Living to Fulfill Her Dreams: The Story of Chinaecherem

Living to Fulfill Her Dreams: The Story of Chinaecherem

Chinaecherem Nwodo {Photo credit: MSH.}Photo credit: MSH.

Stigmatized, isolated, and conditioned to undertake hard labor, 14 year-old Chinaecherem Nwodo shows that one can overcome the most dire circumstances. Chinaecherem was despised and accused of witchcraft in her community, the Onu-Orie-Obuno-Akpugo village in Nkano West Local Government, Enugu State, Nigeria. Her abusive treatment by community members reflected the challenges facing some children in rural areas of Nigeria.

The community blamed her for her mother’s death and father’s insanity. She was barely two years old when her mother died, and she was abandoned to the care of her sixty-three year-old maternal grandmother. As a teenager, she was traumatized and suffered intense malnourishment. To this day she looks like a 6 year-old girl, though her health has improved.

Chinaecherem does intensive labor crushing palm kernels in a mill; she makes, on average, 76 cents a day. As she struggled to make ends meet, Chinaecherem’s hopes for a better life were rekindled, when Spring of Life Support Group (SLSG) visited her community in June 2011. SLSG is a civil society organization, supported by the Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and implemented by Management Sciences for Health in collaboration with Africare.

Concerned about Chinaecherem’s plight, mill-owner Mr. Torphe informed SLSG about her situation. She was enrolled by CUBS the same month and issued a birth certificate. She was also placed under the supervision of a community volunteer, Mrs. Loveth Ogbuanu, and counseled for trauma. Chinaecherem underwent a series of tests at the Comprehensive Health Centre in Nnkano West. Her test-results revealed she was HIV-positive. She has since been placed on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) and Plumpy Nut, a therapeutic food for severely malnourished children.

Chinaecherem was enrolled in school for the first time in September 2011. “My dream is to become a teacher,” the 14-year old girl told SLSG. Determined to realize her dream, she used her savings from the mill to buy textbooks, supplemented with a school bag, school uniform, and shoes from CUBS.

Today with good care, Plumpy Nut, and CUBS-facilitated treatment from the State Teaching Hospital at Ituku-Ozalla, Chinaecherem looks healthy and attends school regularly. Her volunteer, Ogbuanu, describes her as dutiful and dedicated. “Every morning she informs us when she’s going to school and is always the first to be in school. She keeps her records very well and is always the first to remind me to replenish her drugs at the health centre.”

Although she still works in the mill after school hours, her grandmother now works on a farm to support the family. Community members have also come to realize Chinaecherem was not possessed and joke now that true to the literal interpretation of her name, God thinks about me, “her God was thinking about her all the time.”

Safiya Madhi is program officer for the Community Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria (CUBS) project.

Community Based Support for OVC in Nigeria (CUBS) project is a US government, PEPFAR-funded intervention implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in 11 Nigerian States, in partnership with Africare.


Severin Suh
This is so sad.I think the way forward is education at the grass roots.Her neighbors were not wicked but ignorant. Her resilience will definitely see her through.
Sylvia Vriesendorp
Heart-wrenching and beautifully written...well done Safiya. May there be some lessons for the people around her who abandoned this girl so cruelly.
Ijeoma Okoroma
A very touching story indeed. I just wish that all children with experiences like Chinecherem's own finds rescue like she did in all our local communities.
Tijjani Suleiman M.
Chinaecherem's story, a heart touching story. I just hope many will learn from this and work harder to create impact in our local community. Well-done Safiya.
Ken Heise
You've written a very strong and sensitive story about Chinaecherem, conveying both the magnitude of the difficulties and the promise for the future. Very nicely done, Safiya, and thanks so much for sharing this with us. I look forward to learning about many more successes by CUBS (and you!) in the future.
Humberto Aranguren
At present, in Panamá we also read about sad stories, like the Chinaecherem one. Thanks God, Panamanian government authorities recently, had began to improve strengths, similarly as CUBS implemented by MSH, is doing in Nigeria. It will be of such interest for us to read further cases on this problem line, in order to use this knowledge by our Social Workers and Trainers, dedicated to reduce this social flagelo.
J. Johnson
The story about this little in Nigeria brought tears to my eye. I do not understand how and why innocent little soul should be subjected to this kind of treatment. I applaud USAID and MSH for doing such a great job in helping these little souls get their life back.
Albert K Bwinga
A very touching story. It is educative one in the sense that with Community Based Support Project it was revealed that she was Hiv positive while being acused that she was responsible for the death of her mother. It is sad to start acusing a two year old girl without proof. I hope the community where this girl comes from has learnt a lesson. Very sad inddeed to sitgamitise and truamatise such a girl. Thanks to the Project implemented by MSH and Africare with support from USAID we could have lost her life.

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