We Can Help Save This Little Girl!
By Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”– Matthew 5:7
Even the hardest of hearts would be melted by the moving story of Miss Chioma Aribe, the 19-year-old Engineering student of the of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) currently waging a gallant battle against a life-threatening liver aliment as reported on page A10 of Saturday Independent of November 8, 2008. Since May when she took ill while at school and had to be taken to hospital where doctors discovered her liver had been unduly enlarged, a condition referred to in medical terms as Cirrhosis, Chioma has neither been herself again nor able to return to school to actualize her cherished dream of becoming one of the nation’s seasoned engineers.
Instead, she has been guest to several hospitals in spirited efforts by her distraught parents to seek a solution to the terrible affliction that had suddenly arisen to threaten the life and future of their once vivacious and lovely daughter. According to the Saturday Independent report, “Chioma [is now] a pathetic sight to behold … she has shrunk dangerously and her skin colour and texture have undergone dramatic change. Her voice and appetite have also been affected by the sickness, she could hardly speak audibly and seldom eats.” Poor girl! She has been on admission at several hospitals including, the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Federal Medical Centre, Ebutte Meta, Lagos, and Reddington Multi-specialist Hospital, Victoria Islands, Lagos. Preliminary medical examinations indicated she contracted the illness through food-poisoning; some harmful chemical substance contained in what she had eaten had attacked her liver and caused its deterioration. The ailment has already gulped millions of naira, stretching the family’s resources beyond its malleable limits (and possibly plunging them into debts), even when solution to the problem is yet to be found. So, because of the complicated nature of her case, which has since defied efforts by medical experts in the country to successfully contain, her doctors have arranged for her to be urgently flown to a specialist hospital in India where it is believed her matter would receive the adequate medical attention required for her to live her normal life again and return to her studies which have already suffered seriously since these past few months the ailment held her down.
Those who have had anything to do with Reddington Hospital would better appreciate the financial implication of being on admission there for a couple of weeks. Little wonder then, Chioma’s family had to take her home for a week before returning to Reddington again to enable her undergo a scheduled liver biopsy, which eventually was not even carried out as planned because her blood had failed to coagulate. Chioma’s parents are now being forced by this very excruciating situation to go public with their predicament to request the assistance of kind-hearted Nigerians to raise the about N10 million, reportedly, required to finance her medical trip abroad. According to the report, a “Chioma Aribe Health Account” (No: 0205115000014656) has been opened with Intercontinental Bank Plc to enable kind-hearted Nigerians interested in helping this little girl get well and live her normal life again make their donations. And she is confident that Nigerians, known for their eagerness to compassionately respond to distress calls like these would not let her down.
I am so moved by this little girl’s predicament, have personally gone to see her, been in regular phone contact with the family since then, and can confirm that Chioma’s case is a most pathetic and serious one requiring urgent attention. It is situations like these that often make me regret not having enough resources to intervene in some matters as my heart always yearns to. Why should such a little girl who had done nothing to attract this kind of affliction be left to just wither away? No doubt, what is happening to her today can happen to anybody tomorrow, but it is by extending some helping hand to people passing through painful afflictions like these that we sometimes ward off the ones that would have come our way. This is the truth. Imagine the picture of one watching one’s beloved daughter or son in such a very distressful situation and lacking the resources to do anything to arrest the situation! What a scary thought.
I am persuaded that there are kind-hearted Nigerians and non-Nigerians out there who would be moved by Chioma’s anguished cry for help to come to her rescue. Right now, the most consuming desire of her heart is to be alive and well to resume her studies. This nation needs determined girls like Chioma to live and contribute their own quota to ensure the realisation of our country’s lofty dreams and aspirations.
We usually have cause to celebrate the sterling examples of several distinguished Nigerian women like Dr. (Mrs.) Cecila Ibru, Prof Dora Akunyili, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and many others. Who knows what this girl will grow up to become tomorrow if we all rise to help her live?
My heartfelt appeal goes to philanthropic organisations, corporate bodies, professional bodies, women groups and distinguished Nigerians and friends of Nigeria to help save the life of this girl. I understand that she was born in Lagos where the family resides, but her father hails from Imo State, while her mother is from Ohafia in Abia State. I have no doubt that given her heart-melting, passionate appeal for help last Saturday, Govs Tunde Fashola and Ikedi Ohakim and Theodore Orji would also be moved to do something significant to save the life of this girl.
And unless any donors object, I have made up my mind to duly acknowledge in this column all those good men and women who would respond to this girl’s distress call, and hold up their action of being their neighbour’s keeper as worthy of emulation. As I sign off now, my heart is inevitably drawn to Portia’s moving definition of the quality of mercy in William Shakespeare’s Merchant Of Venice:
The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.
Still On Chioma Aribe Health Fund
There have been enquiries from people, especially, Nigerians residing abroad, who have been touched by the story of Chioma Aribe, the 19 year old Engineering student waging a gallant battle against complicated liver ailment, and whose urgent need to raise N10 million to enable her proceed to India for proper treatment has compelled the family to solicit financial assistance for help from kind-hearted members of the public. Those enquiries have centred mainly on how Chioma could be reached with their kind donations. The family is happy and grateful for the responses by those eager to help to save their daughter’s life. According to them, her bankers are of the opinion that the Western Union facility would be the easiest way to send donations to her now from abroad. Those who are more comfortable with using trusted contacts in Nigeria can still to pay into the “Chioma Aribe Health Account” (No: 0205115000014656) with Intercontinental Bank.
Information about donations through Western Union can be sent to her with: ChiomaHealthFund@gmail.com ; ChiomaAribeHealthFund@live.co.uk
Also the family could be called with this number: (234) 0703-514-9761.
Please, indicate if you would not mind a public acknowledge of your kind help. Those whose contacts may wish to physically present donations may be humbly requested, for obvious security reasons, to do so at a very formal setting, preferably at the headquarters of the newspaper that published Chioma’s pathetic story.
If a better way of remitting fund to the Chioma Health Account is arranged by the bank, it will be communicated.
Corporate organizations (in Nigeria) wishing to make their donations in a more formalized setting (there is nothing wrong or immodest about this) can indicate the day they are wishing to make the presentation, so that venue and media coverage can be arranged.
If a better way
Indeed, we can help save this little girl’s life