, and HIV screening etc. We were able to teach patients ways to improve their health including simple diet changes and more sanitary lifestyle habits such as where people get their water. Ozioma also partners with local hospitals and well trained physicians in Nigeria that are willing to help our patients, sometimes free of charge, and this is just because Ozioma also helps the doctors by donating medical equipment.  When our clinic ended, we would have our lunch and relax a little during the heat of the day.  CJ and I often used this time to go outside and play with the children in the village, teaching them AMERICAN football among other activities. Later in the afternoon we would trek to the homes of those in the village that could not make it to the clinic yet needed our attention. The basic care that is needed and the poverty that exists in Nigeria astonished me.  But the thing that I can still not get over more than that is the appreciation the villagers showed us for the work we did.  The way their faces lit up when we would give them advice or even give them a hug is enough to put a smile on my face whenever I need one for the rest of my life.

While we were seeing patients at the clinic, often times we were able to make an impact on someone’s life just through our knowledge of leading a healthy lifestyle or screening them for very preventative illnesses, however sometimes we came across patients that had a life-threatening sickness. The story of Hippolitis is one of these occasions. It started when an elderly woman walked up to CJ and me after morning mass.  Most people approaching us at this time of day are seeking help for themselves but this lady hunched over using a cane had a different mission.  She told us a tale of her son that had just suffered a “stroke” the previous week and also got a “cut” on his foot.  She asked that we visit him in the neighboring village because he could no longer walk. We often try to have people come to us because it would be impossible for us to visit every person in need, however we agreed.Later that day CJ and I trekked 2 miles to the neighboring village and found the nicest most humble 40 year old man named Hippolitis who we could tell was literally days or weeks away from death.  His blood sugar was 625, heart rate was 120, and the diabetic ulcer on his foot had caused an infection that was about to spread through the rest of his body. We were able to clean the ulcer on his foot, and through our partnering with Dr. Jeff (a Nigerian MD who is awesome!) we were able to obtain him some antibiotics, insulin, and medicine to get his blood sugar under control. This could not be done in one visit, so CJ, Ozioma and I went to visit Hippolitis every afternoon for the remainder of our trip to change the dressing on his foot and make sure he was taking the medicine Dr. Jeff had given him. We were also able to teach his mother how to help care for his wounds.  When we met Hippolitis he was bed ridden and could barely understand us because he was so confused .  By the time CJ and I left 3 weeks later, he was able to move around in the wheel chair we gave him and was a much livelier soul.  He would joke with us while we were there and could never thank us enough for what we had done to save his life.

This is just a glimpse into what Ozioma does EVERY DAY in Nigeria.  She is truly an amazing person blessed by God for dedicating her life to this work. I did not even get into the work Ozioma has done to obtain clean water for those not able to retrieve it, but this may be her greatest gift to the Nigerian people.  I hope to someday return to Nigeria and help these wonderful people.  All being well, next time I will be a fully practicing physician and able to offer even more care to those in our world who need it most.  The people of Nigeria deserve this help as they struggle through a life without reliable sources of electricity, water, food, housing, and healthcare, yet they still love life and welcome others like myself with open arms and a smile on their face.  Anyone who has ever brought help to Ozioma in the past or will in the future is truly doing God’s work.

 

P.S. Special thank you to Father Godwin, Dr. Emeka, Dr. Jeff, Dr. Ken, Dr. Obina, Bernard, Mr. Kennedy, Ekena, Michael, and all the others who helped us along the way by feeding us, keeping us safe, caring for us, and making this a trip I will never forget!

P.P.S. Sorry for calling you crazy Ozioma!!! Please don’t flog me next time I see you!

 

Ozioma Update from Nigeria

 

My dear friends, family and supporters,
 
I am back in Nigeria for the months of March and April to continue the mission of Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation. Thank you all for your support and contributions which continue to make my work and impact possible. I am blessed to be joined by my nephew CJ and his friend Adam who will be working with me during the month of March. I will provide a full update when I return that outlines the supplies distributed, work completed and needs and goals for the coming year. Please keep us in your heart and prayers, as I will for all of you. 
 
Easter blessings from Nigeria!
 
Teresa Thomas
Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation

Christmas Blessings, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year, "The Greatest gift you will ever receive will never be found under a Christmas tree. It is far too valuable to be stored in any other place, but in the depts of your heart." ~ Anonymous

 


 

December  26, 2012

"The Greatest gift you will ever receive will never be found under a Christmas tree. It is far too valuable to be stored in any other place, but in the depts of your heart." ~ Anonymous 


Christmas Blessings, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year, 


First, I want to acknowledge the pain and sorrow of all the recent victims of violence in Connecticut and China. All our hearts ache for them, and our prayers are with them. May the families and friends find some comfort at some time, knowing that they are angels in the arms of God, never to suffer again in this world. 

This will be a short e-mail as I know everyone is busy getting ready for Christmas and Hanukkah has just ended and you may be tired.  My trip has been delayed but will return to Nigeria sometime next year.

The well is finally working, after many roadblocks.  Emmanuel called me the other morning and said “mommy, thank you this time last year I was in for my seventh surgery and in so much pain. Today I have no pain and am in school learning to learn to read.”

Four large duffle bags, crutches, wheelchair, canes and walkers are being shipped to the villages.  I have been collecting donations of clothes and medical supplies throughout my limited time here as well as bringing awareness through presentations of the unnecessary suffering in my villages.  Thank you to all who donated.

This is the first Christmas I have been home since my mission began in Nigeria.  Such a contrast, it makes me sad that “we don’t have what they have.”

We say they are the less fortunate, are they?  We who have everything at our hands are always searching for more and better things, buying gifts for the sake of buying for the holiday.

Christmas in the villages of Nigeria is about the true meaning of    Christmas.  “Our Savoir is born.”

My Christmas gift to you is not one of materialism it is the gift of Jesus!   I give you the Gift to receive Eucharist, faith, hope, love of your neighbour, compassion, forgiveness, selflessness, kindness, peace, gratitude, holiness, love, time in quiet solitude, prayer, tears and joy. They are wrapped in the unconditional love of Jesus.”

Through the grace of God, I pray your heart will be open to them and receive them.

Peace, Shalom 
All my love - which is a portion of God's Love,

Ozioma of Igboland 

www.ozioma.org

Celebrating Mass during Christmastime in the village.
A joyous event, that lasts 3-5 hours. Villagers celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with enthusiam. 

 

 

Thanks to generous doners, four large bags of supplies and donations, along with  wheelchairs, canes and walkers, are on their way to the village.

A villager spending time in prayer during Christmastime in Church. A common scene in my villages. 

The Creche in the back of the village church I worship in.  

Copyright © 2012 Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation, All rights reserved. 
Thank you for your interest and support of Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation. 
Our mailing address is:

Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation

PO Box 933

Stoughton, MA 02072


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Help support MedWish International

 

Dear Family and Friends,
 
I need your help. I support MedWish International, a Cleveland-based nonprofit that recovers and distributes medical supplies to help people all over the world. MedWish is competing to win $10,000 worth of pro-bono consulting to help them celebrate their 20 year anniversary and inspire others to join their mission.
All you need to do to help me today is "Like" a photo on Facebook to cast your vote. You can do so by clicking this link: http://echo.bluehornet.com/ct/6169999:2509466579:m:1:106435527:5901D97F94408588284A7D5FFB9EFD2E:r and then hitting "Like." If you'd like to go a step further, you can share the link on your own wall and ask people to vote.
MedWish has spent the last two decades growing from a handful of people collecting supplies in a garage to thousands of volunteers, millions of pound distributed, 90 countries served and hundreds of people helped right in Northeast Ohio. I support them because they support humanitarians, and today I'm asking you to join me. It will take just a minute, it doesn't cost a thing, and it will make a big difference for a cause we can all get behind.
 
Thank you,
Chukwu Gozie Gi 
Ozioma/Teresa 
 

 

Presenting at Immaculate Conception Church Stoughton , MA- August 11-12, 2012

Ozioma and Mike a volunteer who helped during the presentations at Immaculate Conception Church Stoughton, MA. Ozioma presented at all the masses on August 11th and August 12th, 2012 on her missionary work in Nigeria 

Ozioma discussing her missionary work in Nigeria 
from the altar in the Immaculate Conception Church, Stoughton, MA 

Asking for donations to support the Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp. during the presentation at Immaculate Conception Church, Stoughton MA. 

 

Ozioma Video

 
Check it out

“Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God” Robert Schuller

June 26, 2012

Blessings and thank all of you for your support and donations.  This newsletter will be a little different from my previous ones.  I will write my story through my pictures.  I have too much to write to you and if I begin, it will be very long.  I am so grateful for the gift of Christine and CJ as they came to offer their love - they are missed in the villages.  The web site company we were using for Ozioma folded so you will not have access to it for now.  I am in the process of developing a new one with someone who has offered to help.  When it is up I will let you know.  God Bless You all for the Joy you helped me spread.

 


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,


Ozioma of Igboland
     
        Ozioma Hope For Wellness Corporation
        P.O. Box 2661
        Attleboro Falls, MA  02763  

 

Finally the 20 foot container of medical equipment, supplied by MED WISH INTERNATIONAL, arrives safely around 4am on March 9, 2012. The medical equipment was distributed to five privately owned hospitals who I know very well. I want to thank MED WISH for all their efforts and patience as they worked fruitlessly in the process of sending the container. Thank you MED WISH from the bottom of all our hearts. You brought us much JOY!  

Village volunteers helping to unload the container  

Continuing to unload the supplies  

Unloading the beds  

The truck is empty and now it is time to move the equipment inside as we wanted to unload the truck as quickly as possible  

Gregory, one of the village people who cannot walk receives a beautiful wheelchair. Prior to receiving the wheelchair he would spend his days lying on a wooden slab cot outside. If he did need to get around (back inside or to the restroom , etc) he managed painfully to do so by sitting on the floor and using his arms (which have arthritis) to drag himself.  

Another recipient of the medical supplies. Dr Akakwam from Rosita Hospital who is receiving a labor and delivery table along with many other medical supplies. He operates a private hospital close to where I was residing 

One of the hospitals who recieved equipment. This is Dr. Emeka who operates a Traditional Bone healing hospital. Many of his patients are accident victims who can stay in the hospital for a long period of time. One of his patients who will receive a pair of crutches has been there for over a year. 

Nurses at Rosita hospital full of JOY to have the new labor and delivery bed  

Children receiving new clothes that were donated by several people.  One person graciously donated 4 suitcases of brand new clothes with the tags on them. 

Emmanuel figured out to line the children up and call them one by one. It was much easier to say the least.  Good thinking Emmanuel! 

More children receiving new clothes. I noticed that one of the children still wore the one old clothing he had every day. I asked his mother why he doesn’t wear his new clothes and she said “oh they are for Sunday only”  

Joseph, another villager around 28 years old who received a pair of crutches is learning how to use them. Joseph had been in a accident a year ago and each time I would see him prior to the crutches, he was either lying on the wooden cot outside his hut or he would walk small distance with two walking sticks - now I see him out and about!!!.  

Woman trying on eyeglasses for her first time. She approached me when she heard I was giving out reading glasses and stated “please Ozioma do you have glasses that will help me see the letters in my bible- I can’t read them anymore.” This is one pair of the many eyeglasses donated by Randolph Eye Associates in Randolph Massachusetts.  

As you can see the JOY on this woman’s face as she now can see and read clearly with her new eyeglasses.  

One of the families that received a mosquito net. Two hundred nets were distributed to families in need to help in the protection against Malaria. Many children die here in the villages due to untreated malaria. It was painful for me at times as I had to say no to any family that only had one child. I wanted to help as many people as I could with the number of mosquito nets I distributed.  

More JOY and more families receiving nets and preventative education on Malaria. It surprised me to find out that there were people that didn’t know how one contacted Malaria.  

An elderly woman walking back home (barefoot as you can see) wit her new cane. Prior to receiving her cane she used a stick from the farm.  

More families receiving nets. Also in the picture there are blue buckets. These buckets are made by Water Guard. The bucket is filled with dirty water and a capful of a water guard solution is added. The water sits for 30 minutes and then it is drinkable, so as to prevent water-borne diseases.  To my disappointment the Life Straw Company Vesterguard Frendsen whom I previously purchased the lifestraws were out of stock.  So I had to find another company. On reflecting after, it was a good thing they were out of stock because it meant people were buying them. 

More JOY and more mosquito nets being distributed  

and more  

We had just emptied this truck and were returning home. How would you like to drive on these roads- especially after a heavy rain! 

Another truck loaded. I was in this truck for about eight hours driving over muddy roads and ditches. The truck got stuck in the mud at one point and with each attempt we made to get it out, the wheel sank deeper into the mud. Just as we were discussing unloading the truck to make it lighter,- (No JOY in that thought ) villagers came  out of nowhere to our rescue (receiving a free mud bath in return) they pushed, dug, while placing wood and rocks under the wheels until, with shouts of JOY and laughter the wheels spun us out of the mud and we were on our way.  

A clinic being built by the villagers of Umuezealla, Abia State. They have run out of money so the clinic is at a stop for now. They have also received equipment. The nearest hospital’s for them to receive treatment is 1 1/2 hr drive and the next is a 3 hour drive. 

Offering a medical outreach education and screening in the unfinished clinic. More work needs to be done to finish the the clinic as you can see by the picture .  

One woman at the unfinished clinic receives crutches. during the outreach.This village is in desperate need of a well. The closet water source is a stream down a valley which took me more than 1 1/2 hours to get to. I lost my balance when I was just close to the bottom of the valley and went flying down. I was caught by one of the people. I was joyfilled as I was on my way into the stream with my camera and phones on me. I know that would have been a funny picture to send you with me sitting in the stream. I am awed at the way the people and children can walk it, barefoot with no problem.- not to mention carrying the buckets of water on their heads.  

Another truck being loaded with medical equipment.  

Emmanuel is attending school. Here he is with his acceptance file to attend a adult education program from a private school. He is living now with a friend of mine in Abia State and will begin at level SS 2 (second grade). If you recall Emmanuel stopped school at seven years old due to a machete accident he had while he was farming.  

Can’t you just see and feel his JOY. Just imagine, Emmanuel’s life stopped at seven years old as he couldn’t attend school due to his wound and he couldn’t help in the farms. He endured immense suffering over the last twenty one years of his life- and now there is JOY - TO GOD BE THE GLORY- how else could two individuals meet each other that lived countries apart. 

More JOY as Emmanuel is wearing shin guards that my nephew CJ gave him to protect the surgery sites on his legs from any small injury or scrape.
After seven surgeries he is recovering well. The wound has not come back. He also is a recipient of the medical equipment. He received a hospital bed and a dialysis chair so that he can elevate his leg while lying and sitting to help in the circulation of his blood. He loves his bed and chair (better then the matt he was sleeping on the floor with.) We will give the bed and chair to a hospital when he is no longer in need of them.  

 

Newsletter from my Nephew

Blessings to you and your family,


Below is a newsletter from my nephew, CJ Nessralla, who recently joined me in Nigeria. I have had extremely limited access to phone and email (my daughter Anna is sending this), and so I will let CJ's words tell his story:

 


“Aunt Teresa is Out of Her Mind!”


 Aunt Teresa is crazy! What is she doing in Nigeria when all her family and friends are here in America? Doesn’t she know there are poor people in America that need help too, why does she have to go all the way to the other side of the world to help people? I’ve heard all these comments many times before. In fact, I have made remarks along these lines myself in the past. I never did understand what drove her half way around the world to do this work. I never did, that is, until spending three weeks with her this past month. I have seen all of the pictures, read her newsletters, listened to her speak about Nigeria. However, until this past month I never truly realized the impact she has on the lives of these people.
 For those of you who do not know me, I am a recent graduate of Northeastern University planning on attending medical school in September 2012. I have been close with Aunt Teresa since I was a child, and have wanted to visit her in Nigeria for the past few years. After having a small fundraiser this past summer, I was able to raise the money to travel to Nigeria and help Aunt Teresa with her missionary work.  I cannot explain to you enough how much of an unbelievable, life-changing experience this was. . For most of the time I spent there I felt like I was in a movie. How this degree of poverty and suffering could still be going on in the world in 2012 is something I am still struggling with. I know we all hear about these things, and see the commercials on the Christian Children’s Fund, but to witness this first hand is something else entirely.  I remember seeing one 24-year-old boy who was involved in a car accident about a month before. Like almost every other 20 year old I met there, both of his parents had passed away. Without any family to help him financially he sat for 3 weeks with his femur protruding from his leg because he was unable to afford medical treatment. Trying to imagine someone going through this without any antibiotics, and any pain medication seems almost fictional, but this is just one of the many examples of extreme suffering I witnessed during my time there. I could go on for days describing each individual story, and would be glad to speak of some in more detail if you ask me in person, but for the sake of brevity I hope this example was enough to illustrate the situation.
In all honestly, however, it wasn’t the suffering that really moved me but the overwhelming joy amidst suffering of the villagers I worked with. These people lack electricity, food, water, access to even basic health care, and adequate housing. Yet they greet each day, and the people they encounter throughout it, with a warmth and appreciation I have never seen elsewhere. The day I arrived I spent over an hour being embraced, kissed, and welcomed by every single member of the village I lived in. Every person I met throughout my trip greeted me in the same manner, with an appreciation and love you do not see here at home. “Welcome Annocha, Welcome Annocha! We love you! God bless you!” That was all I heard when I walked around the village. People would offer me their last morsel of food, or the only valuable they possessed after simply screening them for high blood pressure and diabetes. The day I left people were dropping to their knees and embracing my legs to show how much appreciation they had for me, and how much they desired me to stay. I honestly can’t speak enough to the feeling you have when confronted by people with such warmth and genuine love.
Enough about me and my trip, the real reason I wrote you all is to provide insight into the life of my aunt,  “Ozioma” of Igboland. The Igbo people gave her the name Ozioma, meaning good news, but more informally she is referred to as Mother Teresa to most of Imo state Nigeria. I cannot think of a more fitting name. Even in the short time I was there I witnessed her work towards providing a clean water source for an entire village of people, give food to those without any, provide life saving medical care to countless villagers, educate everyone she encountered on disease prevention and proper nutrition, and simply show these people that they are not forgotten – that there are still individuals out there who truly do care for their wellbeing. When I was traveling through the country with her it was hard to go anywhere without someone stopping us and thanking her for saving their fathers life, or teaching their family about disease prevention, or giving mosquito nets to their children, or whatever it happened to be that day. She truly is a saint. She lives away from all American comforts, with no electricity or running water, little food, even the medicine she has goes to the villagers instead of herself, and she does all this without asking for anything in return. The work she does in Nigeria is like nothing anyone could imagine, and I feel it could be an inspiration to many if they were made aware of her level of selflessness.
I still think my Aunt Teresa is crazy in many ways. However, nothing she does in Nigeria should be considered anything less than miraculous. I understand now why she travels halfway around the world to help these amazing people and I genuinely cannot wait until I have the opportunity to return.


Thank you for taking the time to read this,
C.J. 

 

 

"When ever one performs a single mitzvah (act of kindness), it tips the balance of one's merits and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverace and salvation to oneself and to others." 
   -  Book of Teshuva 
    This is implied in the teaching in Proverbss (10:25) '"A righteous person is the foundation of the world; meaning, one who acts righteosly, tips the balance of the entire world and saves it."
     Rabbi Uri

 

October 22, 2011


Blessings and Peace to You,

 

It has been a busy four months since my return to the US.


     To begin with the more difficult news in my update to you all:
Medwish International, which accepts and distributes used medical equipment and supplies to countries in need, is an organization that I have been blessed to work with for the past few years. A shipment of a 20 ft by 20 ft by 20ft container was to be shipped last month thru Medwish and a private donor was to pay the shipping costs to Lagos.  For unknown reasons, and to my great disappointment,  the donor backed out at the last minute and it is no longer possible for me to ship  the container.   Our disappointments can be God's appointments.  It turns a hospital closed in the Ohio area where Medwish is based and a new supply of equipment was sent to them.  To my pleasure there were labor and delivery tables, which are needed for the health care center.  Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp. will be working on picking out supplies to now send either 2 or 3 pallets of equipment and supplies thru Medwish.  (For more information and to support Medwish International, please visit www.medwish.org )
     It has also been a difficult year in fundraising for Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation. Much of my efforts have been put towards finding a doctor or organization to help Emmanuel. And I am sorry to say that no positive response has come from the effort thus far. Emmanuel’s condition is grave, and I have been unable to find assistance.

    As I said, it has been a difficult year, but as I have seen in the people of Nigeria, hope and faith allow you to prevail, stay positive and move forward. Not in my time, but God’s.

    That being said, I will now share the more hopeful updates:First off, the work of spreading the message and mission of Ozioma has begun to take to new heights by my appearance on radio and television, along with the wonderful sermon of a wonderful Rabb.

     On September 1st I was Dick Murphey’s guest on WXBR AM 1460. It was my first radio broadcast for Ozioma, and the 2 ½ hour call-in broadcast was an uplifting and great experience. Dick and his co-host Jack were a pleasure, and I was able to reach a new audience.  After the positive feedback of the radio show, I was invited to be on their Local News Broadcast, which aired the week of September 26th. 

    On Yom Kippur, my nephew Rabbi Uri Toplosky,  (www.BethIsraelNOLA.com )  spoke on "The Butterfly Effect" focusing on my work and lifestraws. As I read the sermon, it is amazing to read of all of the people who were able to make the work and mission of Ozioma possible. I am happy to send the sermon if any one would like.  

   Secondly, while it has been difficult raising direct funds for Ozioma, there have been a few monetary donations and numerous donations of clothes, toys and basic medical supplies for the people. These donations allowed me to send four large duffle bags to my villages last week. I hope and pray they will arrive safely and completely before my arrival at the start of December.

     Thirdly, I am happy to tell you of the volunteers who have come about since my last newsletter. A dear friend, Christine, will be traveling with me this year, to work with the children in my villages. Additionally, my nephew CJ and his friend will be coming next year to organize soccer (football) teams in the villages incorporating "Wellness" into their drills and overall message.

     And just last week, a woman volunteered to host a fundraiser that aims to raise the funds to assist in the cost of shipping 2 or 3 pallets of medical supplies from Medwish to Lagos (which I spoke of at the start of this letter), and in purchasing Lifestraws and mosquito nets from Vestergaard Frandsen www.vestergaard-frandsen.com 
      And so, it is with a grateful heart, that I want to thank Medwish International, Gerry Jira, the children at St. Barnabas school and their teacher Sherry, Anele in Nigeria, Mike, Boutros, Melissa, Anne Marie, Christine and all of you who have gone beyond your comfort zones to help me. I also ask that any one who is able to please donate to Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation, even the smallest donation makes such a difference in the work I am doing.

 My prayers for you are always included in daily mass.

 

All my love- which is a portion of God's love,


Ozioma of Igboland

 

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others"
                                                                                            -Pericles

 

July 24, 2011


Blessings to all of you,
    I am still in the USA and plan to return to Nigeria around November.   I apologize for the length of this newsletter.


     Emmanuel is still going to the Dr for dressing changes for the one area of his leg that still has a wound. There is a possibility that he will need another surgery.  Over and over in my prayers I ask, no I beg God to heal his leg,  I ask for perseverance and wisdom for myself on what is the right avenue for him. I ponder many times that if Emmanuel had been born in the USA he would never have had to go through so much pain and suffering.  He most likely would have finished college and have a profession, maybe even a wife and children.  Comparatively, his life came to a standstill at the age of  seven after his farm accident. Due to his mother's poverty level he was unable to receive proper medical care.  He had to stop schooling hence, he cannot read or write, has no profession, no wife and children.  In fact he has spent  the last 21+ years of his life watching his age mates finish school and go on with their lives, as he remained immobile enduring pain and now for the past four years five surgeries.   
  
    I am in awe of Emmanuel because each time I talk to him on the phone, he tries to comfort me!  Can you imagine that!  He probably hears the despair and frustration, being miles away and feeling helpless.  He says  "don't worry mommy, God is in control and God's time is the best time  God will bless you, as you are the only one that has ever helped me.  If it wasn't for you I would be six feet under now."  I tell him "Emmanuel my blessing will be your healing."  Then I cry after I hang up the phone from him.  How can a young man remain strong in the light of all his suffering knowing he may be going for another surgery.  It's HIS FAITH, what an inspiration and gift he is to me.
    
    Emmanuel has to have his dressing changed three times a week, which makes it impossible for him to see his primary Dr. as he is located in a different state.  There is a Dr. close to Emmanuel's village who has been helping Emmanuel and I over the past 4 years and he is giving of his time freely to help with his dressing changes. I thank God for him and his efforts to help us.
  
    It is an ordeal for Emmanuel when he has to see his primary Dr.  Emmanuel saw his primary Dr last week.  He left his village at 5am taking public transportation, changing vehicles three times and it took him over four hours to reach the hospital.  Emmanuel tells me his wound is draining and he feels "bone pain" which alarms him.  He is in alot of pain emotionally and physically.  I have been busy trying to find a Dr or organization here in the USA to take him on as a charity case, but so far,  to no avail. I will keep inquiring.  In the hopes of finding someone here in the USA I had one of my priest friends help Emmanuel get a passport.


   Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp is hoping to send a container of hospital equipment to two facilities in Ehime Mbano.  One is a clinic in Nzeremand the other a Traditional Orthopedic Hospital. The bulk of the equipment will be sent to improve the clinic and the excess room in the container will be filled in with bandages, casting material, orthopedic walking devices such as crutches, walkers, wheelchairs etc. for the traditional hospital. 
 
    If you can recall from a previous newsletter Nzerem is one of the poorest areas in Ehime Mbano and is deep in the bush.  The people have no electricity, no bore holes, no hospital close to its vicinity and during the rainy season the roads are washed out so it is almost impossible to get in or out of the villages there.  The clinic is staffed during the day with a nurse and the Dr. comes occasionally to see patients.  He is always available to the nurse by phone for consultation. He is a native of Nzerem and works in the city in the field of  HIV/AIDS.  He also has a passion for helping the less privileged and also is trying to improve the facility.  He is the Dr. we will partner with if we can raise the money to send the equipment. As you can see in the pictures below the clinic is almost barren.  Can you imagine this is called a clinic?


   The other facility is a Traditional Orthopedic Hospital which I had visited numerous times during my last trip.  They do amazing work with sparseequipment and supplies.  As you can see in the pictures they use sticks wrapped in toilet paper to brace the broken bones and manipulate the bone back into place by hand, feeling to see if the bone is in place.  Many of the patients in the hospital are there close to a year, some more than a year.  To my surprise the patients were all happy and smiling.  None of the patients had bed sores and no one has ever died there (I say this because there are many fatalities in the hospitals).  They refuse no patient due to financial ability.  There are many, too many auto accidents due to the conditions of the roads and the high speeds the people drive with. 
  
   It is our wish also to purchase mosquito nets, life straws, blood pressure machines, blood glucose monitors/strips and other supplies to help decrease the mortality rate. 


   On a lighter note, it has been very hot here the last few days with temperatures reaching 100 degrees.  Twelve hundred people in my town lost electricity for one hour during one of these hot days and people were complaining about how unbearable it was.  I stated to one person , "ahh now you have a taste of what it is like in my villages.  We do our farm work and walk to fetch water under the blazing sun.... and we do not have air conditioning."  You should have seen the look on their face, it was priceless. All they said is "wow, I should be grateful."  I just smiled.

 

    If you would like to give a donation to help improve these two facilities and purchase more supplies, please see the address below.  Please continue to pray for Emmanuel and The Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corp. be assured you and your families are in my daily prayers.


As Emmanuel said to me, I will say to you in Igbo
CHUKWU GA-AGOZI GI
(GOD WILL BLESS YOU)


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,


Ozioma of Igboland
      
        Ozioma Hope For Wellness Corporation
        P.O. Box 2661
        Attleboro Falls, MA  02763

 

 

 

      EMMANUEL WHEN I FIRST MET HIM IN 2007

 

 

 

   EMMANUEL AND HIS MOTHER IN 2008 WHEN I TOLD

 THEM HE WAS GOING FOR HIS 1ST SURGERY 

 

 

 

EMMANUEL RECOVERING AT HOME         

  

 

 

EMMANUEL IN HOSPITAL AFTER 5TH SURGERY AFTER FIRST SURGERY

 

 

 

TRADITIONAL HOSPITAL DR SETTING THE BONE             

 

 

 

WRAPPING STICKS WITH TOILET PAPER TO USE AS SPLINTS

 

 

 

ONE OF THE WARDS OF THE TRADITIONAL HOSPITAL,

notice the beds- could you lie on one of these beds for close

 to a year?  There is a hole cut out of the bed so that you can

 releive yourself as they are bedridden for a long period of time.

 

 

 

NURSE IN WARD OF THE CLINIC

 

 

 

DELIVERY ROOM OF THE CLINIC-would you want to deliver a baby here?

 

"There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers"- St.Teresa of Avila

 

April 7, 2011


Blessings and Love from Nigeria,


    Emmanuel had to be admitted to the hospital again for the 5th time, on February 9th.  He went to Enugu Teaching Hospital where he had his surgery last year.  Deplorably, the hospital staff went on strike the day after he was admitted.  He was receiving minimal treatment which basically only included dressing changes.  He was receiving no antibiotics and the condition of  his leg was getting worse.  He was scheduled for surgery on February 24th, which was cancelled due to the strike.  My only option was to transfer him to another hospital. Emmanuel was concerned as he wanted the same surgeon that performed his last surgery ( a gentle, compassionate and gifted surgeon-one that I have never seen the likes of before).  He was transferred on March 1st, to a private hospital, where his surgeon had operating privileges. 
   To our dismay, the x-ray of his leg showed bone involvement.  He was to undergo two surgeries.  The first, which was on March 8th, entailed two procedures: a bone scraping of the infected bone area and a muscle flap-in which the muscle from the calf of his left leg would be attached to his right leg covering his wound. He would have to maintain a very uncomfortable position for the three weeks post surgery, awaiting his next surgery. He went back into surgery on April 1st to detach the right leg from the left  and also had a skin graft (his 5th one).  He has maintained bed rest since February 9th, consequently developing a  bedsore over his coccyx, which has since healed. 
    He undergoes excruciating dressing changes, actually three; one after another lasting up to one hour.  Most hospitals here in Nigeria, that I have witnessed, do not medicate the patient prior to a painful procedure.   Watching him as he suffered thru the first dressing change, was overwhelming for me to experience, I almost broke down, but for the sake of him I maintained myself which took almost all the energy and strength I had, holding back my tears and gasps of breath, the gasps you make when you are trying not to cry. I finally asked the Dr. to stop and medicate him and later asked him to do so in the future prior to the procedure.  It is inhumane to me to allow someone to suffer thru a procedure that could be tolerated better with medication.
   To my dismay, there is one area of concern over one area of the bone scraping.  The Dr. said it is too early to tell but it could mean one of two things.  One it will take a very long time to heal (which is what Emmanuel has been going thru for the last 20+ years now) or he may need another surgery.  I said, NO, we will pray for a MIRACLE!  For what the Doctors have not been able to succeed in, my God will perfect it.
    I SEND YOU THIS NEWSLETTER, WITH ALL THE DETAILS, IN HOPES THAT YOU WILL EARNESTLY PRAY FOR THE HEALING OF HIS LEG.  PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS, THOSE WHO PRAY AND THOSE WHO SAY THEY DON'T PRAY-TO PRAY FOR EMMANUEL (GOD WILL KNOW WHO THEY ARE REFERRING TO).  I THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR PRAYERS, AS I WILL FIND HOPE AND PEACE IN YOUR PRAYERS FOR HIM.


 All my love- which is a portion of God's love,


Ozioma of Igboland


                   
        Ozioma Hope For Wellness Corporation 
        P.O. BOX 2661
        Attleboro Falls, MA 02763

 

 

EMMANUEL AFTER HIS FIRST SURGERY

 

 

 

 

EMMANUEL RECOVERING FROM ANESTHESIA AFTER SECOND SURGERY

 

 

 

EMMANUEL RECOVERING, SCARS ON LEFT LEG ARE FROM PREVIOUS SKIN GRAFT

 

 

 

Faith is daring the soul to go beyond what the eyes can see.    - William Newton Clark

 

February 23, 2011

 
Blessings and Love from Nigeria,

    This has been a very difficult trip this time.   Serious challenges  have developed in connection with the well, but  am working to resolve them and will have more information hopefully in my next newsletter.  Emmanuel is back in the hospital and will undergo a muscle flap surgery which will entail two surgeries and much pain.  After he was admitted to the hospital, the staff went on strike and he received no medication, no labs etc for one week, consequently his wound became worse and now his surgery which was scheduled for Feb 24th is rescheduled for March 3rd, as now his wound is infected.  The well and Emmanuel have taken up much of my time and are a few of the challenges I am faced with.  With your prayers and the assurance that "all will be well" through the grace of God,  I continue to persevere.   
      Below are a few pictures of my stay in the villages of  Nzerem with Fr. Cyriacus. I have traveled to Nzerem two times and have been warmly welcomed by the two parish priests and the people.  I accompanied Father each morning before dawn, driving in the dark, over bad road conditions and hills, to a different village each day, to celebrate Mass with the people in the remote villages. Father beeps his car horn as he passes through the village and rings a "Ikoro" ( a sort of gong or musical instrument seen below) signifying that he has arrived at the place where Mass will be celebrated.  We have celebrated mass  in town halls, under a very large Achi Tree (as pictured below), in the 2 churches in Nzerem.  We have also gone after mass on house calls together to visit the sick (also seen below).  Also seen are pictures of the peoples joy as they receive the donated chaplets, metals and scapulars.  I feel like I am in a movie as I partake in his mission work .  I am looking forward to returning to Nzerem again for another week or two once Emmanuel has had his first surgery. 


     Below are some pictures of the children in different villages of Nzerem receiving some of the Life Straws that were donated by the students of St. Barnabas School in Ohio.  Fr and I took them to the stream to teach them how to use them correctly.  Seen in one of the pictures are the children walking from the stream back to school.  The distance is long, and the hills and bad road conditions are a challenge.  You can just imagine the time and energy the children use to fetch water.  Also seen are pictures of children receiving some of the shirts donated by the Stoughton Library and children wearing the metals donated.

 


     I love you all and miss you.   I thank you all for your support and prayers to the Ozioma Hope For Wellness Corporation.  Please continue to pray for Emmanuel, the well and myself.


I am praying for you and would love to receive mail from you to see how you are.Chukwu Gozie GiAhurum gi nanya

 

All my love-which is a portion of God's love


Ozioma of Igboland
      
        Ozioma Hope For Wellness Corporation
        P.O. Box 2661
        Attleboro Falls, MA  02763

 

Adjusting to life back in the USA.

 

June 19, 2010

 

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared. - Buddha

 

    
Dear Family and Friends,
I have been in back in the States now for a little over one week and have found myself already engrossed in the work of furthering the Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation efforts here. Coming from the past six months in Nigeria and putting the money, supplies and support raised to bring hope and wellness to the less privileged,  I am inspired and excited to again begin development, fundraising and sharing the mission here.  And while the work in Nigeria and the work here in the States differs in many ways, the need for transportation in order to truly reach people and broaden my efforts is the same. My work now, as many of you know from last year, involves traveling around the country and giving talks, presentations and lectures to raise money and awareness of the mission along with finding organizations to partner with. I found it very difficult last year to schedule and give these talks, due to the fact that I had to depend on others for transportation, and many missed opportunities resulted. That being said, I am asking for a donation of a car to the Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation.  I ask now, as the non-profit has been approved here in the US and therefore any donation would be tax deductible. If you personally know of such a person/car dealer, I would deeply if you could connect me to them.  Please get back to me with any input and thank you for all of your help and support thus far. 
With a grateful heart to God, I am happy to tell you that I found a place to rent and will be moving into my new home tomorrow.  I will be sending out my newsletter hopefully by next week, as I am still working on organizing my pictures and readjusting to life back in the US-I'm sorry for the delay!


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,


Ozioma of Igboland
      
        Ozioma Hope For Wellness Corporation
        P.O. Box 2661
        Attleboro Falls, MA  02763

 

Second Story Regarding My Mission in Nigeria

 

September 29,2009

    The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was:  

" If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?"  But...the

good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help

this man, what will happen to him?"  

            Martin Luther King, Jr.

BLOOD PRESSURE SCREENING

 

                

                        

                Checking Blood Pressures in Town Hall                                                     Checking Blood Pressure in Clinic After Hours

 

 

                  

                 Children Learn to Take Blood Pressures                                                  Checking Blood Pressures at Homes of Villagers

                              

 

                

              Papa Suffering From a Stroke                                Mama Died 6 Months After This Picture Was Taken From a Heart Attack

 

 

        As I trek through the villages visiting the sick and homebound I am stopped countless times throughout the day by villagers who, aware of the blood pressure cuff I carry in my backpack, ask me to check their blood pressure.  On any given day, a walk that should take about 15 minutes, ends up taking over three hours, and what started as individual requests quickly becomes long lines of villagers eagerly and desperately awaiting their chance to be evaluated.  At first, I was astonished with the number of extremely High Blood Pressure readings that I would get and the number of people walking around with undiagnosed Hypertension.  Readings that would cause any Westerner great alarm because  of their knowledge of the grave consequences of untreated Hypertension. Yet a test so vital, was not available to the poor within my villages and is commonplace and easily accessible in the States. 

  I found the number of strokes, heart attacks and deaths due to this treatable condition disheartening. Having only a limited supply of medicine, the only treatment I have been consistently able to offer is education on diet, stress relief and warning signs as well as meditative prayer.

   Almost as shocking as the high readings, was how quickly the readings changed. To my great pleasure many of the readings when checked after only a few weeks had decreased significantly (those that remained high were encouraged to see a doctor). It was evident to me that there was an immediate need for regular-community-based Hypertensive screening programs and preventative education.   And so began my attempts to offer free screening of blood pressures at designated times and areas in the villages  and to the homebound, as seen in these pictures. The gatherings of villagers was also a way to incorporate preventative health education on AIDS/HIV, TB, waterborne diseases & hygiene, as well as a time for me to answer questions relating to their health and wellness concerns.  It is my hope, upon my return to Nigeria, to bring back blood pressure cuffs, medicine and to train local volunteers to provide free ongoing screening in each village. 

  So again I am reaching out to all of my friends and family to see if together we can change the plight of these people.  I assure you that every dollar I raise will go directly to the medical care for people in my villages.  

   If you have already donated, I thank you and the people of my villages thank you.  If you would like to give, there is still time and your help is still very much needed.

                  Please send your donation to:

 Ozioma Hope for  Wellness Corporation

 P.O. Box 2661

 Attleboro Falls, MA  02763

 

   Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

   All my love- which is a portion of God's love, 

   Ozioma of Igboland

 

Please Read When You Have A Few Quiet Moments

 

September 13, 2009

 

 

Dearest Family and Friends,

In the next two e-mails you will receive from me, I will share a story to hopefully portray my experiences of the unnecessary and preventable suffering in my villages.  

 

“Past the seeker as he prayed, came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten.  And seeing them…he cried, “Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?”  God said, “I did something I made you.” 

                                                            Author Unknown

           

BABY IJEOMA, OZIOMA AND HER MOTHER

ON OUR WAY TO THE MEDICAL CLINIC

 

 

 

                            

 

   Baby Ijeoma, which means "safe journey" in Igbo, was about eleven months old when I first met her.  Her mother was a young widow whose three year old son had died the year before of the same symptoms Ijeoma was exhibiting:  difficulty breathing, cough, fever, and diarrhea (symptoms that are not life threatening to us).  Her mother, holding a limp and almost lifeless baby, held out Ijeoma for me to hold.  With a look of helplessness and tears streaming down her cheeks she exclaimed that because she had no money to see a medical doctor, she had taken her baby to a traditional chemist for treatment and her baby was getting worse.  Together we trekked to the closest medical clinic (about a 30 minute walk) where Ijeoma was given IV fluids and medicine for malaria, parasite and typhoid fever.  

   Baby Ijeoma later died in the arms of her mother. Her death was a result of the contaminated water she consumed and her mother’s inability to afford medical treatment and medicine due to their poverty level.   Clean, safe drinking water and medicine would have spared Ijeoma's life. At the time of Baby Ijeoma's death, the only water source available to her mother was a contaminated stream.  Water borne diseases and malaria claim the lives of so many people in my villages; many who are children, like Ijeoma, under the age of five.

  

  I see this type of suffering as deplorable, yet preventable.  I am reaching out to you and asking you to join me in bringing "Hope and Wellness" to the poor, by sending a small donation so that when I return to Nigeria in November, I will have medicine and medical supplies to increase their quality of life.  I have already raised $1,950 and need a minimum of $5,000 to be able to partner with Medicines for Humanity.

  I have been told that I have made a difference in these villages, although this may be a true statement, my vision is broader.  As one person, I am limited…but with your support and prayers, instead of just making a difference, together...

WE CAN MAKE AN  IMPACT.

 

 

Please send your donations now to:

 

Ozioma Hope for Wellness Corporation 

P.O. Box 2661

Attleboro Falls, MA 02763

 

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

 All my love- which is a portion of God's love, 

 Ozioma of Igboland

 

OZIOMA  HOPE FOR WELLNESS  FOUNDATION

 

July 23, 2009     

 

Dear Friends:

 

I have great news that I want to share with you instead of my usual newsletter!

 

The Ozioma Hope for Wellness Foundation has now achieved NGO status in Nigeria!

 

We are in the process of filing for 501(c) (3) status in the US (Massachusetts), which translates to non-profit status here.  We have secured the services of Medicines for Humanity who has offered us an incredible discount for medicine.  MFH will ship the medicine to Nigeria for us.  (Please see their website for additional information- www.medicinesforhumanity.org ).   I am encouraged with the work that has been accomplished so far (working with The Rotary Foundation with a water project), but another key component needed to directly impact the health of the people of Igboland is medicine. 

 

I now turn to you for possible help. 

 

In order to have medicine available to me when I return to Nigeria in late November, I need to raise a minimum of $5,000 by September 1 (less than forty days from now) so that the medicine can be purchased and shipped in time for my return.  This amount may seem daunting to you but I have already received $1,600 so I am very optimistic and pray that the additional monies will be raised among all of my friends and associates. 

 

I am currently taking pledges for financial commitments and once I have the money committed I will come back to you with the time frame in which I will need to collect it.  If it is easier, however, you can send your check immediately.  Since our 501 (c) (3) is in process at this time, your check will need to be made payable to another organization, Water is Life Inc. that I have partnered with to accept donations on our behalf.   However, please include on the memo lineOzioma, so that Water is Life Inc. will be able to recognize that the donation is for Ozioma Hope for Wellness Foundation.  This may sound confusing but I want to be able to offer you the tax deduction allowed by the IRS.  I ask you to e-mail me attttrn2006@yahoo.com with your pledges or the dollar amount sent to Water is Life , Inc. I will update you with the progress of the pledges and donations I receive.

 

Your check should be made payable to: 

Water is Life, Inc.

7402 N. Rockwell Street

Chicago, Illinois 60645

 

Please contact me directly if you have any questions.  You may also visit my website, that my son Gregory created, www.ozioma.org  Thank you for assisting me with my mission to help provide clean water for the people of Igboland, to offer medical treatment to the poor and make available education on preventative healthcare.   Most importantly, please continue to pray for our mission as I continue to pray for you.

 

All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Teresa/Ozioma of Igboland

 

Blessings

 

May 14, 2009

 

My dear family and friends,

  I had hoped to send this newsletter out in time to wish you all a Blessed Easter/Passover and here it is May 14th, be assured you were remembered in my prayers as always.

   I think of you often and miss you.  I hope all is "well" with you and your families. I apologize that I it has taken me so long to send out another newsletter.  The Internet has not been working “well” in the villages and I have been spending time in other states in Nigeria, which has made it difficult to e-mail you.  Also aol was difficult to open, so I am using my yahoo address.

    I arrived back to the US May 6th a little tired but grateful to God for arriving safe and sound.  As I peered out the window during the decent a” flood” of emotions “welled” up in my heart as I reflected over the past 6 months and in anticipation of seeing you all once again.  Tears of gratitude “streamed” from my eyes as I prayed, “Thank you God for blessing my life with the privilege of serving the poor.”  I yearn for you, dear family and friends, to share in and receive the blessings and joy, firsthand, that I receive and I invite you to come to Nigeria and share in my work.  I promise you, it will be a heartfelt and life changing experience.

 

    Emmanuel as you are aware from the short e-mail my sister Beth sent you, is home recovering from his second skin graft surgery.  Unfortunately there is one area of the graft that is not taking.  Emmanuel, once again, is confined to limited activity, so is unable to work, which affects his family’s income. I spoke with him recently on the phone and he informed me the graft site is getting worse.  Please keep him in your prayers.

 

   I attended as many rotary meetings as my schedule had allowed, monitoring the progress of the water project.  My desire was to have the water project launched before I left for the US, but to my disappointment it is still in process. One of the Rotarians is following through for me in my absence and is keeping me updated as to the progress via e-mail.  My hope is that this water project will be a catalyst for future water projects.

  God continues to place people on my path that share the same passion as I do, people with compassion for the poor and who want to make a difference in their lives.  It brings joy to my heart as we network together

   One such individual is Chief Dr. Ike Ibe, whom I met at the rotary meetings I have been attending in Uturu, Abia State.  Chief Ibe is a native of Uturu and from my observation works tirelessly to improve the lives of the people, bringing opportunities to help them break through the bonds of poverty, He has done     much to ease the suffering of the people in his village. He invited me to expand my mission to Uturu, and opened his home to me, providing me with food and transportation as needed. I am presently working with him on opening a hospital in Ututru. He has purchased an abandoned hospital building and the architectural plans for the hospital are complete.  Our goal is to ensure this hospital is better equipped and staffed with more qualified personnel than the substandard hospitals available to the people presently.

    We had met with two gentlemen from a medical relief organization from Illinois, which have agreed to partner with us in donating the hospital with some medical equipment.   I will be meeting with them in Illinois in the next few months. We are in need of Laboratory equipment donations, if anyone has any connections please contact me.

   I met with the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Imo State, Mr. Emma Ohakim, who assures me that I will receive support from the Governors Office with my mission.  We will maintain communication via e-mail, while I am in the US, as to how they can assist me upon my return to Nigeria.

   I have opened my own NGO (non profit organization) in Nigeria , “OZIOMA HOPE FOR WELLNESS FOUNDATION”, thanks to the love and sacrifice of two very special people in my life, Onyekachi Armadi and George Nwadike. The first board meeting took place on April 23rd.  The members of the board of directors are committed and willing to work hard to ensure that our NGO becomes fruitful. Their passion for the poor and less fortunate brings me great hope that God will provide through their efforts and thru the compassion of our donors.

   My mission has expanded to areas outside of my villages, which made my work more challenging.  I trekked the villages daily, offering blood pressure and diabetes screening/education; wound care; awareness and education on alcohol/drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, preventative health care education: and caring for the homebound and dying.  

   Water borne diseases, Malnutrition, Malaria, Typhoid Fever, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Infection, etc. continue to claim the lives of the villagers.  Treatable diseases turn deadly due to the inability of the poor to receive proper medical care and clean water.

 

    TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE…

 

 

     Touching lives

          Touching God

                Through the OZIOMA HOPE FOR WELLNESS FOUNDATION

 

 

"Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me."

 (Matthew 25:40)

 

 

           ALL MY LOVE-WHICH IS A PORTION OF GOD’S LOVE,

 

                                                             OZIOMA OF IGBOLAND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Love and Prayers from Nigeria

 

January 5, 2009

 

Oh my dear family and friends,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

MAY THIS NEW YEAR BRING YOU CLOSER TO GOD

AND A GREATER AWARENESS OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN YOUR LIFE

 

        I hope you all received the quick e-mail I sent you a few weeks ago, as you probably noticed, the computer keys stick at the cyber, which makes it difficult to write from there. I have not had much time to go to the cyber cafe and when I do go; the Internet is very slow, which is frustrating for me. When I come home at night, I am tired and there usually is no light, so I haven’t made time to type from my laptop, but will make a greater effort hereafter. I apologize for this lengthy newsletter and hope that as I make time to write at night, I will be able to e-mail you more frequently, so my newsletters will be shorter.

     â€œWELL", I left the US on November 16th and arrived safe and sound to Nigeria on November 17th, unfortunately I didn’t arrived to my village until the 19th. I arrived in Lagos, Nigeria on the 17th to fly out to Owerre the next morning. I missed my plane in Lagos because I went to the wrong airport. I spent an extra night in Lagos to take another flight the following day. Departing the plane from Lagos to Owerre on the 19th was a Rotarian whom I had met while in Nigeria on my previous visit. We talked and you can probably imagine how delighted I was to find out that he is the New District Governor of the Rotary Club in my district. It was by the Grace of God that we were on the same flight and that he was only a few rows in front of me! I met with him a few weeks later and together we called the contact person from my rotary club in the US, who has been working tirelessly with me on a water project for my villages. I will be attending rotary meetings with The District Governor, as often as he is able to arrange rides for me, as the meetings are quite a distance from my villages. We stay in contact weekly by phone. It is my prayer that 3 bore holes/wells will be the outcome through the gift of Rotary!

        I am adjusting back to life here in the villages, although it is much harder for me than previous times, which I will explain in another newsletter. I was greeted with statements such as: "Chukwu Gozie Gi (God Bless You)… You came back!" Followed by hugs and kisses and many smiles… "How are your pecking/children?… Your daughter’s graduation?" … "Your family?" I am touched as they remember I went back for Anna's graduation and for the genuine interest in my family... "Onyeocha you are big" which I came to understand, does not mean FAT!!! -But healthy (phew-ha ha)! … "What did you bring for me?" I reply "A Bigger Onyeocha!" as I round my arms in front of my stomach and we laugh together. After the exchange of laughter, hugs and kisses, I am quickly brought back to the reality of life here in the villages, as I am told of the numerous deaths of their loved ones, while I was in the US. Tears “well” up from my heart, their faces change from joy to sorrow, as they share the stories of their deceased with me. The gunshots, signifying another death or the start of a burial, continue throughout the day on a daily basis. The wailing of mourning as a result of yet another preventable death and the cries of sick babies and children wake me from my sleep many a night. Too many people are dying due to lack of clean water and the inability to receive medical care and/or authentic medicine Can YOU IMAGINE, being deprived and dying due to this merciless way of life? Untreated Water-borne diseasesMalaria, Typhoid, Rheumatic Fever, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Malnutrition, Childbirth etc., are claiming the lives of so many impoverished people here.

        On or about December 24th, as I was walking into my complex, I met a man who was bringing his wife to the mortuary. (If you remember from my first newsletter, I live next to the mortuary.) With tears in his eyes, and a look of heartache he told me that it is inconceivable to him how he took his wife to the hospital a few weeks ago, to bring her back as a "corpse" for Christmas. I offered to go into the mortuary with him as he brought in his wife. It was difficult for me to walk in, but I drew up the courage as I contemplated how his grieve, was greater than my fear! I have always avoided going into the mortuary, for fear of what I may see, and my fears were validated. I gasped at the number of bodies lying in the mortuary. This was an experience I hope I do not have to repeat.

As I wrote to you last time, Emmanuel is back in the hospital. We went to The National Orthopedic Hospital in Enugu, on December 23rd. Ironically this is the same time last year that Emmanuel went into the hospital. Last year he went in with a sense of hope and joy... and now he goes in with a sense of despondency and despair. The hospital is in another state, so it is very difficult for me to see him, which adds to Emmanuel’s distress. I do not have the funds for transportation to the hospital, so we talk briefly on the phone throughout the week. He had a biopsy and bone scraping on Dec. 30th, which will take two weeks for the report to come back. He will then undergo another surgery, pending the results of his biopsy.

        His mother, if you recall from before, is a poor widow of 8 children and has verbalized to me, that she feels helpless as she has not had the means to provide him with the medial care he has needed and feels a failure as his mother, as she did not have the funds to treat the wound which had returned. She also, is unable to go to the hospital and it is breaking her heart. I can empathize with her pain and have encouraged her to contemplate again on "The Blessed Mother's" suffering as she stood by, in prayer, watching her son Jesus suffering and dying on the cross. As I listen to her cries and the cries of so many here, there are no words that can take away their suffering. A suffering that is unjustly endured by so many here! I hold on to the prayers and love I can offer them, and pray that, in time through the love and compassion of others, they will be granted the basic necessities needed for life.

        I have met with my Eze (king), Eze Boniface and have requested that a representative from each of my 12 villages drives me to each village to do health screening and to visit the dying and homebound. Eze Boniface will call a meeting of the 12 chiefs from each of the villages to make these arrangements for me. He continues to be supportive of my mission in his villages. My vision is to set up Blood Pressure/Diabetes centers in each of the villages and to train volunteers to screen the poor and homebound and to provide health education. In doing so, I will have more time to minister to the homebound and dying. I am in need of 13 BP machines (electronic wrist machines) and Diabetic strips/control solution for either OneTouch Ultra 2 (LifeScan) or FreeStyle Flash (Abbott) Blood Glucose Monitoring System. If anyone is coming to my area in Nigeria, I ask you to bring me any number of these items that you can, as I am not able t obtain them here.

        I have gone to the Local Government Office and spoke to the Chairman and asked him to make arrangements for me to meet the Governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ohakim. He has begun to make some positive changes in my state and I hope that he will be of some assistance to my needs for the poor and sick. To date, I have not had a response from the Chairman, so am looking into other avenues to meet the Governor.

        When I entered Nigeria, immigration stamped my visa for only 3 months, so I have to apply for an extension, as my return ticket is for May and 3 months is not enough time here to make headway. I will apply at that time for a residential visa.

I also have made contact with Amaka, the woman who's NGO I am now a part of (Isaiah 58 House). I have spent a few weekends at her home and she has been gracious and very supportive of my vision. Her spirit of compassion and self-sacrifice for the less privileged and neglected is an inspiration to me. We have become good friends, as we share the same passion.

        I am beginning paperwork to open my own NGO, thanks to the help and guidance of two individuals that I met in my villages. They have been an unexpected gift from God to me, as they offer their time, expertise and compassion to my mission. I am touched by their selfless efforts!

        The children, as before, are teaching me Igbo. , and are very patient with my pronunciation and me. They work so hard, at such young ages, selling goods in the market, working in the farms, trekking long distances to fetch water and to gather firewood. Those that attend school also trek long distances to the school. I try to bring a smile to their faces with puzzles, stickers, games, songs and bubbles-oh they love the bubbles! The children’s sunglasses are a hit, thank you!

        I do not want to tire you out with such a long newsletter, so I will write more to you in the next newsletter. Hopefully I can send it out sooner, so as there will be less for you to read. Please know that I love you all so very much and hold you in my daily prayers. Without you, none of this would be possible. Your love and prayers have touched so many here, and carry me throughout the days and nights. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers.

I will end with one of the prayers I wrote in an earlier newsletter:

 

SUFFERING AND DEATH

CONTRIBUTED BY

CONTAMINATED WATER,

COMPOUNDED WITH AN INABILITY TO RECEIVE PROPER MEDICAL CARE

CONTINUES TO PLAQUE THE POOR IN MY VILLAGES.

A SUFFERING THAT IS UNNECESSARY AND UNWARRANTED

AND THROUGH HELP,

CAN BE STOPPED.

AFTER LIVING AMONG THESE PEOPLE,

AND WITNESSING THEIR SUFFERING,

THEIR RELIEF

HAS BECOME MY PASSION.

A PASSION THAT IS ATTAINABLE THROUGH INTERNATIONAL COMPASSION.

THROUGH THE GRACE OF GOD AND HEARTS OF LOVE,

I PRA Y THAT

MY PASSION WILL BECOME YOUR PASSION!

 

 

 

 

 

CHUKWU GOZIE GI (GOD BLESS YOU)! 

 

                                      

                     All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

                                                                     Ozioma of Igboland

 

                                                     A hurum gi n'anya (I Love You)

                                                                               Chukwu Gozie Gi (God Bless You)

 

LOVE FROM AMERICA

 

June 26, 2008

 

Blessings to all of you,

 

    I have been back in the US for about 1 1/2 months now and  I sit here contemplating the last few months. There was a deep sadness leaving to come back to the US and a joy to share in my daughter Anna's college graduation and to see my children, family and friends again.   Anna's graduation was wonderful  and I was blessed to be able to spend time alone with her for a few days after her graduation.  She has a bright future ahead of her and I am excited to see how her life unfolds.  I haven't had the joy of seeing my other 3 children yet because they all live in different states, and I need coordinate their schedules with mine.  I look forward to being with them again soon.   

    Before I  speak of life for me back in the US,  I  will bring you up to date in Nigeria, prior to my return to the US.  If you recall a burial committee had begun in January, in an effort to decrease the unnecessary financial stress on the poor after the death of a loved one. The burial  committee  formulated  ideas, which were brought before the parish council.   There upon,  burial guidelines  were established and approved by the Bishop of  our Diocese, Bishop Solomon Amanchukwu Amatu.  As of June 1, 2008 the guidelines were implemented with positive reactions from the people.

    A mission team (Mbano National Assembly) of medical Dr.'s, nurse's and volunteers  from the US, came to a hospital near my villages to provide free surgeries and medicine for the poor. I joined their team and worked with them for 3 days. The crowds of sick people, many of whom were children and elderly, waited for hours upon days under the hot sun, to see a Dr. and receive medicine or surgery. The mission team worked long hours bringing hope to myself and the people, that we had not been forgotten.  I am grateful for their efforts. I offered to be a part of their team when they return and look forward to their help again.

    Emmanuel is doing well and is caring for the wounds, in my absence.  He continues to be tutored by Julius.  We speak on occasion and the last time I talked with him he said he has a new wound on his leg, which is causing him concern.  He is taking an antibiotic now, and will watch the wound closely.

     Patricia, the 21 year old girl mentioned in my last newsletter passed away 6 days after my return to US.  It was a very painful experience for Patricia and I on our last day together, for we both knew we would not see each other again in this life..  Rightfully so, Patricia and her mother were devastated that I was leaving her.  It was  one of the most agonizing and heart wrenching moments in my life,  as I walked away that day.  Her eyes filled with sorrow and fear as tears streamed down her face, her body weak and so very thin.  Although, in the silence of my prayer, I left her into the care of  God,  it did not alleviate the felt sense  that  I was abandoning her.  How could it make any sense to her, that I was leaving as she was dying?  My heart aches even now as I write about her.

    Being back in the US,  with no home or car, is difficult but I am grateful for my sister Beth and her family for opening their home to me and those that have also invited me into their homes.  

    Shortly after I returned to the US, I attended a convention in Detroit, of the Ehime  World Congress Organization.  They are individuals whose roots are from  Ehime Mbano  (where my villages are), who live abroad and work towards improving the Ehime community.  They invited me to speak at their conference and included me in their weekend activities. It's always a pleasure for me to be with the Igbo people.  Their hospitality and love towards me, extends even here in the US.  They were dressed in their native attire  and playing their native music. which always brings a smile to my heart.   Surprisingly, there were people there that I had met in the villages in December when they were home visiting their relatives, and those whom I did not know, but knew of me.   

     I have been attending as many rotary meetings with the Westwood Rotary Club as my schedule allows, and will be presenting at two other rotary clubs in July.  Mike Razza, a Rotarian from the Westwood Club, has been instrumental with helping me make contacts for a water project and maintains contact with the rotary in Nigeria.  I am grateful for the time and effort he has put in.  I believe a water project will  eventually "flow" out from all his efforts. I continue to keep contact with the Rotary Club in Nigeria via e-mail, as "well".

   I am giving presentations to various organizations and  homes of individuals who have invited people to listen to my story.  Charles, the man from Nigeria that I met in the US last year, at morning mass,  has been very supportive and has arranged talks for me also.  I have made two more DVD's that I can send to anyone that is interested. 

   I am again looking into options of either opening a non-profit organization or to umbrella into an existing one.  Time will tell.

 

 "The synchronicity of events and people placed on my path throughout this journey,  I can only attribute to "Divine Intervention." 

                                                                                                          

  May your hearts be open and attuned to the "miracles" of  "synchronicity " in your own lives! 

                                        

When I  first met Father Paul and approached him stating I would like to do missionary work for about 3 months, in an area that has no help.  He looked at me, paused and with a soft, smile said... 

"3 months" ???  Ohh......   Now, I understand his response.

 

 Suffering and Death  

contributed by

  contaminated water, 

 compounded with an inability to receive proper medical care 

  continues to plaque the poor in my villages.  

A suffering that is unnecessary and unwarranted

 and through help,

can be stopped. 

 After living among these people,

 and witnessing their suffering,

 their relief

 has become my passion.  

A passion that is attainable through international compassion.  

Through the grace of God and hearts of love, 

I pray that...

 "my passion will become your passion!"

                                      

 

                     All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

                                                                     Ozioma of Igboland

 

 

A hurum gi n'anya (I Love You)

Chukwu Gozie Gi (God Bless You)

 

THIS NEWSLETTER IS IN MEMORY OF PATRICIA, MAY HER SPIRIT TOUCH YOUR HEART AND LIVE ON IN HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS.  NO MORE SUFFERING DEAR ONE, ONLY PEACE AND JOY IN PARADISE.         

 

Pictures with Newsletter 14

 

All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

Newsletter

 

April 10, 2008

 

Dearest Family and friends,

 

  Happy Easter/Passover Blessings to all of you.  The Easter celebration was, as last year, very moving and uplifting.  I believe I shared my experience of Easter last year in one of my previous newsletters.  It has been a while since I wrote to you and I apologize.  I am tired when I come back at night and most of the time the electricity is not on when I am able to write. I don't receive as much sleep as I would like due to the excessive heat at night, the roosters crowing outside my window beginning anywhere from 3 am on (I go to my window and sometimes am aggravated telling them shhhhh,  but to my dismay, they persist), the beginning of burials signaled by gunshots at 5a.m. and the sounds of the gong.  The gongs are a means of communication (as they do not have home phones)  through various patterns of the sound.  The women communicate through a metal gong and the men through a wooden.  It is interesting to listen to the different signals.

 

   Emmanuel is doing well and is fully recovered.  Thank you for your prayers for him. He walks with me almost every morning and visits the sick with me.  He is now helping to care for a man named Julius.  Julius is a 65+ year old diabetic who has been suffering from a extensive wound on his left foot for over one year.  One of the pictures I will send is of Emmanuel dressing the wound.  Emmanuel is familiar with pain and the inability to walk freely due to his past injury.  As he had cared for his own wound for so long, he is cautious with the dressing change.  When his mother saw him attending to Julius's wound,  she exclaimed  "Emmanuel a Dr?"  Unfortunately, he has not attended school since the age of 7, due to his accident,  he is unable to read or write. This I found out while he was in the hospital, when he was unable to sign a release for surgery.  Julius is a retired teacher/principal and is now tutoring Emmanuel on the days he cares for Julius's wound. It brings me joy to see how God has woven them together . God is wonderful! ARE YOU SMILING NOW-!!

 

  The Hamma time season of the dry winds has passed and the rainy season has begun which brings about heavy rains and strong winds. When it is not raining it is extremely hot.  Due to the heavy rains and winds, the cell phone net work is not always working so communication with my children and siblings is less often.

 

  The people are now busy preparing the fields for farming and are working very hard from dawn to dusk.  If you recall from my first newsletter of last year, they are farmers and the scant income they bring in, is from the harvest of their farms. The fruits of their labor does not provide for their daily needs of food and medicine. 

 

   As I trek from village to village, the suffering due to hunger. lack of clean water and little to no medical care is immense.  I am stopped, with almost every step,with the cries of the poor; "Onyeocha (white woman) I am hungry and have no money to feed my children...Onyeocha, my head pains...Onyeocha, my body pains me (pointing to knees, back and  legs) ... Onyeocha,I have heat inside my body, all over... Onyeocha, I have a feeling of worms crawling throughout my body...Onyeocha my eyes are not good, I cannot see...Onyeocha, look at my wound (I gasp at the extent of the wounds)... Onyeocha, my baby,  please make my baby well....Onyeocha,I have been to Dr.'s...hospitals.... chemists...I have sold my land to pay for treatment and have no money left  to eat or feed my children.."  and the suffering requests go on and on. Their eyes reflect their pain and helplessness, yet their smile reflects their hope.   My heart cries as I meet each and everyone of them. What should take me fifteen minutes to trek can take up to 1 hour, as I stop to listen to their struggles.

 

   I check blood pressures after morning mass and  check the people as I trek through the villages.  I also am taken by cyclists to two villages outside my area about every two weeks, as my schedule allows. The blood pressure readings are as high as  160 to 250/ 100 to 152 ( normal is 120/80).  As I do not have medicine, I educate them on diet and silent prayer before God. Their diet consists of alot of salt, fried foods, caffeine which they consume from  "bitter cola,"  tea that is made by boiling the the tea bag and snuff (the elderly) which is a tobacco they place in their gums.  Their daily suffering also contributes to the high readings.  When I recheck their blood pressure, a large percent of their readings have  reduced to safe measure.  It is always rewarding to see their smile when I tell them their BP is good.

 

  I attend to may many wounds as I trek the villages.  Many of the wounds would make you gasp. One elderly woman, for example, cannot swallow medicine so her infected foot is becoming gangrenous.  She pleads to me in her Igbo language, that if I cannot make her well then I should take her to the "bush" and leave her to die. Her pain is immense and I cannot alleviate it or her infection due to her inability to swallow medicine. Praying with her, holding her and changing her bandage is not enough as her wound continues to progress. It is difficult for me to watch her deteriorate and suffer.  I am watching her deteriorate and suffer.  Each time I return to visit  her my heart is pierced sorrow, as she has removed her bandage, and the wound is open and infested with flies. 

 

   I am not able to purchase sterile bandages in the villages, so I thank you for the ones you sent with me and mailed to me here.  I use hand sanitize to disinfect the bowls, sizers, gloves etc.  used in their treatment.

 

  The children are precious as they will stop me and show me a small cut on their leg for me to dress.  Many times I cannot even see the wound or it is already healed This came about when they saw me cleaning a child's wound and placing a band-aid on it.  I smile, put a band-aid and ointment on their cut's and give them a kiss and hug.  They  bring a smile to my heart , amidst the horrific suffering I witness every day.

 

   Since I do not have a car trekking takes up a good part of my day.  Sometimes, the cyclists will pick me up and carry me without charge, and for them I am grateful.  I have traveled with some of the sick to see a dr. in a nearby village, unfortunately the money they have to spend on transport could be spent on their treatment.   I wish I had a place for the sick to stay. as I am not able to visit them as often as I  would like. The hours of daylight go by too quickly, and I have to trek back to the convent before it becomes dark.  It becomes very dark quickly once the dusk begins.

 

   I continue to maintain contact with The Rotary Club here and The rotary in US.trying to help them connect with each other.  I am looking forward to joining the Rotary in US to share my experience with the Rotarians here in Nigeria.

 

   The burial committee is meeting regularly and we will bring our ideas that have been discussed to the Parish Council.  Father Ken, the pastor of St. Therese's Church and Eze Boniface, the traditional ruler of the 12 villages I live among, are part of the committee and are very supportive in bringing about changes to decrease the burden of the cost of the burials.

 

  The burials continue on a daily basis, which is disturbing to all, as many of the deaths are due to no medical care, hunger and unclean water.

 

I could write on and on but I will end here for now.  I will be returning earlier than I planned due to my daughters graduation.  I look forward to giving you all hugs and kisses, and will contact you when I arrive home.

 

  God Bless and may we all be a reflection of the compassionate love of God.

 

All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

2nd Group of Pictures

 

February 6, 2008 

Blessings,

This is the 2nd group of pictures .  I wish they could have been sent in one e-mail, but it wouldn't go thru.  Emmanuel is home and doing well.  There is a few areas on his graft site that need a little more attention and alot of your prayers.  We will see the Dr. next week.

God Bless You



All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Pictures

 

February 6, 2008

 

Blessings,

I hope these go thru.  I have tried a few times with no results, so I am going to send the pictures thru multiple e-mails, in hopes that maybe the file was too big before.

God Bless You



All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Blessings from Nigeria

 

January 22, 2008

 

Dearest Family and Friends,

I am so very sorry this newsletter has not been sent to you sooner. I started it around Dec.18th and finishing it has weighed heavy on my heart, as I do not want you to think I have forgotten you nor do I want you to forget me. The contrast of life in US and the life here in Nigeria caused me great sorrow while I was home. It is hard to put into words what I want to share with you from my heart. I write "generally" when I say, "we" take so much for granted and are somewhat oblivious to all we truely have.

   "Our hearts are full of restlessness,

        Their hearts are full of "Peace"- the Peace of Christ.

    The chaos we have in our lives we bring upon ourselves,

        The chaos (if I can call it that) they have in their lives, is brought on by others.

    We have been blessed with the freedom to enjoy, yet choose to waste, so much of our valuable resources,

       They have been unjustly denied this freedom, yet choose to value the scant resources available to them.

    We strive for happiness thru excess of worldly goods,

        They strive for joy thru trust in God.

   We search for happiness in material lies (more is better) and live for the future,

       They search for joy in spiritual truths ("I am " with you). as they live in the present."

 

I have been back here in Nigeria for close to 2 months now and am adjusting well to life here in the villages once more, it is so good to be back. The sisters have graciously opened their home to me again and for this I am grateful.

This is Harmer (pronounced Hamma) tarn season, a season, which brings dusty winds from the Sahara Desert, which the people here feel as cold. It is similar to our fall weather. I tell them about the winter that my family is now experiencing, and what cold weather means to me, and show them pictures of my children in the snow. Many people from these villages, who live abroad, have come home to their roots to celebrate the Christmas season and to partake in various traditional ceremonies. Due to the multitude of people, the dry roads make it difficult to travel either by foot or transport due to the many cars, motorcycles and people. This brings much dust and when I get back to my home I look like a child that has been playing in the dirt all day. I have many children's fingerprints on my clothing when I return to the convent, due to their hugs. I am getting better at washing my long hair with a bucket of water, due to the dust -I have to wash it more frequently as it is quite dirty.

After being home and everyone feeding me well, going back to rice, yam, bread and beans-my palate begs for more. I think about my daughter, Anna, as she is finishing culinary college and imagine the food she prepares. I have many mosquito bites. The mosquitos here are very small, not like the ones I am used to hearing buzz around me in the US. I do not feel their bite, so I am surprised when I wake in the morning to find many bites. I continue to take my anti-malaria medicine as many of the people suffer from malaria.

 

Father Paul was correct when he told me to wear a do not disturb sign and a dust proof vest. Invitations for weddings and other celebrations, are numerous and many I have to decline. I have witnessed "the wearing of the cloth ceremony," a ceremony which comes about every 3 years. It is a recognition of a adolescent into manhood. I will write about this and other ceremonies in a later newsletter.

My experience is more difficult than before as the 2 hours of electricity I had before was hindered due to generator problems which have recently been fixed. The cell phone net work is now poor and so it is very difficult to receive and make calls. I have not had the chance to go to the cyber cafe much, due to my busy schedule. One of my sisters has sent you the updates to say I am well. I try to write as much as I can after a full day and cannot always read over my draft, so please excuse the writing in my newsletter. I miss my children immensely and think of them all through the day. I am not able to call them as much as before and since I have not had the opportunity to go to the cyber, we have had little contact by e-mail. Of course I miss you my family and my friends also and know that one day I will see you all again.

 

I spent the first two weeks trekking through the villages and reacquainting with the people. It was humbling to come back and have to tell the people I did not have the relief they had hoped for. You probably can imagine the expression of joy on their faces when they saw me and then their sadness with my response. The people are a God trusting people and after their initial disappointment, welcomed me again and thanked me for not forgetting them, stating "God will Bless You." I tell them, "my blessing will be their relief!" My prayer continues to reflect the parable of the good samaritan that Jesus spoke to. Who is our neighbor? And what are we doing for the least of our brothers. What a beautiful world this could be if only we cared for all our neighbors.

I thank you again for the BP cuffs and bandages you donated. As I trekk the villages they have become very useful. Many of the people suffer from High Blood Pressure, with readings extremely high. As I do not have medicine for this condition, I educate the people as to diet and symptoms to be aware of. Prayer, love and education is the comfort I can give them at this time. My prayer continues that in time, affordable/free medical treatment will be available for the poor. I have at this time not made use of the diabetic testing machines that were also donated, as I need to have a larger supply of the needles before begin checking their blood sugar levels.

 

After much effort (my children will tell you I do not have a good sense of direction) I found Emmanuel, the young boy whose picture is portrayed in the DVD. He is the young man I made reference to in one of my previous newsletters with the open wound on his leg that he has suffered with for over 17-years. I wish you were with me to experience the joy coming from his mother and himself when I had told them that I had returned with means for him to receive medical treatment. Her response when I told her he would receive treatment was "Praise Be To Jesus, AMEN, God is good" with arms uplifted and her face radiating joy.

His mother, a poor widow with 8 children, has had to watch her son suffer throughout the years,unable to provide the medical treatment needed. She has relied on her faith and has prayed relentlessly for help for her son. I being a mother, can empathize with the anguish in her heart and the helplessness she has felt and the strength from perseverance in prayer. I have known this feeling and draw from that experience, contemplating The Blessed Mother's heart at calvary. God is wonderful, He has brought the three of us together and I believe God has woven my past anguish, with her present anguish, to bring His healing touch and faithful assurance that "all is well, with God." Through trust, prayer and perseverance God will bring good out of all situations. He is now in this hospital and is receiving treatment.

Emmanuel and I arrived at the Federal Medical Center Hospital in Owerri on the morning of Dec. 22nd. to the casualty unit (Emergency Unit as we know it) which is one large room filled with many beds. Every bed was occupied. After many long hours of waiting , blood work, physical exam and x-rays of his leg were completed. It had been a difficult day for Emmanuel as he lay on his bed in the casualty dept. taking in all that was going on around us. This was his first experience in a hospital and as he lay waiting in the casualty department, neither one of us was prepared for what we would witness that day. There were many people who had come in with grave conditions, many from motorcycle /car accidents. One victim was a young girl who was carried in by a friend, bleeding profusely. She had been in a motorcycle accident and was placed on a bed close to Emmanuel's bed. This was difficult for Emmanuel and I to witness, as she lay within our vision, dying, groaning in pain, and bleeding with inadequate medical care. I knew she was going to die. Each breath she took was heart-wrenching to hear, until finally after about 2 hours she passed away. This followed with the grieving sounds of her family members as they slowly arrived at the hospital. I admire the medical staff in the casualty unit, as they provide care without adequate medical supplies and technology.

 

Emmanuel was finally admitted to the surgical ward, around 10:30 p.m.. I stayed with him in the men's ward to try and make the transition easier for him. The ward is a building which has one large room with about 30+ beds arranged in two rows -the length of the room with an area for the nurses. All of us in the ward have become one family, as we share supplies, stories and prayer together in song. There is the story of Joseph who had been burned with acid, his face unrecognizable which extended down his chest and arms.; Papa with a kidney problem,; Emeka,a young boy post op ortho surgery; Samuel paralyzed from the waist down due to a gunshot wound to his spinal cord. And the list goes on. Ibuprofen seems to be the analgesic administered 3 times a day, not as needed. The patients suffer,as ibuprofen is not sufficient. I have stayed many nights in the hospital, sleeping on a chair next to his bed or on a mat on hte floor as other patients family so also. What the nurses aid's do in our hospitals, a family/friend does for the patient. One of the main reasons I stayed was to try an minimize the chance of him acquiring a nosocomial(hospital acquired) infection or other complications, as the medical care is substandard! Three of the patients in the first three weeks, died in our ward.

Emmanuel had his skin graft surgery on Jan 8th and is recovering slowly, he is expected to be in the hospital for about 6 more weeks. Due to the distance of the hospital from his home and of transport, his mother was unable to be there. I saw her 2 days after his surgery and her response to me was ""I AM HUNGRY TO SEE MY CHILD". Her choice of words pierced my heart, as they reflect her life experience of suffering. The hospital here is on a pay as you go basis and a patient that is bedridden needs to have someone there as all medicine and supplies are purchased by the patient either in the hospital pharmacy (which one has to walk a good distance many times a day to)or in the market nearby. The market prices for medicine are less expensive than the hospital, although there is the chance of fake drugs. Much of my time and energy has been with getting Emmanuel situated. I was not aware that the hospital is a pay as you go treatment center. so if you do not pay, the treatment is not rendered. I was given a donation while here in Nigeria, from someone in the US visiting who had seen the DVD, for Emmanuel's hospitalization inwhich they thought would cover his hospitalization. It has not even come close to his hospital bill, so the ongoing payment continues to be a challenge for me. Your donations of bandages, tape, ibuprofen have helped to lessen the expenses, as they are used daily for his treatment. Transportation to and from the hospital; which can take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on road conditions and car troubles, has been costly for me as I do not have my own vehicle. I brought the DVD players, movies and songs you gave me to the hospital ward, they have brought comfort and distraction from pain, to the patients. They send you a big thank you! Please continue to pray for Emmanuel's recovery and the patients and medical staff in ward 10.

 

Your donations have also helped to repair a bore hole in one of my villages, which was portrayed in the DVD.

I have made contact with Rotary International District 9140 in Okigwe, Nigeria. This club covers the villages I live in. I met with the past- president of this club, Rotn. I.I.Eneruzo, who oversees the water relief projects in my area. He is the person I contacted while in the US after speaking at the Westwood rotary club in Massachusetts. I met with the him, the current president Rotn.U.E.Otisi and past- past president Rotn.C.N.Ukwumah of the rotary club, whom all came to my village on January 15th, to see the proposed site I have requested for a bore hole. The site is shown in the DVD some of you have. The site appears near the beginning of the DVD where the large tree is shown and later in the DVD which shows one of the pools of polluted water. This is one of two sites for clean water, that are desperately needed in our villages. I hope to raise money for the second site, once I have umbrelled into the non-profit organization.

I attended a meeting with the Rotary Club of Okigwe, in which their District Governor, Rotn. Udo Mbosoh PHF, was present and traveled with him and other rotarians, as he visited different areas in his district. I have been invited to speak at a gathering of about 100 rotarians from the 12 districts which the District Governor heads on Jan. 31st. When I return to the US I look forward to speaking to the rotarians in Westwood Massachusetts, of my experience with the rotarians here in Nigeria. Their hospitality and welcoming towards me was gracious.

I spoke at my church, St. Therese, regarding the cost of burials. The poor here become poorer as they sell their land, take children out of school and go deeper into poverty to provide a burial only the rich can afford. A committee has begun to try bring about changes and educate the people as to this unnecessary added burden. Please keep this committee in your prayers as this change will challenge some of their traditional beliefs.

Many of the people, that you have seen in the DVD, have died. Sadly when I returned I was told that the child held by her mother at the conclusion of the DVD is one of the many fatalities. Malnutrition, unclean water and lack of medical care have claimed their lives and will continue to, without help. Clean water and medical care, will dramatically decrease the number of deaths and suffering here!

I have so much more I could write about, but I know this is already a lengthy newsletter. I hope to send with this e-mail some pictures of Emmanuel and his mother, Emmanuel in the hospital, Joseph in the hospital ward, the bore hole being fixed, the well/bore hole working, the meeting with 3 rotarians at the proposed water site, meeting with governor of Rotary, and a few extras.

 

I began this newsletter stating that I did not have the relief I had hoped when I came back. The donations I could accpet due to not being incorporated with a non-progit organization was small and so I returned with what I thought was little relief. As the weeks have gone by since I stared writing this newsletter, miracles are happening. As Jesus blessed the small number of loaves and fishes and fed the multitude, Jesus has taken what little I have brought back and blessed it. Through the grace of GOD, the connections and efforts while I was in the U.S., have begun to bear fruit and have brought relief though all of you. A mother's prayer and the prayers of the community are being answered because of you! A young man and his mother's life, have been changed because of you and the beginning steps for clean water for some of the villagers are in process because of you. You are a reflection of what God can do, through selfless hearts of love and compassion. I smile and am grateful that with your love "all things are possible with God!"

 

Thank you for your prayers and for the prayers for my niece Catherine's mother-in-law, Denise. I am told she has had a 28% improvement. Please continue to hold her, myself and the people here in your prayers.

 

God Bless You all and may you feel the love and gratitude I have for each one of you and the prayers in my heart for you.



All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Thanksgiving Blessings

 

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessings,
    I am back from El Salvador and will be leaving for Nigeria in less than two weeks.  The mission trip to El Salvador was fulfilling.  The team I went with was
wonderful.  Each and every person had their own gift to give.  I felt like I was on a "first class" missionary trip as I had all the amenities and more. There was alot of prayer time and mass was offered everyday which was a gift to me. I visited with my children which was bitter sweet as I will be leaving them for a time. They are all doing well and the bond of love we have for each other will carry me through while I am gone.

    I am now getting ready to return to Nigeria.  I will be flying back with Father Paul, an unexpected surprise from God!  We have alot of catching up to do and the airtime will give us ample opportunity to share.  We talk frequently on the phone or via e-mail but it is not as good as in person.  I feel the same about all of you.  Oh how I would like time with each of you as you are so special to me. 
    One of the traditions at Thanksgiving we incorporated as a family when my children were growing up was that at the dinner table there would be cards decorated by my children that had written on them "this Thanksgiving I thank God for......  Each person who shared dinner with us would pick a name from a basket and fill in the card. It was I time to reflect on the gift of that person and to share with them your feelings before we ate.  Something that should be done
more frequently throughout the year. So to you my dear family and friends I would like to say "this Thanksgiving I thank God for all of you, for without your prayers, love and compassion for the people I live with in Nigeria, this mission would not be possible."  Alone I can do little, but through the grace of God and your donations and prayers, we can make a difference in the lives of the poor, which makes our lives richer.  My prayers for you this Thanksgiving is that your
hearts be full of love and joy.  I miss you all and hold you close to my heart and prayers. God Bless You and your families.


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

                                    Ozioma of Igboland

 

Blessings

 

September 29, 2007

 

Blessings my dear family and friends,

    I have not written to you in the last few months as my life has been on hold. I now have my visa approved for 1 year, no restrictions. Waiting, in trust, has
been difficult at times. I have learned that it is the waiting, that God will perfect His Will. I have made a DVD presentation that I show when I give my talks, with positive responses.

    I met the new Governor of Imo State, Nigeria two weeks ago in Houston, Texas. This is the state I live in, in Nigeria.  I expect to work with him when I return to
Nigeria in the next few months . My DVD has been passesed on, in person, to The First Lady of Nigeria. If you would like a copy of my DVD please send me your
address.
    I have been attending meetings at the Westwood Rotary Club. They are trying  to make contact with the rotary club in Nigeria to inquire about the possibility of
funding wells.  I spoke at an Igbo Church in Dorchester, Ma,  thanks to a IGBO man named Obiewke, many of the people were from the same villages I live
in.  It felt so good being with them, I felt like I was back in Nigeria.  The mass was in English and Igbo and the spirit of the people was uplifting.  
    I will be going to El Salvador with "Helping Hands Medical Mission"in Nov. My hopes are that this missionary team will get to know me and will help my
villages in Nigeria, as they said Nigeria is too dangerous.  I will share my experience with them being a white woman in Nigeria.   My 3 younger children are back in college and are adjusting well. . My oldest son, Gerry, is doing well
in the work field in St. Louis. I am traveling to visiting them before I go back.

    I think of you all often and pray for you in my daily prayers. 
I have so much to share with you. Thank you for your donations and support. Without your prayers and support I can do little. I pray for you in my morning mass. God Bless You and may you follow "The Spirit" daily.


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

                                    Ozioma of Igboland

 

Still in the U.S.

 

June 29, 2007   

 

Blessings everyone,

    I am still in the U.S. and have been working on trying to umbrella into a non-profit organization  that will accept donations specific for my villagers. To date, all have declined, as they do not offer support in my villages. Each organization has refered me to another, this is disheartening for me and confirms what I wrote in one of my newsletters; that to my knowledge, these people receive no aid from any relief organizations.  I trust this will change with God's intervention and guidance.
   I had researched the possibility of starting my own non-profit organizationand which, if approved, could take up to a year or more.  This option is not feesible, as time is of the essence... the people in my villages are SUFFERING IMMENSELY AND ARE DYING ON A DAILY BASIS!!

   Each time I feel a little disheartened, God surprises me with hope and reassurance that I do not walk this journey alone. Just the other morning I met a man from the IBO tribe named, Obiewkwe (which means "good news" in IBO, the same meaning as my name- Ozioma).  He has graciously offered to help me and will introduce me to someone who may have answers to my questions regarding visa options.  I am grateful for his enthusiasm and loving heart.  As a dear friend of mine once said to me, "God be slow, but He always be on time", for I had hoped to have had my visa by now and would be able to accept non-profit donations.  I trust this will come to be, in God's time.
   I thank you, FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART, for the donations I have received from you.  As I await for non-profit accessibility, your donations  will buy basic medical supplies- ie. blood pressure machines, bandages, medicine- ie. tylenol, advil, vitamins, antacids, eyedrops, anticeptic ointments etc.,  which I will bring back with me when I return to Nigeria. As  I walk among the villages, your supplies will bring some comfort to the people in need. I welcome any suggestions and your prayers and will keep you updated as things unfold. I hold you all in my heart and prayers,


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

                                    Ozioma of Igboland

 

More pictures!!!  With Love From Nigeria

 

April 18, 2007 

 

Dearest Family and friends,

 

   I hope you received my last e-mail which contained a few of the many pictures I have taken here. The woman suffering from metastatic breast cancer in the pictures, died the day after my visit with her.  I am comforted that she is at peace now and her suffering has ended. Please keep her husband and two children in your prayers.  Burials are ongoing here, I am told by the mortician next to the convent,  that presently there are about forty corpses awaiting burial in the mortuary.  

     There was much violence, death and stealing of the ballot boxes during the election for Governor and  House of Assembly, which took place this past Saturday, none of which I witnessed.  The election results for Govoner in some states (ImoState where I live being one) were disqualified due to massive irregularities and are rescheduled for April 28th.  The election for President will be Saturday, April 21st.  Please continue to pray for the elections.

      Also I stand to be corrected again regarding the traditional pharmacists.  They are not medically trained, as I stated in the first e-mail regarding medical care.  There are pharmacists that are medically trained, these are not the ones I referred to in my letter.

     I could write so much more about ---life in the villages, burials, weddings. the birth of a child I was blessed to be a part,  private and public schooling  (both of which a tuition is paid) , the marketplace, farming, worship etc.  So much to share with you, so difficult to put it all in a e-mail.  

     I will be in America, on May 6th, to apply for a missionary visa to return to Nigeria sometime around July of this year.  Any of you that have the time, I ask of you to contact the Oprah Winfrey Show, in Chicago, to request my appearance while I am back in America, regarding the suffering and great need of the people of Igboland.  You are welcome to send copies of my newsletters and pictures with your request.  In Luke Chp. 18, in the parable of persistence in prayer, the woman was persistent  in her plea to the judge, and pestered the judge until  her request was finally granted. May the Oprah Winfrey Show, if it is in accordance to God's will,  take an interest in the Igbo tribe, due to the outpouring of requests from all of you (a form of persistence). 

    The Oprah Show can contact one of my sisters:  I will have one of my sisters e-mail their phone numbers to you or I may be contacted personally by e-mail.

I would like to speak at any of your places of worship and/or in your community if you could make arrangements for me. 

    Some of the pressing needs I see are:

            -  Bore holes for clean water in some of the villages

            -  Health care offered in the heart of each village to the poor, especially the elderly and  children, as they make up the majority that are suffering and dying unnecessarily from untreated High Blood Pressure, Stroke, Diabetes, Hepatitis, Malaria, Typhoid, Tuberculosis.

             - Preventative Health Care Education

                   

These three attainable changes, can alleviate much of the undue suffering of these people, while still respecting their traditions and way of life. There is also a need for the children, who cannot afford to go to school, to receive an education. In my heart, I also hold Father Paul's prayer and desire, to open a motherless home, as there are so many orphaned children.

 

 "With God all things are possible".

 

We are all one in the family of God and as Jesus proclaimed,  "what we do to the least of our brothers, we due unto Him."

 

I invite you to slowly pray this prayer written so beautifully by St. Teresa of Avila.  Pray it two times, once for the mind and once for the heart!,

 

" Christ, has no body now but yours

No hands, no feet on earth but yours

Yours are the hands with which He blesses, the people of our world   

Yours are the feet with which He goes about doing good

Yours are the eyes through which He looks with compassion on our world

Christ has no body on earth but yours.

 

Bless our minds and bodies,

That we may be a blessing to others.

 Amen"

(slightly adapted)

 

Holding you in my heart and prayers, soon I will be able to thank you face to face for all your love and prayers!

God bless you,


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Pictures

 

April 13, 2007 

 

Dear family and friends,

 

   Thanks to Emeka, I am now able to send some pictures to you.  They somewhat depict the poverty and suffering I see here.   There are two pictures here of a young mother of two who is dying of metastatic breast cancer.  Her husband stopped working to care for her so there is no income.  She is suffering immensely, her chest is, as you see in the pictures, being eaten away from cancer and infection. Her left arm is edemetous beyond belief, ulcerated and gangrenous.  The odors of infection and decaying tissue emminate from her body. She cannot afford medical treatment and has been ill for 2 years.  She cannot get out of bed, is extremely weak, cannot eat due to pain.  If only you could see her eyes, you would be brought to tears, such a beautiful woman, so frail and emaciated.  No one should have to suffer, and die as she is. I will not explain the other pictures as they also speak for themselves.  I have to go for now, so this is a short but intense e-mail.  Pictures speak louder than words.  Thank you for your prayers, they are desperately needed.

With love,

All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter/Passover Blessings

 

April 7, 2007

 

My dearest family and friends,

 

    In my heart and prayers I am with you all the time.  As we celebrate Easter/Passover, may the peace, joy and love of Christ/G-D, be with you always, Amen! 

 

    Ezigbo Ezinaulo na ndi enyim, Na obim nile ma na ekpele m, mu na unu no mgbe nile.  Ka anyi na eme emume nke Esta/ na oriri ngabiga ka Udo, anuli na ihunanya nke Kristi/Ch-kwu, da kwasi ununile,  Aman!

 

    This is the IBO translation without the accent marks, so it could be interpeted differently as without an accent some words have different meanings, I also could have some mispelled words.  See how well you can pronounce the language.

    Also I misinformed you regarding the traditional pharmacists, they do have medical training. The isssue of concern is that they prescribe medication without examining the patients or confirming their diagnosis with labs. 

 


All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Upcoming Voting in Nigeria

 

March, 28 2007


 

Blessings everyone,

 

    This is just a quick e-mail to ask you to say this prayer (possibly you could ask your places of worship to have the community pray it)  This prayer is said at everyday in church.  I thought I would share it with all of you and give you a feeling of what happens during elections here.

PRAYER FOR UPRIGHT VOTING ACCURATE COUNTING AND IMPARTIAL

ANNOUNCEMENT OF ELECTION RESULTS IN NIGERIA

 

God our Father

All ruling powers lie within your hands

To you belong just judgemnts

Marcy and peace

But to us and the rulers of our land

Belong defilement and disgrace,

When you freed us from

Military rule

Our hearts were so full of joy

But alas, fighting with guns for rulership

And stealing votes with violence

Continue to plague us

Causing bloodshed and confusion in our land

Feeding the poor with misery and sadness.

Gracious Father

Forgive us, cleanse and cleanse us

Tryuely without you and left to ourselves

We are just helpless

We therefore fall on our knees seeking thy help

Mericiful Father

As we begin another round of voting

Remove from us the greed and terrorism

Which destroy upright guidelines

and laws that ought to regulate elections

Keep also far from us

The deadly robbery

That has been the bane of voting in Nigeria.

Put your own spirit,

The Spirit of truth and peace within us all-

The INEC organizers of the elections, the candidates

seeking for votes, the voters themselves, Those

who count and record the votes,

And the announcement of Election results.

Dear Father

Help us to see a new dawn in our land Negeria,

namely; upright vcoting, accurate counting,

Imparial and just announcement of Election results

Without any problems and without any confusion.

All this we ask through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen



All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Blessings from Igboland

 

March 23, 2007

 

Blessings from Igboland,

 

My dear friends and family, I sit here and ponder what to write to you. I have taken many pictures which will capture, somewhat, the reality of the immense poverty here, which I hope to e-mail to you when able. Nigeria is a developing nation in the lowest 25% of the world's economies. I cannot but feel their suffering and it is difficult for me to comprehend that in this day and age these people have little to nothing.

 

Clean water, something we in America don't even have to think about, is a major health care issue. There are only a small number of wells for clean water throughout these 12 villages that I have seen. One of the wells is at one of the sisters convent (this is the convent that has the cyber cafe and a small medical clinic) and is freely offered to the people at certain times of the day. Those that have access to the sisters well, may have to "treck" , what we may consider as a long distance to fetch the water, but for them it is part of their day to day living. Those that do not have access to the wells are found fetching water from polluted streams, which they also use to wash their clothes and bath in. This is heart wrenching for me to observe as I know the health care consequences they will face as a result of this polluted water.

 

As I mentioned in my last letter, the people are mostly farmers and are presently working very hard, long hours in their fields, cultivating their farms before the heavy rainy season which is expected in the next month or so. Children,  men and women carrying children on their backs,  are preparing the fields with only a hand held tool. Even the elderly are seen in the fields. Children are in the fields inbetween school times. These people do not have the convenience of a 40 hour work week as we do, for they can be seen working from dawn to dusk with the exception of the time they set aside for worship.

 

Private medical care is available in some of the major cities which is hours by car from these villages and costly, but are not up to the standards of industrialized economies . In some of the villages there are outpatient medical clinics available to those that can afford it,  they are substandard and are no more than a small clinic which offers basic treatment and only is equipped with a small lab and an examining room. Medical care is not available for the poor here, as it is costly . Many people opt to go to the traditional pharmacists due to the lower cost. These traditional pharmacists are not medically trained. They diagnose and prescribe medicine (antibiotics for 3 days seems to be one such treatment) without any lab tests to confirm their diagnosis, which in turn may not benefit the person at all and may turn a treatable illness into a life-threatening illness. People are dying and suffering do to lack of appropriate medical attention and medicine.

 

I see four body types that make up the majority of these people:

    Women, men and young adults of a lean muscular body type, not as a result of an exercise program that we are accustomed to associate this

body type to, but from hard labor.

    Emaciated bodies, so thin that they appear to be no more than skeletons, with skin hanging loosely from their bones.

    Children with distended abdomens and bowed legs, due to malnutrition and umbilical hernias.

    Pregnant women, many with small children carried on their backs, working up to the moment when their labor begins.

 

Up until about one week ago, I had not spent as much time as I wanted interacting with the people in the villages, as Mother Paraclecta has expressed her concern for me as a white woman and has advised me not to go out on my own. Her concern is not of the village people, for they are loving and receptive of my presence and mission, it is the "bandits" who steal from the poor along with the rich that she cautions me, along with the dangers around the upcoming election, as you could conclude from the prayer of the people I e-mailed to you regarding the upcoming election, In an answer to my prayers, my path lead me to Mr. Greg Omeni, who is the principal of the Imo Co-Operative College, next to where I am living. Greg has offered to help me in my mission here and has willingly offered some of his time, expertise and influence to help me and I am grateful for him. Through Greg I met with The Royal Highness, EZE Boniface, who reigns over the twelve surrounding villages. He was very open to my desire to help his people. EZE Boniface will head a meeting with the-12 chiefs under his reign to inform them of my presence here (as I have only gone into the villages closest to where I live) and to have the chiefs arrange provisions of a local guide from each of their villages to accompany me and bring me into each of the village so as I can interact with the people and assess the needs of that particular village. EZE Boniface's commitment and loyalty to his people is apparent to me and I feel assured that his call as EZE is rooted in his love and faith in God and his people. He is a very humble man whom is respected and loved by his people and is an answer to my prayers. I have redirected my focus to the poor in the villages and how best I can help them through the grace and guidance of God. After spending time in the villages I will write you as to my experience and of the needs of the people I hope to start going into the villages with the local guides within the next three weeks, sometime after Easter .

.

My path has also crossed with Mr. Felix Nwaodu, who is a volunteer for the LACA- Local Action Committee on HIV/AIDS. The epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria claims many lives. It is estimated that 1,4000 Nigerians are infected each day. Educating the people who are ignorant to this disease, testing for HIV/AIDS, counseling and treatment for those affected with the disease is offered free to the people of this area, through this organization. I have gone around with the team of LACA to some of the schools, in their effort's to educate the children and teachers on HIV/AIDS. The children appear to be receptive to what I say, probably due to me being an "onyeocha."

 

Ignorance, due to lack of knowledge results in unnecessary suffering and DEATH here. Ignorance not only of HIV/AIDS, but also ignorance of basic knowledge in preventative health care living. Something as simple as Basic Education is a huge, yet simple way. to begin to decrease some of the suffering and death here.

 

 

Mother Paraclecta and the sisters I live, with have have continued to extend themselves to me in an effort to make me comfortable, they have opened their hearts and home to me. They feed me, give me shelter and care for me. I am sure that it is because of them and the spirit of the people that my transition here has been so easy.

 

There is so much more I wish to write to you, but it has already been a few weeks since I started this letter and I hope to send it off to you before Easter. Thank-you for your e-mails and for your love, support and prayers for me and the IBO villagers. Know that you are all in my heart and prayers. Thank- you also for your prayers for the upcoming election. April 14th will be the election for the 36 governors one for each of the 36 states (IBO STATE  where I live,being one) of Nigeria and April 21st will be the election for the new President of Nigeria. I

 

Easter Blessings of joy, peace and love,

 



All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

Love and Prayers from Nigeria

 

March 1, 2007

 

Hello my dear friends and family,

 

       I think of you often.  I am having difficulty transferring my letter and pictures on my laptop to the computers here.  So I will just type it all over and send the pictures at another time.  This is the 4th time I have attempted to send you all this e-mail.  It keeps deleting before I send it.  I was 8 hours on the computer yesterday  and now am trying again.. 

 

     I finally arrived at last to Lagos Airport in Africa, on Sunday 2/18 around 7:30 a.m., 1:30 E.S.T.  The plane trip went smoothly.  We then took a small plane to Nigeria.  We were greeted by Father Paul's sister and his friend Father Martin.  We drove through rough dirt roads about 2 hours to IMO State.The tribes I am around are deep into the area away from major towns. The land is made up of forests of which about 80% (by my observation) are palm trees, filled in with avacado, banana, coconut, mango,orange trees etc.and tall vegatation. The dirt roads are pretty rough and are used for "trecking" (walking short  distances, walking (walking long distances), motorcycles, cars and bikes.  I think it will be awhile before I attempt to drive in the towns as it is quite a scene and very congested with people and vehicles.  I would say it is more challenging to drive here than in N.Y.  I will attempt soon to learn to drive a motorcycle or bike so as to get to the villages that are too far to walk.  Along the roads "trecking" are men, woman (many pregnant or carrying a child on their back)  and children of all ages; many of whom are carrying on their heads, shoulders or in the arms fruits/vegatables, water jugs, baskets, branches etc.  They walk long distances daily.

     I was soon to experience firsthand the hospitality and love Father Paul said would emenate from his people, he in no way exaggerated this truth to me..As we drove through the villages, I was continuosly acknowledged by waving hands, smiling faces, exclamations of - "NWANYI OCHA" (white woman) "WELCOME" and children running towards the jeep.  I was told that the village people knew I had come as a missionary and were happy I had arrived.  I am easy to spot as I am the ONLY WHITE PRSON in all the surrounding villages.

     The first stop we made was to St. Mary's Church in Umuiti.  Sunday mass had just ended.  As I got out of the car and was waiting for direction of where to go next, I looked towards and open window in the church.  There peering out of the window were women of all ages singing and waving to me.  I entered he church and was immediately surrounded by women and children, hundreds of them,greting me with words of welcome, hugging me,kissing me and dancing me around to be greeted by all.  I have never experienced this kind of love from such a multitude of people whom had just met me.  The spirit of love among these simple people was overwhelming and touched me profoundly, tears of joy flowed from my eyes and I was drawn into their love.

     The village I am living in is Umunakanu.  This village and the surrounding villages are in IMO STATE (about 2 hours by car).  IMO STATE is made up of about 27 local government areas.  Each village has a chief who is similar to our mayors.  The area I am living in is called Ehime/MBANO.  I am temporarily staying at  one of  the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy Convents.  God has a sense of humor as the mortuary for the village is on the grounds of the convent.  And for those of you who do not know, my father and brothers are morticians.  It made me laugh.

      I was greeted warmly by Sister Mariam Angela, Sister Ebere, and Sister Mary Oninyechukwu and Teresa, a young woman who cooks for the sisters.  (Teresa has a good name!).  The sisters would remind you of the sisters from the Sound of Music, even their convent would remind you of that movie, as there are iron bars and gates covering the windows and doors.  (This is to protect from bandits).  I was tired and after dinner, which consisted of rice, beans and bread, I was brought to my room.  Sister Ebere filled two pails of water for me to wash up with.  I had a restful sleep and slept later than I had planned, missing morning mass.

     Breakfast consisted of  fried yams (similar to french fries),  bread and tea.  After breakfast we were driven about 15 minutes away to the next town, Umuezeala/Owerri, where another one of these sisters convents are. This convent is newly built and opened this past December.  In the last month a cyber cafe (internet cafe) and clinic has opened. Here I was introduced to Sister Paraclecta Egwuonwu, the Superior Matron of the order.  She has graciously opened up her convent for me to stay in and has welcomed me with much hospitality.

     Both of these convents have a well and a generator.  The generator is turned on for a few hours at night so I am able to charge my laptop and read by a light, after which I can read by candlelight.  The food is prepared outside, in a kettle, over a fire and where the water is boiled so it is suitable for drinking. I am tolerating the food.   It is bland, alot of starchy foods and fish are consumed.  I don't ask too many questions of what I am eating, especilly after seeing the meat and some of the food prepared at the  open market.  I try no to think of what I may be eating.  So far only MoiMoi (made from corn) and garri which is made up of cassava (similar to yam) grinded and fried. It is served with a soup   Both of these are challenging for me to eat.  There is something in them that I do not care for, so I swallow it down with water or eat it with a bite of banana or carrot to hide the taste.   This is what I used to do when I ate liver as a child.   My room has a bed and a toilet, and for that I am grateful.  I have a small sink that I use to wash my face and brush my teeth (with bottled water).  I bathe and wash my clothes using a bucket of cold water, the cool water is welcoming as it is so hot here.  

      The convent has a school on the property in which the secondary grade school children, ages around 13-16 board (about 280 female students)and the primary come daily (about 250 children, male and female).  The boarding school children spend much time in prayer and attend daily mass.  They have chores assigned to them around the convent and have scheduled study time.  They have a full day.  I taught English last week to two of the classes.  I will be teaching at the school weekly.  I was supposed to be teaching now, but the time went away from me as I typed.  I will see how Sister Ebere reacts to me missing the classes- Oh Oh!

      I am well and very happy, the adjustment was very easy for me.  I have a feeling of contentment and peace here, it feels natural to be here.  I do miss my children and family

back East, but I feel in someway the void of my children and family over the years, has given me the ability to be away physically now, for I carried them within my heart and prayers over the years and now, I carry them here with me, in Nigeria.  And of course, my dear friends, I miss you too.  You hold a special place in my heart and prayers as you carried me through the heart wrenching and lonely years of which I believe I could not have endured without you and God walking with me.  You are my angels!!!

     The weather is as expected, very hot!!!!!  I have never sweated so much, but it is bearable.  I am told it is the dry season and the rainy season will be coming shortly, which will bring the mosquitoes.  I had the honor of meeting Father Paul's mother and looking at his family pictures.  Father Paul is a gift from God to me.  I attended the first Sunday mass with him which he celebrated.  It brought me great happiness to see the love he has for his people and the love his peole have for him. Please keep him in your prayers, as he lives in the U.S. and I'm sure he is lonely for his homeland!

      These past two weeks my days have consisted of awakening at 5a.m., attending prayer with the sisters and then attending morning mass either in the chapel at the convent, St. Therese's Church  or St Christopher's Church.  We "treck" in silence to St. Therese's at dusk to the morning sounds of nature awakening. It is very peaceful and calming.  We are driven to St. Christophers Church in their station wagon which is also used as an ambulance.  The church is in darkness except for 3 small candles on the alter table.  It is a feeling of stillness and sacredness.The reverence and joy celebrated by the congregation is uplifting.  The singing is beautiful and their voices echo throughout the church. Their deep faith in God is evident to me, not only by the multitude that attend mass, walking many miles through unpaved roads, but also in the way they worship and bear their hardships  In all things, their suffering and their joy, they bring praise and glory to God.  Their faith is the center of their life. Morning mass usually lasts approxiametely 1hour and Sunday mas  approxiametly 3 hours.  The time goes very quickly during mass, I don't want it to end. 

     After mass we return to the convent and then begin our day in the communtiy.  I have gone into the surrounding villages, getting familiar with the lifestyle and greeting the people.  They are farmers amd can be seen out in the land under the scourching heat, preparing amd gathering their crops. This includes men, women and children of all ages.The suffering is beyond words.  They "treck" many miles carying their resources gathered to bring to market.   Water is either collected from the  polluted streams or from the sisters well.  There is no electricity in the villages except for the wealthy.  It is common to see starving children with distended abdomens as I walk around.

     I have visited one of the motherless homes owned and run by the sisters in Ahaiaeke/Umauahaia.  These children are here either due to the death of their mother (as the father is unable to care for them), are found on the roads homeless, or are babies out of wedlock.  They will stay in the home until they reach a certain age, in which then either the father may come and bring them home or they are addopted by a family. I could see these babies and young children are being cared for with much love and devotion.  Caring for suffering children are one of the vows these sisters have taken.    

        I have spent much time at the convent where Sister Paraclecta resides getting familiar with how the cyber cafe and clinic is run, so as to fill in as needed.  Emeka, the instructor for the internet, has been a immense help to me.  He has been trying to make my laptop compatible with the computers in the cafe, so that I will bea able to send my e-mails with the pictures I take, straight from my laptop.  So far we have not been able to make it work, but Emeka assures me he will be able to do it.  God has opened up many doors for me, blessings me with conviences I did not anticipate.  The cafe is one, as it is a short driving distance from where I live, verses 1 hour to the cafe in the town.. I will be able to send e-mails frequently.

       I have spent time at the clinic observing the nurse Mrs. Augusta Onuoha and learning the treatment protocol.  The nurse sees the patients and is able to  prescribe treatment and medication. There is a lab on the premises, so blood and urine tests can be read in a timely manner . It is a challenge to get people to come to the clinic, as they have little means to pay for treatment. 

     When I arrive in the morning to the convent mentioned above, there is usually women and children gathered, in front of the convent, waiting to fill their water jugs.  I spend time playing with the children.  We have become good friends.  I give and receive many hugs and kisses. They teach me Igbo and I teach them songs and clapping games. They laugh all the time at my poor pronunciation of their language.  It is a difficult language to pronounce, but I am learning  "obere obere", small small (a little at a time)! Of course it doesn't help that I did poorly in language when in school.

     One morning I was awoken by what I thought sounded like gunfire.  When I asked the sisters what the sound was they confirmed that it was gunfire from the mortuary announcing a burial procession was to begin.  I have attened two burials here.  The burials (funerals) are quite different from America.  It is cause for  celebration.  The grieving family provides entertainment, with music, bands, food, days of celebration (depending on the area) in appreciation for the communites condolences.  The body, when it leaves the mortuary, is bought to the family's home for a brief while and then to the church for mass. The mass is about 1 hour then from the church the body is brought back to the home of the family, where the body is burried.  Friends and community members come to offer their condolences at the church and/or the home of the family.  Gifts of consulation from the community are given to the family. 

     Sister Paraclecta surprised me the other day with some Nigerian material and sent me with Anthonia (who works at the convent) to a seamstress in the open market, to have some traditional Nigerian wear made for me. The traditional wear for women is either long skirts or long dresses and a headcovering, wrapped in many styles.  I was happy to wear my outfit to church with Father Paul on Sunday.  Father Paul introduced me to the congregation and called me to the front of the church to say a few words.  While I was speaking my headwrap kept falling to the side, which made the congregation laugh.  I guess I never knew how much I move my head when I speak.  The Nigerian women hold their heads erect and still probably due to balancing and carrying items on their heads as they "treck" along the roads

     I anticipate I will divide my week with days spent in the village, interacting with the people, doing education, assessing their medical needs and spending time with the village children: working in the motherless home, the clinic, the cyber cafe, in the school teaching English and whereever else there is a need.  As you can understand there is so much need in every aspect of their life, so my days will be easily filled.

     Famine, extreme poerty, contaminated water, hostile climate and life-threatening diseases are the "crosses" these village people bear on a daily basis. Suffering, undeserved and unnecessary, could be lessoned with good health care, medicine, clean water and education.  When I began my journey to Nigeria, I met a women from the Ugbo tribe at the airport in Maryland.   She described her people as the "forgotten"  and the suffering.  This I am witness to and it is heartwrenching!

     I have so much more I could write to you, but I will close here for now.  Thank you for all your love, support and prayers for myself and the people of Igboland..  Your prayers carry me daily. You are in my prayers always.

 

         As I walk and live among these "forgotten" and oppressed people of Igboland

There is severe poverty and grave suffering

There is scant resources and contaminated water

There is immense hunger/malnutrition and deadly diseases

There is a high birth rate and a high mortality rate

There is the the cry of the poor

And yet

There is something beyond what the human eye and ear can percieve walking with these people

It is a "felt-sense"

It is their joy

It is their will to live and persevere, despite all odds

It is their celebration of life

It is their celebration of death

It is their "richness" of faith

It is their "spirit"

              "The Spirit of God"  

I am humbled

I am brought to my knees

For truely I am on "Holy Ground"

                              AMEN

 

 

My mailing address is

 Teresa Thomas Kostuk-Ozioma

 St. Vincent De Paul Hospital

 EHIME MBANO L.G.A.

 IMO STATE
 NIGERIA                  

 

Arrived in Nigeria

 


 

Monday, February 19, 2007

 

Blessings everyone I love!

 

    I wrote a letter from my laptop last night and was going to e-mail it to you today from the Cyber Cafe where there is internet, but I forgot the cable wire to hook my laptop up to their computer, so this will be a short greeting  letting you know I arrived safe and sound, a little tired, grateful I finally arrived!!!  Thank-you all for your love and prayers, none of this would have come about if it wasn't for your love, prayers and support of me and my mission. 

I will send you a more detailed letter the next time I come to the cafe in town.

Peace my dear friends and family, in my heart you are held,



All my love-which is a portion of God's love,

Ozioma of Igboland

 

 

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