Travails of a widow at 60

Fifty-eight-year-old Mrs Chineyere Agatha Onyebuchi, who has been bearing the burden of caring for her six children since she was widowed at 40, is now beset by the fear of also losing her son. This prospect starkly stares her in the face if help fails to reach her son promptly from kind-hearted Nigerians.

The problem that stole sleep from her and also took away her peace of mind began the day her son, Chimaobi, woke up one morning in December 2015 and complained of having a fever.

The adolescent, who read Electrical and Electronics Engineering at The Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri, Imo State and graduated with a National Diploma, was taken to a hospital, where he was treated.

Continuing the tale, his widowed mother said: “Not quite long, he complained of stomach problem and I took him to another hospital, where we did a scan. The doctor said that he had appendicitis, and he was operated upon in January this year. After the surgery, the wound healed very well, but the stomach problem started again long after the surgery.

“I complained to the doctor and he referred us to Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, where Chimaobi was admitted. That was when his legs and hands started to swell, followed by the swelling of his stomach. He remained on admission but we were not getting any good result. Even after we went to another hospital, his situation was not improving. I went to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital, SDA, Aba, from where we were referred to the Federal Medical Center, Umuahia, where we have been going to take treatment. It was at FMC that we were told that Chimaobi has kidney failure. Since then we have been on it, and relying on the goodwill of people to feed because we have exhausted all our family savings.”

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The story of Mrs. Onyebuchi, who hails from Arondizuogu, Imo State, is a long tale of pain and trauma. At the relatively tender age of 20, she got married in 1978 but lost her husband after 20 years of marriage. Following the death of her husband, the burden of caring for the children fell on her shoulders, and she has been struggling to provide and care for her children with the meagre income of a civil servant.

Her desire had been that after graduating, Chimaobi would work for a while to save money and also help train one or two of the younger ones before proceeding to study for the Higher National Diploma at the Federal Polytechnic.

Recalling this, she made a passionate appeal: “I don’t want to lose my son, I am calling on the good people of Nigeria and the world as a whole to come to our assistance. At a time when he has grown up to wipe away my tears after all my sufferings, Satan wants to take him away from me. People should please help. I know that there are still good people in this world; I believe that they would hear the cry of a poor widow like me. I don’t want to lose my son. If he is alive he can still be useful to the country.”

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Onyebuchi said Chimaobi has been undergoing regular dialysis, adding that doctors have asked her to prepare for kidney transplant, an extremely costly process. The question: How can a poor widow provide the sum of N8 million needed to pay for the transplant?

“I know that there would be somebody somewhere who will be touched by my plight, and come to my rescue. I know that whatever you do to save the life of my son, God will replenish it,” Onyebuchi said.

On his part, Chimaobi could only mutter: “I have suffered too much under this condition. I am pleading to people to come to my aid and help me to survive.”

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