Nurse Ijeoma Udo comes across as a never-say-die individual who doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer. She shares the story of her struggles and triumphs with Iya Magazine
My name is Ijeoma Udo. I was born over three decades ago in Aba. I am the sixth of eight children by my parents.
I grew up in a low-income family. My father was a pastor, while my mother was a petty trader. As a child, I didn’t have everything that I needed, and my parents literally struggled to take care of us. So, I started doing menial jobs when I was still very young. Although we didn’t have enough money, my father hated the idea of sending us off to live with another family. So we lived and survived together.
I attended Eziama Central School in Aba North. I can’t really tell why I hated going to school as a child. When my mother noticed that, she started encouraging me, and I was applauded each time I passed my examinations.
I attended Government Secondary School in Agbor Hill, Aba. Life in secondary school was very challenging, and I was influenced by my peers. I wrote WAEC and GCE for six years before I could pass all the required subjects. It was not a good experience, but I thank God that my parents didn’t give up on me.
On several occasions, I was mocked by people. Some of them even said that I should forget about education. However, I didn’t listen to them. During those waiting years, I worked as a primary school teacher and a cleaner at an MTN office. My goal was to save money for future expenses.
I wrote WASSCE and GCE for six years before I passed. It was not a good experience, but my parents didn’t give up on me
In 2007, after several failed attempts to gain admission into the university, a friend introduced me to her uncle. I paid him a ‘logistics fee’ [aka bribe] of N50,000 to process the admission for me. However, when the list was published, my name was not there.
The following year, I met a lecturer at another school who also made the same promise. He collected N38,000 from me and told me to move into the hostel and commence classes. So, I resigned from my place of work in Aba and traveled to Niger State.
I squatted in the students’ hostel while waiting for the admission list. Unfortunately, when it came out, my name was not on it.
I still remember how I wept bitterly on that day. I had passed the entrance examination and was so confused about what to do next. Going back home was not an option because I didn’t even have any transport fare. So, I continued to stay in the hostel.
One day, top officials came to the school for a meeting. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to narrate my experience to a senior nurse and she spoke with one of the top officials on my behalf.
My long-term goal is to acquire knowledge and qualifications that would enable me to build a hospital and a charity organization
When the man saw that my grades were excellent, he offered me an admission letter instantly. It was like a miracle to me, and that was how I became a bona fide student of the College of Nursing Sciences, School of Midwifery, in Niger State.
I got married while I was still in school. My husband was living in Aba, and after I had my first child, he said that I would not take his child to Minna. I cried and pleaded with him, but he insisted that I should pause my education. When I informed my mother-in-law, she promised to talk to him about it. However, before I could realize what was going on, I discovered that I was pregnant again, and that was how I dropped out of school.
I was really hurt because, after everything I went through to secure that admission, dropping out was the last thing I expected. I felt like the whole world was conspiring against me. So, I stayed at home until my classmates graduated from the school.
After many years of raising my kids, my mother encouraged me to go back to school. She told me that she would look after the kids and when I spoke to my husband about it, he accepted. When I got to Minna, I went to the Provost’s office to beg her to let me continue my education from where I stopped. She refused and claimed that it was impossible because I didn’t defer the admission formally.
Then I met a friend who connected me to someone working in the Ministry of Health. After narrating everything to the man, he gave me an envelope, which I took to the Provost. When she opened and read the content in the envelope, she told me to resume classes.
So, I started in year two and completed my studies. After I obtained a certificate in Midwifery, I also obtained a certificate in Nursing from the School of Nursing, Umuahia, Abia State.
keep pushing hard and never doubt the power of prayer
The journey to becoming a certified nurse was not easy. Besides the academic challenges, I also experienced financial challenges. I sold items like sachet water, crayfish, and thrift clothes in the hostel to support my education. Also, while I was in Minna, I was always worried about my kids. In all, I thank God for taking care of them while I was chasing my dream.
I’m someone who loves to take care of people. So, working as a nurse gives me joy. The major challenge I’m experiencing is the poor salary scheme for nurses in Nigeria. I currently work in a private hospital, and the salary is meagre when compared to the work I put in.
I also provide counselling on fertility and sell drugs for its treatment. Every woman has a unique body system. Some of my patients got pregnant just a few months after commencing the treatment, while others got positive results after a longer period.
The challenge I’m experiencing in this business is that some of the women who buy those fertility drugs complain about the high cost of the drugs. These are the same people who have spent millions of naira searching for a child. Yet, they don’t want to pay a few thousand naira for drugs that have been proved to be effective.
The funny part is that I have also met richer women who assumed that the drugs won’t work because they were cheap. However, I’m not bothered because I’m certain about the efficacy of the drugs.
One of my favourite moments is delivering a new baby into the world. I love to see the smile on the mother’s face when she holds her child for the first time. Also, I feel a lot more fulfilled when I hear testimonies from people who purchased the fertility drug and it worked for them. I’m glad that God is using me to bring joy to families who have waited for a baby for so long.
My long-term goal is to acquire the knowledge and certificates that would enable me to build a hospital and a charity organization. The foundation will take care of teenagers with unwanted pregnancies and provide scholarships to less-privileged children.
I enjoy listening to Christian songs. I’m not really a fan of movies, I would rather hang out with the kids.
Don’t be embarrassed by your failures, and never give up on your dreams because you failed. I always consider failure a delay, not a defeat. The simple truth is that no great success is ever achieved without struggles, obstacles, or challenges.
Therefore, if you are very passionate about your skill or career, then keep pushing hard and never doubt the power of prayer.
Finally, always be good to people because they might become your destiny helpers tomorrow.