Juliana Francis

Locating the building where Ms. Okwara Happiness Lucy lives in the Okotun area of Lagos State was certainly not a walk in the park.

But the media team finally arrived and knocked on the door. It was opened by a smiling face Happiness, who expertly wheeled her chair to and from the door, depicting years of practice.

Friends and family members call her Happiness, and the name seemed to have defined her personality.

Despite her disability, Happiness was always beaming with a smile. But then, there is no art to know the mind’s construction from the face, for she has been living in a world filled with, despair and resignation.

But today, her smile was mixed with a radiance of hope as she told our reporters that finally, after years without hope, hope and divine intervention have finally located her.

She said that the latest information about her condition is that surgery, which will cost about N8 million will be the needed miracle for her to walk again.

The 42-year-old woman, who sells biscuits at the front of the building where she lives with relatives, said she did not have such an amount of money and her family had sold land and other property just to ensure she lives following her accident some years ago. Today, the family’s coffer is empty, she said, and the guilt that she was the cause of the family’s penury continued to eat at her.

Happiness was not born physically challenged; She was born whole with two legs, with a heart full of dreams and she once had stars sparkling in her eyes.

She dreamt of completing her university degree and getting a job to help Mom and Dad, she dreamt of romance, love, and children, but all those dreams became stillbirth following a terrible accident in 2004 while she was heading to campus.

Happiness, however, believes that with the help of empathic and Good Samaritan Nigerians, it was not too late to recapture those dreams.

Happiness life changed irrevocably in 2004 while travelling to Asaba in Delta State.  She boarded an 18-seater bus and on getting to Asaba Toll Gate, the bus was involved in an accident.

The last thing she remembered was the bus somersaulting several times and everyone, including herself screaming and calling on their God and gods.

She recalled: “ I was later told that I was retrieved from a pit, having been flung out of the bus. Police and rescue teams rushed us to St Joseph in Asaba, from there to other hospitals in Onitsha. When my family came down to Asaba, I was taken to another hospital, and from there they referred us to an orthopedic hospital in Enugu.”

While fighting to live, her thoughts flashed to her fellow passengers who did not make it. It was a sobering reflection for her.

She was at the orthopedic hospital in Enugu for months until she was discharged, and she had to return to Imo State.

Fighting not to break down in tears, Happiness recollected: “I got admission to study Banking and Finance at the Alvan Ikoku Federal College of Education, but I couldn’t go back to school because I lost the admission due to the accident.

“I was moved from one hospital to another until 2007. I went back to St. Rita’s Hospital in Imo State, and I was there for close to four years before I was discharged.

“I started staying at the village and then I was moved down to Lagos State and since then, I have been staying with my elder sister before she got married.

“I had earlier lived with my younger brother. I attend a church at Egbeda, where the church members assisted in taking me to an orthopedic hospital in Lagos.

“Before I went to the Lagos orthopedic hospital, I had gone to other hospitals, subjected to many X-rays. But as usual, they couldn’t find anything. One of the doctors said that since I had done several x-rays I should go for an MRI scan.”

She narrated: “They discovered something, but I don’t know what the doctor called it. But one of the doctors at the orthopedic hospital explained that it was something surgery would be able to correct. He said that a small piece of bone shifted from my spinal cord. He gave me a letter to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), saying that it was not a surgery they could do.

“I went to LUTH, but it was difficult to see a doctor; in fact, I didn’t get to see any doctor to attend to me and that was in 2018 and then we stopped going because of transportation fare. I traveled for my cousin’s wedding and there I met another of my cousin, a nurse, who now works with a big hospital.

“She told me that at the hospital she works, the doctors had treated and operated on people with worst conditions and that they got well.

“She said that the hospital specialised in the treatment of issues relating to spinal cords and the brain. This was in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I told her to forget about the issue because I had lost interest and hope in walking again and I was tired of X-rays.

“I told her that I had gone for several X-rays and an MRI scan, and she said she would call my sister in Lagos to send over the last scan result. When she got to her workplace, she told her doctor about me, who asked that I should come over so he could examine me.

“He also said I should come with the last MRI result. So I went with the result, he looked at it and announced that it was something that surgery could correct. I was ecstatic.”

Happiness’s joy knew no bound, to be given such a ray of hope. If she could dance, she would have waltzed as she finally realised that there was a slim chance that she would be able to walk again.

She said: “I was very excited that after so many years there was hope that I could stand, I could use my legs again. The doctor assured me that it was possible. He showed me pictures of people that the hospital had operated on.

“The doctor said they must admit me before they could start the surgery. My cousin called her dad and he came to the hospital, they negotiated the price and everything for the surgery ended up being N8 million excluding the hospital fee. He assured me that I would stand on my feet again.”

Happiness said it was because of this firm belief and faith in the surgery that made her decide to go public to solicit funds, even though she stated that it was a tough decision.

According to her, sometimes desperation, needs, and desire outweigh shame and pride.

“I’m going public because I want to walk again, I want to feel my feet again,” she cried.

Asked about her family’s financial situation in the face of the need for this surgery, she responded: “My family can’t afford it because I’m from a very poor family. Even when this accident happened, my father had to sell his lands. Right now, there’s nothing left anymore to sell, which is the reason I’m seeking help from members of the public.

“Since I got the news that I may be able to walk again, I have started sleeping better. I have also stopped questioning God on why I was bound to a wheelchair, asking if my sins were more than the average human being on earth.

“Yes, I had to question God because I have done many X-rays, and each time doctors will say I was okay, and will even place me on exercises to straighten my legs, but no matter what, there were no changes.

“The doctors used to be surprised that there were no changes. So I’m very happy and grateful to God for this opportunity he has given me. I also know that he is the only one that can touch the hearts of people to understand my situation and assist me.”

Happiness, who said that the accident disrupted her life, especially her education, added: “The accident stopped me from achieving my dreams. My family couldn’t afford to take me to a hospital to save my life and also pay for school fees. It has been tough for my family over the years.

“Everywhere I go, someone must push me, take me, and then look after me. I became a burden to them, and I didn’t want or like that. There was a time my sister would wake up and start crying, saying that if not for the accident, she would have gotten married.

“My condition deprived me, not just of education, but love, marriage, and children. I don’t think I will be able to find love in my condition. There was a time I used to tell myself that someone will come around, will see, and understand me for the unique woman I am, and would love me just for me, but it never happened.

“I met many guys on Facebook and we would get talking and begin to like each other. But immediately I tell them that I am physically challenged and bound to a wheelchair, and they disappear. I used to feel so devastated. I’m pleading with Nigerians to assist me to grab this chance to walk again.”

If you want to reach out to Happiness,

Phone number: 08038914185

Bank Account: Okwara Lucy Happiness

Account Number: First Bank, 3040600980

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