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Friday, 9 May 2014

Collins The UNDETERRED : #BringBackOurBoy

Collins, Our first UNDETERRED, is Dead.

We have received the sad news that Collins
Nwaoha- a recent IMSU graduate of Law, currently
in Law School, has passed on. Collins was a blind
Imo Star, but he didn't let his disability get the
better of his dreams.

It was this special quality and unique
determination of his that made us Interview him
in our premier "Undeterred" feature. His story is
one that is painful and heartbreaking but at the
same time courageous and inspiring; it pains us
greatly that the unique journey of his life has
come to an abrupt end.

However, we thank God that we bore witness to
Collins' struggle, zest and determination; he
fought a good fight, and he won!
Here is a testament to it- the story of his life
which he passionately narrated to us, when he
was in 300L.

UNDETERRED (June 2011)

He cannot see but has maintained the path to his
dream; Meet Collins Nwoha Chukwudi.
Physical disabilities have killed the dreams and
aspirations of many. Physically challenged people
litter every corner of our streets begging for alms.
Only the strong-willed have risen above their
disability and followed their dreams, and they are
few.

One of such unique individuals is Collins
Nwoha Chukwudi, an Imo Star and a third year
student of Law, he hails from Nwangele L.G.A in
Imo State.

Collins is completely blind, he last saw
anything when he was seventeen (17), while in
secondary school, but this has not, in anyway
deterred him from pursuing his ambitions in life.
Collins is the third child in a family of four. Two
boys and two girls, he is a victim of a broken
home, a situation he explains that contributed to
his blindness;
“When I was little, I discovered I had a problem
with one of my eyes, which my parents never took
notice of, especially from my dad’s side. I come
from a broken home, my dad divorced my mum
when I was four (4) or six (6) years old, and you
know coming from a broken home, the children
suffer for what they don’t know about. That is
what I am passing through now and that is what
led to my blindness, because of the negligence of
my father. He didn’t show much concern for us
after my mother left; I lost my sight due to his
negligence.”

After his (Collins) primary school at age twelve or
thirteen, sensing that his father was not doing
anything to help his deteriorating eyesight, Collins
left the house in search of his mother;
“When I met mum and she took me to the
hospital, they (the Doctors) said it was Cataract; a
simple cataract that could have been removed,
but it was already late. The advice was that I be
flown to London, but the money was not there,
and we just had to leave everything in God’s
hand. My mum tried her best, but all the same,
life still goes on.”

Life went on, his eyesight kept deteriorating, and
one day;
“I woke up from my siesta to discover that the
little eyes I used in seeing light and can walk
around with were no more there. From there I
started picking the pieces of my life and started
encouraging myself, and today I think I can do
without the eyes, I can just do with the minds.”

After going fully blind, Collins moved to a special
school for the blind in Port-Harcourt where he
learnt how to read with the blind. Although he
now has a damaged eyesight and home, his
dreams were still unhurt. Collins carried on his
academics and now even made better grades,
better than when he had his sight. Collins met
further frustrations in WASSCE (West African
Senior School Certificate Exam) and UME
(University Matriculation Examination) having to
sit for them four and three times respectively. This
did not shake him, he had ambitions and they
kept steering him on.
“For me it was not very easy then, it’s just that I
was determined to go to school because I wonder
what I will be doing without education. I did not
do well in JAMB, I scored 198 (his last JAMB) it
was through God’s mercies and grace that I got
admission to study Law.”

Such was his journey into Imo State University
passing through the gate, but never seeing it. If
the first challenge was coping in the University,
the second and hardest would be the ability to
cope studying Law, with the course being very
demanding;
“For a physically challenged person studying Law,
it’s not very easy, being a professional course, I
just need to give in my best because once I slip
up I may just drop out of school. So I try as much
as I can everyday to make friends, to be with
them, to study hard, I just try to be like them. It
hasn’t been easy, it’s just a challenge I took upon
myself to be great in life.”

You would be wondering how he learns and reads;
“I buy textbooks, now I have a computer, so I scan
my books and the computer reads it out for me.
For my classes, I have made clusters of friends
that help me in going for lectures. Apart from
lectures, I do every other thing myself… For my
lectures, there are some who give me attention
and wonder how I cope, they try to put themselves
in my shoes and I must thank some lecturers like
Professor Ezeanyika, who really motivates me, and
Professor Nnabue my Dean”.

Physical challenges could dampen a person’s
social spirit, thereby making them introverts; this
is not the case at all for Collins. A very affable
person whose prominent hobby is singing (mind
you, he used to be a rapster).

“I talk a lot, I play a lot, but I am also very quiet
(Laughs).”

He used to have a girlfriend, though not disposed
to discuss why they separated (Collins is also a
staunch admirer of IMSU girls).

“IMSU has very good girls, seriously I must
confess, they are very nice, the ones I have so far,
they are friendly and have been supportive to
me.”

Collins is also very close to his course mates, he is
a source of motivation for many;
“Most of them (course mates) have openly come to
meet me and told me that am the reason they are
still doing Law, that am a huge source of
motivation for them. Some times when you see
someone whom you feel cannot make it in life
really pushing on, you want to tell yourself, and ‘I
can make it too.’ This is how it is for most of my
course mates. Also, I can speak of Law today
because of my course mates like Anthony who
always comes around to teach me some things,
and Samuel, Mercy, I.J and many others; they have
been of tremendous help to me”.

Although he has “clusters” of friends, it may
surprise you to know that Collins lives alone. He
lives independently. Cooking his food, washing his
clothes and doing his chores himself (And he is
always very smart).

About how he lives through his day;
“My day is just normal, a normal school day, just
like any other normal person’s day. You wake up
in the morning, you check your time table, you
come for lectures just like that. I add some other
little activities like building up myself
motivationally (Listening to motivational tapes)
because am a motivational speaker. Like on
Fridays and Saturdays I use those days in building
up myself motivationally”.

Collins has plans for after school;
“I plan to practice (Law) but if I am not going to
practice I will go into business. Though blind
lawyers are not allowed to practice in Owerri here,
but I have asked questions, like in Overseas, they
allow them to practice, I also heard in Abuja they
(Blind Lawyers) are allowed to practice.”

Another tragedy struck when Collins' lost his mum
– who was single-handedly raising him, died three
weeks ago.
“It is the most frustrating moment I have had in
life. She died three weeks ago. She died when I
needed her most. I just started exams, I have not
been studying. I have been going through
emotional stress; it has been my most frustrating
moment in life.”

Collins is a role model for all physically and
emotionally challenged people, he everyday
overcomes the trials, following his dreams
unscathed.
“Life is a lesson, I am using myself as an example,
I can’t get married tomorrow and want to live the
kind of life my parents lived, because at the end
of the day, the children will be the ones to suffer
what they do not know.”

Collins Nwoha Chukwudi is an undeterred! He is
no doubt destined for greatness. For a young man
hit by every kind of misfortune: Coming from a
poor and shattered home, losing his sight and
most recently his mum, yet carrying-dreams intact,
ambitions unhurt. Collins may not be able to
know the way around the streets; he is very
conversant with the path to his future. The story
of Collins is a touching one; it has the strength to
exude tears from any eyes. But one very consoling
and heart-warming factor is that Collins won! He
won his blindness, won his loss of a happy family;
he did not, like many others relegate to the
backseat of the society. He is greatness
personified, he is an UNDETERRED!

This story was first published in the first edition
of Students’ Voice Newspaper (June 2011).

RIP Collins, he was buried Thursday, May 8 at Amaigbo, Nwangele L.G.A, Imo State

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