The family of Christopher Okafor Onanwa in Umuoba Akabor village, Mbaukwu, Awka South Local Government Area, Anambra State have been in sorrow for the past forty years.Four out of the seven children born in the family have been blind from their childhood.
To make matters worse, the mother of the blind children, Mercy Okafor, is now paralysed, following complications that arose after she had an injection.
Several years ago when Mercy got married to her heartthrob, Christopher, hopes were high on how they would live happily thereafter and raise kids that would in turn take care of them in their old age.
The arrival of the first child, Henry, a boy brought enormous joy to the family but trouble began soon after the birth of the second child, Chidiebere, a girl, who had what seemed then like a slight sight challenge and family attributed it to measles which was rampant at the time.
Somebody advised that she should be taken to the eye hospital in Kano. Frantically, the family ran to that place for solution. But after all efforts, she went totally blind. It was the same story for the 3rd born, Uchenna and two others Nkechinyere and Kaodilichukwu.
“Greater part of my motherhood has been spent on taking care of the blind children,” their mother laments.
As Mrs. Okafor told Sunday Sun, prior to the problem that afflicted her children, no member of their family was born blind or had ever gone blind. This fact left her wondering what could have caused the problem for her children. She is now a widow having lost her husband in 2001.
Her voice quivering as she struggled to stop herself from crying. She said:
“I had seven children, namely, Henry, Chidiebere, Uchenna, Ekenedilichukwu, Nkechi, Ifeanyi and Kaodilichukwu. While Henry, Ekene and Ifeanyi are free, the other four are completely blind and we have suffered terribly for the past 40 years.
“While I was healthy, I was the one running from pillar to post seeking for help on how to train and take care of the children. But I started having my own health challenge after some years until I was finally demobilised in 2012. Since then, I’ve been permanently confined to the wheelchair and the bed where I eat, pass urine and go to toilet.
“I was given an injection in a hospital which I suspect had either expired or had serious reactions on my system leading to paralysis of my two legs. I was at Amaku General Hospital, Awka for two weeks before my transfer to Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, where I stayed for seven months, without recovering the use of my legs. I suffered from bed sore with serious wounds and the hospital fixed a urine bag and catheter on my system which I’ve carried since then. We tried all we could for the blind children.”
In the quest to rehabilitate the children, Mercy said the children were taken to Oji River, Enugu State, through the assistance of public-spirited individuals, where they were taught how to read and write. The family struggled to see two of them pass out from secondary school while the other two dropped out.
“The last one, Kaodilichukwu was in school when I broke down in sickness and that has been where we are since then. My daughter, Ekene is the only eye in the family now. She is the one who takes care of the five of us at home while her own future has been mortgaged because of our condition,” she further lamented.
The only sighted lady in the family, Ekene Okafor in a brief chat with Sunday Sun corroborated her mom’s earlier assertion that the problem of her brother and three sisters has put her in complete servitude.
“Taking care of four blind people and a bedridden mother is not easy. I used to be a petty trader but when my mother broke down, I had to close the shop. The first son of my family was involved in a ghastly road accident that nearly crippled him and in the process of treatment he lost all his fortune too. Sometimes I ask God questions but I know that our Redeemer lives,” she said.
Adding their voice on the need for public spirited individuals and corporate bodies to assist the family in their predicament, the immediate past President General of Mbaukwu Town Union, Chief Omife. I. Omife and Chairman, Old Akabor Village Union, Sir Nwankwo Samuel told Sunday Sun that the problem of the Okafor family has been a long standing one that some grown up youths today in the village met the situation when they were born.
They noted that the family members are good people who don’t indulge in anything evil and never had issues with their neighbours or the community. They also disclosed that as community leaders, they have tried at their own level to assist the family by scouting for helpers on their behalf but the efforts can never be enough.
Those touched by the plight of the family and are moved to lend a helping hand can reach the family through Ekene Okafor on 07032150785 and or make monetary donation through the account of Jacintha Okafor (UBA account number 2077200008).