A BETRAYAL?

Beatrice met Anselm during her hunt for employment at a prominent hospital in a high brow area of the state. Anselm worked as a pharmacist in the hospital and Beatrice had attended an interview for the position of Laboratory Scientist in the hospital’s Laboratory and although she did not secure the position, she met the the man of her dreams – Anselm. She secured what she considered as the best thing to ever happen to her. They started dating and within six months, wedding bells were ringing. They were inseparable. They got married in a quiet , private wedding at St. Barnabas church with Anselm’s sister – Ine, and Beatrice’s aged mother as witnesses.

It was a marriage made in heaven and any seeming  disagreements were handled in an atmosphere of tranquility and concord. The couple were soon blessed with two children – Dapo (male) and Chioma (female). Anselm was every bit the “Perfect” husband, attentive, caring, responsible and very calm. He now had a pharmacy owned and run by him while Beatrice worked in a food and beverage manufacturing company. The children were doing well in school and life was good, that is until…disaster struck.

One evening, Anselm came back from the Pharmacy complaining of numbness in his limbs and unsteadiness on his feet. In addition, he felt nauseous and fatigue with a recurrent headache. Beatrice immediately rushed him to their family hospital and after a series of tests were run, Anselm was diagnosed with malignant brain tumour. In spite of the best medical care, Beatrice underwent the harrowing experience of watching her husband slip away to the cold hands of death. The bottom fell out of their hopes of recovery.

Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. Two days later, while still grieving her beloved husband, a woman breezed into the house with a set of twin girls, about four years older than Dapo. She introduced herself as Uju, flaunting a marriage certificate and birth certificates before Beatrice. She claimed to be Anselm’s bona fide wife and that the twins were his children.  Uju  in a haughty tone stated calmly “As the lawful wife of Anselm Chideobi, I am here to bury my husband and take my rightful place in the scheme of things. If you need copies of these certificates to enable you verify my claim, I will leave them with you.” A petrified Beatrice collected the copies and amid tears soliloquizes aloud “ Could Anselm have been so cruel? Could he have made our marriage vows knowing he was not qualified to take them? Could the Anselm I know, have kept this dark secret away from me?”She immediately summoned courage and called Ine her sister-in-law hoping to hear that the words she had just heard were a figment of her imagination. After three short rings, Ine picked the call and confirmed her worst fears, indeed Uju’s marriage preceded hers and the marriage was never annulled, but she thought Anselm had opened up to her about it. He had recently briefed a lawyer to commence divorce proceedings, before he fell terminally ill.

At the funeral, both Uju and Beatrice featured as Anselm’s wives and thereafter, Pastor Blessing paid Beatrice a visit. She asked about the welfare of Beatrice and her two children and inquired about the position  with the Pharmacy and a few other assets that Anselm had. Beatrice broke down in tears stating that she did not have a clue as to how to proceed or what the next steps should be and Pastor Blessing admonished that she join a Widows group such as the Naomi sisters where she would have access to the following areas of counsel and succour:

  • Legal and Probate Services
  • Religious activities
  • Social interactions and Interface
  • Empowerment programs etc.

Love

Havilah

N.B. Naomi Sisters is a Widows Ministry operating from Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. Kindly send a mail to Havilahspeaks@gmail .com for enquiries.

ADOPTION – AN OPTION?

Binta had just gained admission to the University and her brother Abdul, organised a picnic in her honour. Binta invited her friend from school, sixteen year old Ama, a pretty, quiet and naive orphan who lived with her maternal aunt. At the picnic, Ama met Kofi, a second year student of the university who expressed keen interest in her. One thing led to another and Kofi forced her into having sexual intercourse with him. She was ashamed and embarrassed at what happened and told no-one about what happened. About three months after the incident,  Ama exhibited some symptoms which she assumed was malaria, but her malaise continued in spite of completing the treatment for malaria. Her widowed aunt/ guardian Aunty Efua , took her to the hospital where she was confirmed three months pregnant. Aunty Efua could not conceal her shock and disappointment. ”Not Ama, how could it have happened”? After quizzing her niece thoroughly and berating her for her actions, she invited Binta and her brother for interrogation. During the interrogation, Abdul  informed Aunty Efua that Kofi was actually an acquaintance of a friend and not well known to him. He had visited from Ghana and since returned there. Thereafter, Aunty Efua sat Ama down to an instructive lecture on the choices available to her, highlighting the pros and cons to enable them arrive at the best decision in the circumstances.

Aunty Efua started by reprimanding her for going against the grain of her religious upbringing which advocates abstinence from  sexual activities. She however explained that there are a number of options available to Ama in her present predicament and offered to discuss the pros and cons to enable them make an informed decision. She went on to explain the available options  as follow:

  1. Early marriage – The question on this is – how prepared are you to marry this young man Kofi? Can you locate him and even if you do, will he be interested in getting married to you? Even if he is, you are both very young and do not have the maturity to handle the challenges marriage offers. So, much as this is an option, it is fraught with its own challenges such as finding the father and convincing him to be responsible, taking care of the baby while you both face your academics, providing for yourselves and the baby in the interim etc.For this to work, it requires the full co-operation of the parents/guardians. How does Kofi’s family see it? Would they rather “adopt” the child as theirs to raise or request that you raise the child but receive some form of child support from them. Whichever solution or combination of solutions is agreed, it is advisable you have access to your child, to provide maternal support. We will need to see Kofi’s parents to settle on this”.
  • Single parenting – If Kofi is totally averse to your having the baby and /or being responsible towards it, you may need to steel yourself up to be a single mother pending when you are blessed with a partner who will be both a husband to you and a father to your child. I however warn that it can have enormous though surmountable challenges. The emotional and financial toll of raising the child will be yours although, I will assist as much as I can”.
  • Adoption – We can register you with an adoption agency after weaning the baby and thereafter, you can return to school. Once they find interested parents that meet our preferred criteria, they will contact us to bring the baby over. I must however warn that once the child is given over to the adopting parents, all your motherly rights over the child cease and you must make a mental effort to forgo the child”.

After giving the options much thought, Ama settles for adoption especially as she barely knew the father. She sets her mind on having the baby and weaning it while preparing for her JAMB examination.

             .

Meanwhile, Yele and Bolaji Badmus had been married for eight years and had remained childless despite several attempts since marriage. The first five years were filled with the misery of miscarriages and the next three with failed attempts at In Vitro Fertilization. Totally frustrated, they sought the advice of a marriage counsellor who analyzed the options available to them. In the absence of biological children, the counsellor proffered two options:

  1. Surrogacy. This could be:
  2. Traditional in which case Bolaji’s sperm would be inserted into a surrogate mother who would bear the child. This however makes the surrogate mother the biological mother of the child and Bolaji, the Biological father. This can result in relational issues and controversies later in life as the Biological mother may create problems in spite of the agreements and documents signed or
  3. Gestational, where Yele’s egg and Bolaji’s sperm would be combined and inserted into the surrogate mother which merely  makes the surrogate mother the vehicle for bearing the child. Yele would then remain the biological mother.

.

  • Adoption. This is  a legal process where a person takes on the parenting of a child from its biological parent and the child becomes his/hers legally.This terminates the parental rights of the birth parent and transfers all rights regarding the child, to the adopting parents. To facilitate this it is better to engage the services of an adoption lawyer as the relevant laws differ from place to place. Identifying an adoptee may be done through an adoption agency or an orphanage. It involves a lot of paperwork and usually, the adopter (prospective parents) do not interact with the adoptee’s parents.

Ama eventually registered with an adoption agency and gave birth to a healthy, bouncing baby boy. When her son was eight month’s old, the Agency reached out to inform her that suitable parents had been found for her son. Though reluctant to part with her son, she saw it as the most viable option for his care and upbringing. Mr.and Mrs. Bolaji Badmus, gained a son and were glad to shower him with parental love. A win/win situation, or was it?

Love

Havilah

ITS EASTER

That time of the church season when Christians the world over celebrate the all encompassing ubiquitous Love of God. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is significant  of the magnitude of God’s love for mankind. While  ruminating over the immeasurable love of God captured in John 3:16 which reads “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life”,  it occurred to me that a mother’s love, though significant, pales in comparison to God’s love for us.

The below lyrics  of a popular song resonate with today’s theme. It refers to a mother’s love. So here is to you!

NO CHARGE – Harlan Howard

My sister’s little boy came in the kitchen one evening
While she was fixing supper
And he handed her a piece of paper he had been writing on
And after wiping her hands on an apron
She took it in her hands and read it
And this is what it said:

”For mowing the yard five dollars
And for making up my own bed this week one dollar
For going to the store fifty cents
And playing with little brother while you went shopping twenty five cents
Taking out the trash one dollar
And for getting a good report card five dollars
And for raking the yard two dollars
Total owed one fourteen seventy five”.

Well she looked at him standing there expecting
And a thousand memories flashed through her mind
So she picked up a pen and turned the paper over and this is what she wrote:

”For the nine months I carried you holding you inside me – no charge
For the nights I sat up with you doctored you and prayed for you – no charge
For the time and tears and the costs through the years –
There is no charge
When you add it all up the full cost of my love is – no charge

For the nights filled with dread
And the worries ahead – no charge
For advice and the knowledge
And the cost of your college – no charge
For the toys, food and clothes and for wiping your nose
There’s NO CHARGE, son
When you add it all up
The full cost of my love, is – no charge”.

Well, when he finished reading
He had great big old tears in his eyes
And he looked up at me and he said
“Mama, I sure do love you.”
Then he took the pen
And in great big letters
He wrote: “PAID IN FULL”.

JESUS CHRIST PAID THE  PRICE FOR OUR SIN IN FULL BY HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS…When you add it all up, the full cost of God’s love is NO CHARGE!

Happy Easter y’all.

Love

Havilah 

TWO SIDES OF A COIN

Nanwor and Jevbe sat in Jevbe’s sitting room discussing over a sumptuous meal of banga and starch prepared by none other than Jevbe’s mother – in- law. Mrs. Esamah had been visiting Jevbe and her son Uamai, to take care of her latest grandson and would be leaving back to her home in a fortnight. She had just left her daughter- in- law Jevbe  and her friend Nanwor, to retire into her room for some much deserved rest.

“Lucky you Jevbe, I wish all mothers-in-law were like yours. The harmony and conviviality is so obvious!” Nanwor exclaims and Jevbe quickly interjects, “You haven’t seen anything yet. Mama is a rare gem. She bathes and dresses the baby, changes diapers, uses hot compress on my stomach region, prepares meals and even washes the baby’s clothing. I couldn’t have it better. She is also a very appreciative woman”.

Nanwor chuckles and says “Do you remember how Sade used to insist that she would never marry a man whose mother was still alive and how we would always correct her by reminding her that she would one day be in the position of a mother-in-law”. She then launches into a tirade “Aah…little did I know that I would end up with a mother-in-law who makes my life miserable with her tyrannical behaviour. Miskom’s mom looks for every opportunity to ridicule me in private and in public. Nothing I do for her is ever right. Even when I buy things for her from the goodness of my heart, she finds a way to show it is not appreciated. My culinary exploits are rebuffed and I hear things like…”Is that my food or for your dogs? You are  so useless you cannot even conceive”… as if I am God who gives children.”

Jevbe hugs Nanwor and utters words of consolation, both of them totally oblivious that mama Esamah has walked in on them and is observing them closely.

Mama clears her throat and takes a seat. She explains “I am sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing part of your conversation when I came in to fetch the baby’s shawl for laundry. As a Deaconess of my church and counsellor in the Marriage Department, I feel tempted to offer some advice if you wouldn’t mind”. ”My dear, man is a social being that is shaped and influenced by various factors and incidences including environment and experience. Have you tried to find out things that may have shaped your mother-in-law like background, education, beliefs, her experiences in marriage, biases etc. With this knowledge, you may be better equipped to understand and tolerate her. It may also help you identify how you may unwittingly have trod on her toes. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make excuses for her or justify her behaviour which is indeed hurtful.”

Mama continues with her advice “You may also need to flash your mind back to her reactions to you when you were dating your husband. Usually, there would have been red flags which you either glossed over or ignored. If she was fine with you then, something must have caused the change and a self examination may help you identify the reason for the change. If however, you still cannot place a finger on the reason, discuss your concerns with your husband – Miskom, who may be able to elicit the reason from her.

Nanwor speaks up amid sobs…”I’ve asked Miskom and he says he doesn’t understand why she treats me the way she does. He is however very supportive of me and tries to shield me from Mama’s abuse, which further infuriates her”. Nanwor continues “Unfortunately, I lost my mother the year I got married so I really miss a mother figure”.

Mama Esamah, draws a deep breath and pats Nanwor on the back. “Nanwor dear, one solution that never fails is taking everything to God in prayer. His word teaches that we should ask and we shall receive. Ask him to deal with the situation, to take control of your mother-in-law’s heart and fill it with love. Ask that she will begin to see you in a new light and that God should bless your marriage with his fruits. There is no impossibility with God and he will grant our requests according to his word.

At the same time, show mama love and respect in spite of her actions towards you. The Lord will surely touch her, sooner or later. Patience is the watchword. Please remember that God will never test you beyond that which you can bear. He always makes a way, sooner or later.” Mama then ended with a prayer for Nanwor and Miskom requesting God’s mercy and blessings on their entire family and their relationships.

If you were Nanwor’s sister, what would you advise her to do? Please leave your comments on the blog or e-mail me at havilahspeaks @gmail.com

Love

Havilah

LOVING SPECIAL CHILDREN EPISODE THREE(3)

It was February 2017 and Asmau had to leave seven year old Maimuna with Kakar Maimuna (Grandma Maimuna) in Katsina, to pursue her educational career in Kano. Three months later, Maimuna contracted measles from her school and in spite of all assurances that she would recover without any complications, she lost her sight. Thus began the travail of both Maimuna and Asmau. In addition to the trauma caused by the condition, they both had to deal with stigmatisation. As a result. Asmau blamed herself and constantly wondered…”If only I had remembered to inoculate her against measles at nine months as instructed by the Health Centre where she was delivered”. Asmau had travelled with Maimuna around then and forgot about the instruction. “If only I hadn’t left her back home,… could kakar have been a little negligent as a result of a lack of understanding, could this illness have ended differently?” So many unanswered questions. Five years later,  Asmau took Maimuna to a school for the visually impaired, where she can have access to a good education  with the help of Braille instruction.  

She arrived at the school which is a Boarding facility and has a sister school for children with auditory impairment (also referred to as hearing impairment) all housed in the same compound. As she traced her way to the principal’s office she came across a young girl of Maimuna’s age and stature whose mother referred to as Tilewa. Tilewa was deaf and at Asmau’s prodding Tilewa’s mum, Bunmi, explains the circumstances of her impairment. Bunmi had a mild fever and slight flu like symptoms when she was about two months pregnant with Tilewa, but dismissed it as a mild flu since she felt better within three days or so. Little did she know that she had Rubella (German measles) which though a mild illness, was dangerous for the unborn baby.She was born deaf. Bunmi therefore could not forgive herself for her seeming carelessness which she felt was responsible for Tilewa’s plight.  Both mothers immediately felt like kindred spirits and bonded nicely. Asmau also gave Bunmi the background to Maimuna’s situation and they exchanged phone numbers promising to keep in touch.

Three weeks later, Asmau receives a call from Bunmi who invites her to  a Webinar titled ”LIVING WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITY – A PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE”. The facilitators are:Professor Ekaete Udofia – A Professor of special Education and Dr. Bode Hassan, a Therapist on parenting. Important nuggets from the webinar, are summarised below:

  1. CAUSES OF PHYSICAL DISABILITY/IMPAIRMENT IN CHILDREN: Children who have physical impairment are described as children whose mobility, stamina, physical functioning or dexterity are impaired. This can be hereditary, congenital or acquired. Congenital impairment is where the condition develops in the foetus prior to birth or where it occurs at birth while Hereditary impairment is where it is genetically transferred from either parent during development of the foetus. Acquired Impairment on the other hand occurs at any point after birth.

There are various types of physical impairment in children but the most common are mobility impairment, visual impairment, hearing loss, chronic fatigue or pain and seizures (epilepsy).

2. EDUCATIONAL NEEDS: It is important to note that children with purely physical impairment are capable of achieving their preferred careers upon attainment of the right education. Where the impairment is both physical and intellectual the severity of the brain damage will determine what is achievable. However, in order to achieve the desired educational standard, the child must best attend a Government approved school for children with special needs. There the teachers are trained to handle such children by using the relevant teaching methods and aids e.g Braille for the visually impaired, sign language and lip reading for the deaf and dumb etc. To enable them succeed, some technical  aid is also required such as canes to assist the blind with mobility, Braille machines for transcribing their notes, Braille typewriters for their assignments, hearing aids and speech to text applications for the hearing impaired (deaf and dumb), and crutches and wheel chairs for those with mobility impairment.

3. PARENTAL GUIDANCE:

  • Parents must first and foremost rid themselves of the feeling of guilt that arises when they become aware of their child’s impairment regardless of the cause, whether hereditary, congenital or acquired. It is quite natural to hold yourself responsible for your child’s impairment but you must Learn to accept what cannot be changed.
  • Help your child to live his life to the fullest by helping them dream and guiding them towards achieving the dream. They can reach the highest echelon of any profession or career that does not require the use of the impaired organ.
  • Find the right school for their specific need.
  • Obtain the relevant technical aids required to assist them in the learning process e.g. Braille machine for the blind, speech to text equipment for the deaf and wheelchair for the mobility impaired.
  • Encourage them to indulge in outdoor and sporting activities were feasible. Do not be overprotective and let them explore their environment within safe limits.
  • Spend quality time with them and build up their confidence in themselves. Let them know they can accomplish their dreams.
  • Do not neglect their spiritual growth. Teach them to pray and take them to worship with you.
  • Remember, they are no different from normal children and help them live as near normal a life as is feasible with their impairment.
  • Be sensitive to their frustrations and periodically encourage them as it is “ normal” for occasional outbursts as a result of frustrations.
  • Lastly, make sure you look after your own mental health and wellbeing, taking deserved breaks.

It is noteworthy that ALL children are GIFTS from God and need to be nurtured with Love to enable them reach their full potential and children with special needs, whether gifted, intellectually impaired, or physically impaired, are no different. It is the duty of parents to enable them fulfil their God-given purpose and full potential, regardless of the challenges involved. The Bible says “God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13.

Love

Havilah

LOVING SPECIAL CHILDREN – EPISODE (2)

Hi all, today we will be taking the second in the series of three on the above topic, we will consider – Children with Intellectual Impairments. These are defined as children who are unable to learn or develop skills at the same rate as their peers because of problems related to the brain. They usually display lateness in attaining developmental milestones and severity can range from mild to profound. It affects their ability to learn, take decisions, solve problems and their interactions with people. Intellectual impairments cover cases of Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral palsy etc. Let’s take the case of Brian.

Ruby and Jim looked forward with excitement reminiscent of young couples, to the birth of their second baby, a brother for Sue who was now two years old. Brian was born a lovely dimpled baby boy, a pleasure to behold. Brian was such a content happy baby with no signs whatsoever of any impairment or disability. To all intents and purposes he walked and even started mouthing simple words until …disaster struck. One day, Ruby returned from work to find a silent and withdrawn Brian. Attempts to cuddle and  hug him to elicit a response were rebuffed and his behavior got stranger with each passing day. Brian now lived in a cocoon of silence, oblivious of all external stimuli. The silence would only be interrupted by fits of rage characterised by head banging and biting. The concerned parents visited the paediatrician who queried Autism Spectrum Disorder (more often referred to as Autism) and referred them to an experienced Developmental Paediatrician – Dr. Kessington. After a thorough analysis involving a careful observation of Brian and his behavioral pattern a diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) was confirmed and treatment commenced.

To ensure that Brian lives a purposeful and fulfilled life, Ruby and Jim attended counselling sessions arranged by Dr. Kessington where they were taught the following ”coping skills” to enable them lovingly nurture Brian into adulthood and enable him live in fulfillment. They were advised as follows:

  1. “Do not alienate Brian from his biological family and sibling. This is important for his emotional well being and development. A show of love and understanding is required to help him deal with his inner frustrations which are revealed through his tantrums.
  2. Enrol him in a school that offers special education for impaired children. A few of them exist in the country and it is hoped that the different tiers of Government will see a need to establish and fund such schools as time progresses.
  3. Get him involved in community/ leisure activities and hobbies so that he learns to relate with other members of society. Brian may exhibit talent in sports, music, the arts etc. Celebrate his achievements, however little they may seem.
  4. Educate family and friends regarding his challenge to foster a better understanding and acceptance of his person.
  5. Do not discriminate between Sue and Brian but show both love and ensure that there is mutual love between them.
  6. Teach Sue to love her younger brother and make her understand that he is different.
  7. Take time to take care of your health and well being and interact with other parents in similar circumstances. Shared experiences are helpful.
  8. Monitor and track Brian’s progress at school by talking with the school authorities.
  9. Most importantly show him love, understanding and support through it all.
  10. Take time out for breaks.”

Ruby and Jim followed the advice received and over the years were able to discover Brian’s passion for football and art. They channeled his energies and encouraged him at these two activities. Today, Brian at sixteen currently has paintings featured in some art exhibitions and plays football with a local team. There is always ABILITY in DISABILITY. Look for the gold!

Some Information about Autism:

ASD has no single known cause and the symptoms vary from mild to severe. The symptoms usually play out in communication and behavioral inadequacies and include some of the below listed: Failure to respond to name call, preference for lone play, poor eye contact and lack of facial expression, delayed speech or no speech, Abnormal voice tone or rhythm, limited repetitive patterns of behavior, repetitive movements e.g. spinning, rocking etc, activities of self harm e.g head banging, biting etc, problem with co-ordination, fixations on objects or activities, walking on toes among others.

Male children are more likely to have autism than females with a ratio of 4:1.

Where a child has obvious delays in language skills and social interactions, it is advised that you contact a paediatrician. Treatment options exist. Although children usually do not outgrow ASD symptoms, they can learn to function well given the right PARENTAL LOVE and GUIDANCE.

Let’s catch up again next week as we consider children with physical impairment.

Love

Havilah