Tag Archives: fellows

Meet the Fellows: Michael, Community Health Educator

13 Jul

Chife Foundation Fellow Nwakonuche Michael Obiakor

An established member of the community who previously attended Anambra State College of Health, with support from The Chife Foundation, Nwakonuche Michael Obiakor recently returned to school to pursue a degree in Health Education. A father of four, he says his motivation came from a desire to “save lives by helping people protect themselves against diseases.” He now devotes his weekends to attending classes, anticipating that this higher education will pay off in the future by helping him “plan for a better tomorrow and make maximum use of scarce resources.” He sees poverty, lack of access (especially with regards to long, inconvenient distances between various communities and the nearest health facility—made worse by the region’s poor road and transportation networks), and ignorance about orthodox medicine as the primary challenges for improving health care in Anam.

When asked how he thinks that Anam New City will change the community, he answers that “it will improve the living conditions [by providing] basic amenities, such as health institutions, adequate safe water, and electricity.” Michael has high hopes for the new clinic and health care program: “if health institutions, such as a clinic or hospital, are built and equipped with all the necessary health equipments and well-trained doctors and health personnel, I think Anam people will attend the hospital…and their health condition will be improved.” Michael’s medical background is already proving invaluable to the project—this summer, he is working with Dr. Julia Strickler and other interns to provide critical information on the status of existing health facilities in the region, which will be vital for designing Anam’s new health center.

Anam New City Awareness Campaign: Aboegbu Visit

28 Jun

Chife Foundation Fellow, Linus in Aboegbu with the Anam City Master Plan

On Saturday, June 25th, the Anam Rurban Design Workshop group embarked on a visit to the town of Aboegbu, Anam. The purpose was to learn about the origins of Umuoba-Anam and to increase education and awareness with people in the town about the Anam New City Project. I helped to explain the project to the people in Igbo (the local dialect) and translated for the Chife Foundation staff and interns.

From the research findings, we discovered that people in Aboegbu are not well informed on the progress of the Anam New City project as a result of the communication gap, misinformation spread by some elites in the region, and ignorance of the goals and work being done by the Chife Foundation. This has led to some misunderstandings in the community about the project.

We started by visiting an old man who happens to be the oldest man in the community, Ogbuefi Igbanugo Ifeatu. He is about 98 years, and he showed us photographs of his late mother, Iyom Eeoba, who also lived up to 90 years. He was asked to give the origin of the Aboegbu community, but he could not say precisely when the community started. He learned from his forefather that the community originated in Oda (a town adjacent to current-day Umueze-Anam), and later moved to Aboegbu. Later, additional land was bought at Umuoba-Anam in Otuocha. This land is currently shared by the communities of Umuoba-Anam, Aguleri, and Umueri. Together, these places (except Oda and Aboegbu) are all located in Anambra East.

Chief Ifeatu also expressed his feelings about the ongoing Anam New City project at Ebenebe and said that the people of Aboegbu are fully in support of the project. “How I wish I will witness the completion of the project,” he said in a prayer for successful completion of the project.

We also visited Chief Nwanegbo, the father of the Rev. Father Iyke Nwanegbo. His compound was well fenced, and he has almost completed construction on a water borehole with many tanks. In his one-story building, he has nine people living with him. The house is a four-bedroom unit with toilets and a bathroom and their kitchen outside. He said that a house of that size can cost up to roughly four-million Naira (USD $26,667) and that there is no electricity project in the community. Some people are using a generator plant and that he would appreciate it if “solar power can be brought to the community in order to save them some cost.”

Discussing the Master Plan

Eventually, he commented that the Anam community would love it if a market can be created to save them the stress of going all the way to Otuocha to buy things. He said, “We like development of all kinds and encourage the Chife Foundation team on their work so far and equally encouraged them to continue to work fast.”

Later in the day, we interviewed some local women on the condition of the hospital and health issues in general. They said the medical doctor visits the hospital only one day each week (Wednesday) with a nurse to assist him. They suggested that the medical services should be extended to reach more people in the community. They also suggested a health awareness campaign or education like counseling, house–to–house services, free medication, etc.

When we arrived at the nearby hospital, we met a junior staff nurse, Cecilia. She said the cost of delivering a baby in the hospital is only around 5,000 Naira including drugs (USD $33) and purchasing an admission card for the hospital costs 200 Naira (USD $1.34). She said that, in the beginning, the hospital was a very standard one. However, the staff stole some of the equipment to be used in other privately-owned hospitals.

Currently, she said that she and another nurse attend to patients when the doctor is not present, and the doctor can be called on emergency if the need arises. She said that one of the challenges they encounter is the lack of patients: they treat about 2-3 patients weekly (which is a poor number, she lamented). She equally said that because there is no electricity, the freezers meant for the storage of the drugs are not working and that the doctor usually brings the drugs from Onitsha, which is over an hour away by boat or road.

Measuring Houses

Throughout the day, we educated people on the Master Plan and the progress of the brick factory, fish farm, and the entire project. We told them that development is not a one-day thing rather a process and that we are currently in the planning stages. We used the slogan “the city of Rome was not built in a day,” and the people were impressed by this explanation. They expressed their happiness over the project so far and said they had not previously been informed about the work.

During our interactions in the town, the people of Aboegbu listed some of their major needs:

(1) a good market for the people because there is not a functional market in Aboegbu currently;

(2) electricity, as there is no electricity in the community (except private generators);

(3) a school with qualified teachers to help train future leaders; and

(4) extension of medical services in the healthcare system.

Moreover, some houses in the village were measured by the architect interns in order to understand the building patterns, structures, and arrangement by the people. This understanding can help facilitate a low-cost housing system for Anam.

The community eventually expressed their joy and they prayed for successful completion of the project. They said, “God will bless the people involved, especially Dr. Aloy Chife,” and equally encouraged the interns and the staff of the Chife Foundation. They promised to visit the Anam New City project headquarters.

Post by: Linus Ifeyani Nnweke

The Next Generation of Anam: Linus, Charles, and Anthony

26 Jun

Fellows: Charles, Linus and Anthony

Nnekwe Linus Ifeanyi, Okoye Charles, and Anthony Nnalue Odikpo are each 27 years old and are all the first person in their families to attend university. Despite these similarities, their varied courses of study reflect the array of careers that Anamites can and do pursue. This next generation will also provide a critical range of skill sets on which to build a diverse new city.

Linus is currently pursuing his master’s degree in peace and conflict studies at University of Ibadan. He is eager to use his degree to become a specialist in alternative dispute resolution methods, developing methods for settling disputes outside of a court of law. He is particularly interested in engaging with the United Nations, perhaps even working in a refugee camp in Africa. He also hopes to shape the future of Anam by examining the ways in which the development of Anam New City “will help prevent conflicts between Anam and neighboring communities.”

Charles is one of seven brothers and sisters in a family of traders specializing in spare motor parts. However, after observing Nigeria’s mismanagement of real estate and finance, he chose to direct his career toward estate management. He envisions a distinct role for himself in Anam’s future: “[Anam New City] will bring new development to the Anam people and will help me to contribute to the development of my people, both human and material.”

Anthony began his studies in English and literary studies but quickly discovered his real passion: theater. After completing his master’s degree in theater and film studies, he hopes to establish a training academy for actors and screenwriters. This will likely prove a promising career path, given Nigeria’s flourishing film industry, Nollywood, the second-most-prolific film industry in the world (after Bollywood in India) and the second biggest employer in the country. In fact, due to his strong local ties to Anam, he hopes to build his film business in Ebenebe or Otuocha (areas within Anam). Anthony anticipates that in 10 years, Anam’s biggest innovations will stem from a mixture of improved buildings, aesthetics/beauty, and management: “Anam New City will [serve as a] model to every other city around here and the world at large.”


Introducing the Chife Foundation Fellow Program

23 Jun

Chife Fellows reading the Master Plan

Fellows working on Community Survey

The Chife Foundation is excited to introduce the inaugural Fellows Program this year for the Anam youth. During the 2010-2011 school year, the Foundation provided funding for 25 dedicated Anamites to pursue undergraduate and/or post-graduate education at a Nigerian university of their choice. The Chife’s have sponsored dozens of students over the past years, and this is the first year of community service run in tandem with the Internship Program.   This Fellows Program is deeply rooted in Dr. Chife’s own background: as a young Anamite, the community helped pay for his schooling. Therefore, facilitating higher education for key members of the community remains a central pillar of Foundation operations.

During their long vacations (taking place at various times during June, July, and August), the fellows are working closely with Chife Foundation staff and interns, providing a vital network of community members to help shape Anam New City development. Each of the fellows brings a unique background to the project, and over the course of this summer, we will post a series of short profiles to introduce these dynamic individuals, along with posts from the fellows themselves. Please keep check back for profiles as the program progresses.

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