Andreas and Chidiebere Idika are presently basking within the euphoria of a brand new lease of life. They’re about to get synthetic limbs procured by members of a Fb group.
In contrast to many who discovered love and care amongst relations, they met theirs on YorochiTv, a Fb group connecting youths from totally different backgrounds throughout Nigeria and past.
For the natives of Ohafia Native Authorities Space in Abia State, rising up was crammed with tough patches. Their mum, Mary, had been shouldering the maintenance by means of thick and skinny since 2004 when she separated from her husband.
She retailed foodstuffs to ship them to high school and supply for his or her day by day wants. Years on, Mary’s wrestle had manifested considerably within the siblings’ lives.
With Andreas already in 300-level on the College of Calabar, Cross River State, final yr and his elder brother about to start a Larger Nationwide Diploma in Constructing Expertise, Mary was upbeat she would quickly reap the fruits of her labour.
Whereas lockdowns occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and Tutorial Workers Union of Universities’ strike lasted for months, Andreas was at dwelling aiding his mum in garri (a staple meals) manufacturing.
On Might 30, 2020, destiny, not the pandemic, dashed their hopes. Earlier that day, Mary had invited 22-year-old Andreas, who resides together with his elder brother in one other location, to hitch her in grinding cassava to course of garri.
He went to play soccer after finishing the duty and referred to as Chidiebere, who rides a bike, to choose him up within the night.
On their method dwelling round 10pm, they have been concerned in a hit-and-run crash that left their left legs badly crushed.
“A motorbike carrying an extended heavy object rammed into us and it crushed our legs,” Andreas, a closing yr Theatre Arts scholar, recalled, painfully. “I wished to assist my brother solely to understand that my leg was damaged. His situation was worse. It was round 12am after we received some folks to take us to a hospital.”
Two days later, they have been referred to an orthopaedic hospital in Umuahia, Abia State capital the place their legs have been amputated.
“My amputation was initially beneath the knee however after every week, the spot received worse they usually needed to reduce it above the knee,” he defined, his voice trembling. “Our mum struggled to pay our hospital invoice. It was about N2.5m. She borrowed and received assist from well-meaning Nigerians. We have been discharged in September.” He added that their father who separated from their mom in 2004 despatched N6,000 out of the invoice.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the hit-and-run rider and the passenger he carried have been later tracked down by vigilantes and handed over to the police however have been finally launched and now stroll freely on the streets.
United by destiny
That day, Chidiebere’s associates had suggested him towards selecting up his brother because it was already late. However mutual love certain by a typical destiny wouldn’t let him heed the warning.
“We’ve all the time been collectively so there was no method I might have slept that evening with out him,” Chidiebere, 32, stated.
On their method dwelling on a bike, Chidiebere heard the sound of an oncoming bike whose headlamp was off. He was attempting to barter his method when the heavy object on the bike fell on him and Andreas.
He added, “We heard a loud bang like a bomb explosion. It was a horrible incident however in all, I give God the glory. The thing hit my left leg and left hand. I initially thought it was a minor damage. It was once I tried to run after the people on the bike that I found I had misplaced my leg.
“At that second, my mum referred to as to know if we have been dwelling as she usually did anytime we left her home. We initially didn’t choose up the calls. She referred to as as much as 3 times earlier than I picked up. I promised to name her after we received dwelling however she was disturbed and stored asking about our whereabouts. I finally referred to as her after we received to the hospital and informed her we had a minor accident.”
Chidiebere stated they have been discussing enterprise plans that evening when the accident occurred, including that he had deliberate to open a constructing materials outlet.
Life after crash
The siblings’ future hung within the stability within the aftermath of the crash. Their burning ambitions have been falling aside on the seams. Andreas misplaced out within the race to change into a famed skilled dancer whereas his brother’s HND programme was placed on maintain.
“I used to be a part of an African dance crew referred to as Ardour 4 however I don’t have an opportunity in that group anymore,” he lamented. “Apart from being a theatre artist, I additionally do images. In my division, I can not interact in appearing whereas I participated in virtually each manufacturing up until my 200 degree.”
The one play he featured in since he had the accident was a kind forged – a storyline that match into his bodily look.
“More often than not, they didn’t need to stress me,” he stated. “I’ve been main a routine lifetime of going to high school and returning dwelling with out partaking in sensible facets of the course.”
“It has not been straightforward since we had the accident,” Chidiebere stated, noting that their mum needed to work more durable to cater for them.
He added, “We all the time look as much as her for feeding after we are presupposed to be serving to her. She now goes to the farm and does arduous duties we must always have helped her to hold out. It has been very arduous however we thank God for all times. As quickly as I get a prosthesis, I’ll discover one thing to do a minimum of to assist my mum.”
I watched as folks choose my kids’s bones
At 47, Mary Idika seems fairly older than her age. Darkish spots are quick eroding her light-complexioned pores and skin; stress deeply etched on her wrinkled face. Her gold necklace and well-trimmed afro betrayed troublesome moments the mom of two has endured.
In a measured tone, she narrated how the tragic Might 30 incident dealt the household an enormous blow and threw her right into a critical monetary disaster.
She recalled, “Andreas got here that day to assist me with garri processing. Within the night, he referred to as his brother to choose him up they usually left. After some time, I referred to as them to know if they’d received dwelling. I referred to as them about 3 times however they didn’t choose up the calls.
“I prayed to God to guard them wherever they have been that day. Chidiebere later picked up my name and informed me to not fear. He stated I ought to go and sleep however I insisted I wished to know what occurred. He stated they’d a minor accident alongside Uguaba and that they have been in a close-by hospital.”
Mary stated on her technique to the hospital, she met a crowd selecting bones on the bottom and crying.
She acknowledged, “I stated, ‘God don’t enable these folks (the victims) to die’ not realizing that they have been my kids. I’ve spent the whole lot I had on their therapy and even borrowed.
“My store has shut down as a result of monetary difficulties. I’ve been the one particular person struggling to fend for them. Their father and his household are conscious of their plight however they don’t seem to be aiding in any method.”
When our correspondent requested the cellphone contact of her estranged husband or any relations, Mary and her kids declined, saying calling them “is of no use.”
On-line household involves the rescue
In the course of the lockdown in 2020, Andreas joined the Fb group – YorochiTv – earlier than the accident to attach with folks and leverage the platform for alternatives. Fortunately, the digital group is now lifting him and his brother from the abyss of hopelessness. They are going to quickly stroll with out crutches. With about N2m raised from the group to get them prostheses billed for completion in a couple of days, the siblings are regaining morale and able to have a second shot at life.
“After my publish on the group on my birthday on August 12, I began getting plenty of reactions,” Andreas acknowledged, flashing a wry smile. “I additionally attended the group’s get-together in Uyo (Akwa Ibom State) in August and met its founder. Since that assembly, my life has witnessed a constructive change. Now, I intend to enter content material creation and leisure.”
Andreas had within the publish expressed how the group, restored his confidence and wished to get a synthetic leg for improved mobility to allow him pursue his dream.
“Our membership covers folks between 18 and early 30s,” the founding father of the group, David Iyenyorochi, stated. “Apart from connecting on-line, we maintain in-person programmes to strengthen the connection. We go from metropolis to metropolis to satisfy.”
Andreas’ bubbly mien on the Uyo gathering attracted him. He was awe-struck to know the younger man travelled from Cross River the place he colleges to attend the hangout.
“I requested our coordinator in Akwa Ibom to get details about him,” Iyenyorochi added. “Two days after I returned to my base in Lagos was his birthday. He posted it on the group and made a want to get a prosthetic leg. I reposted it and gave him a name. I used to be so emotional after he informed me his full story. I began making calls to hunt funds for him. I assured him he would get the prosthesis.”
It was gathered that inside 24 hours of the publish, the group members had donated N1.1m to get Andreas a synthetic leg and a few have been even making an attraction “to finish the enjoyment of the household” by additionally getting prosthesis for Chidiebere.
“That gave me a push to ask folks once more to contribute for his brother’s prosthesis. Inside the subsequent 48 hours, we received N2m,” the founder enthused. “We’ve already paid for the unreal legs they usually have gone for casting to get the proper match. The prostheses must be prepared on Wednesday.”
He added, “They are going to do physiotherapy for one more week. We’ve additionally visited their mum. We’ve a lot of folks supporting him. We are able to leverage that to get them one thing that may maintain them. The physician stated they might do some bodily actions after getting the prostheses. So we’re what they will do finest.”
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