Letters from Teresa/Ozioma

Letters from Teresa/Ozioma

Ozioma Hope for Wellness USA Corporation

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


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