Odion Anavhe
Posted January 29, 2016 from Nigeria

I have heard people refer to Nigeria as the giant of Africa, for a long time I didn’t think it was true because of the many problems she had suffered. As I grew older my perception changed, Nigeria isn’t the giant of Africa because of her land mass but because of the hearts of her people. I haven’t seen a people who have gone through so much corruption, poverty, abuse and are still strong, happy and can smile. As a young girl and the 2nd child of 7 children, my dream was to become a medical doctor because I felt it was the only way I could affect lives. Well, I guess this dream was inspired by my frequency at the hospital as the hospital was the only route to church. Going through the four walls of ABU teaching hospital Kaduna I’d always stop to notice families or relatives who had their loved ones admitted look up to doctors for hope and it only gave strength to my dreams. Many years down the line, my pain gave birth to my dream as I would lost my sister due to pregnancy and childbirth complication and begin to advocate for maternal health rights for women in Nigeria. You see, pregnancy and childbirth is supposed to be a memorable experience for all women but for many women in Nigeria, it has become a death trap. According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria remains 1 of the 10 most dangerous countries for any woman to give birth in with about 800 women dying daily as a result of pregnancy and child birth complications and countless other women left permanently disabled. I am particularly drawn to stories of women who aren’t told or under reported for example rural women who give birth in their homes and whose deaths aren’t recorded or reported. I started a project called Maisha save a mother’s life. Maisha means life in Swahili. Mother’s bring life and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are protected. Saving mother’s lives is protecting women’s rights and it is the fair and just thing to do. Maisha save a mother’s life creates awareness to rural women on safe motherhood and is working on an advocacy plan to relevant stakeholders for health system strengthening through social documentary photography. I am currently partnering with several NGOs and the FCT primary health care board to carry out my project. Most of my supports have been from family and friends and the hope I see in the eyes of these women I work for. The thought that another child will grow up with the love of its mother is what have pushed me through the hard times of giving up. I’d really love to build on my advocacy skills through the media. Of course, I hear fundraising is a skill it’s one I’d certainly need to develop to fund my projects. I’m not a medical doctor but I’m impacting lives more than I ever dreamed I would. It’s the love, trust and support from family and friends and yes, you reading this post that keep me going. It’s still a wonder how God turns pain into purpose, how He fits every situation in our lives into His perfect will. Have big dreams, trust God, dreams do come true. I’m a testimony.

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