“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
She was so sick that her mother abandoned her in a forest to die. But this woman survived and grew to survive other storms of life.
Read the inspiring story of Dorathy Aniefiok, a supermom who is willing to sacrifice everything for her children…
Surprises are the greatest gifts that life can grant us. Sometimes we get the beautiful ones that put a smile on our faces, but in the case of Mrs Clement Akpan, the sudden death of her husband was a surprise she never expected. Their marriage was a few years old, and she had just given birth to their first child. Unfortunately, no one negotiates with Mr Death when he comes knocking.
After the death of her husband, she experienced intense grief and was very confused. What would she tell Dorathy, their four-month-old daughter, when she grows up and asks about her dad? How would she fend for herself and the child? Who would marry a widow? She had several fears and worries. However, she continued to live each day, hoping for the best.
Born in Obot Local Government in Akwa Ibom State, Dorathy grew up without experiencing the love of a father. When she was two years old, there was an outbreak of measles in the community, and many children were affected, including her. The community had just one health centre, which was filled with sick children, and most of them were dying due to a lack of proper medical care. Dorathy was sick to the point that her mother felt sure she would die. She was afraid to watch her daughter die in her arms, so she decided to wrap her in a blanket and dump her in the forest so that wild animals would feast on her.
They say that you can’t cause harm to a person whose guardian angel is always awake. So after the widow left, a big python came and coiled itself around the child. It didn’t harm her but protected her from other wild animals. Later on, a woman who was returning from the farm saw the python and the child. She went and called the other villagers. Amongst the people that came was Dorathy’s grandmother. When she moved closer to see the child, she was surprised to find out that it was her granddaughter.
At that moment, the python crawled away, and she picked up Dorathy and took her home. After that incident, most of the villagers assumed that it was the spirit of her late dad that came in the form of a python to protect his child in the forest. Did you know that the sick child recovered and became strong just a few days later? Yes! It was a miracle.
Dorathy was raised by her grandmother because her mother got remarried when she was six years old. She grew up believing that her mother never loved her. Which mother would abandon their child to die? Although her parents were absent, her grandmothers were there for her. She lived mostly with her maternal grandmother, who trained her in a godly way.
” She was a disciplinarian and a hard-working woman. She taught me many useful things. When I was a child, she used to flog me, and I felt I was being maltreated, but today, I have realized that her training made me strong. I’m grateful to her for teaching me how to be independent. All the suffering I went through as a child actually prepared me for the future. The truth is that what I have experienced in this life is enough to kill a person, but I thank God that I’m still waxing strong. “
Her grandmother was a businesswoman. She sold assorted fish and was making huge profits. While Dorathy was helping her to sell fish, she didn’t know that she would also become a trader in the future. Dorathy attended Obot Community Primary School and had her secondary education at Obot High Comprehensive Secondary School. Although she had the desire to go to university, her grandmother couldn’t afford to sponsor her education. So, at the age of seventeen, Dorathy fell in love with Mr Aniefiok, and they both decided to get married.
The decision to tie the knot was not approved by some of the family members, especially Mr Aniefiok’s elder brother. He felt that the couple were too young to get married. So he vehemently objected to the union. However, they insisted and got married in 1990. Three years after the marriage, the couple started experiencing misfortunes in different areas of their lives.
“My husband was a yam seller. He was selling in large quantities. He would travel to the north to purchase his goods and resell them in Lagos. Everything was going well, and he was making huge profits. Then suddenly, he started experiencing bad luck and failures, which continued until he had to stop selling yams.
The second hustle he did was to drive a motorcycle for commercial purposes. Did you know that he was always involved in accidents? We couldn’t even enjoy the little money he was earning because he was either using it to repair the bike or to treat the injuries caused by the accident. This continued until the bike was damaged completely. At that point, he became jobless, so the whole family’s financial responsibility was on me.”
Everyone knows that the cost of living in Lagos State is high. So, you will need more than a meagre income to survive. Being the breadwinner for a family of six wasn’t easy for Mrs Dorathy. She had to work harder to meet her financial responsibilities. She would wake up at 4 am to go to Oyingbo market, where she buys her goods at a cheaper price and resells them at Dopemu market, where she has a shop. The market closes by 6 pm, but she works overtime just to make more money. She uses her profits to sustain the family, although it has never been enough.
In 2006, her husband had a stroke and one of his legs became paralyzed. Dealing with the illness was very challenging for the family. Dorathy was carrying her husband from one hospital to the other, and they spent all the money they had on drugs and hospital bills. They even had to seek financial assistance from family and friends. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find any solution after spending so much money. So they had to bring him home, and Dorathy became his caregiver and nurse.
“I was the one taking care of him. I watched him suffer in pain and misery for 16 years. Do you understand what that means? If you have ever lived with a sick person, then you will understand how traumatic it is. I was the one cleaning up the faeces and feeding him. Although we stopped going to hospitals, we were still buying drugs. It got to a point when my business was affected and we had no money left. We suffered, starved, begged, cried, and prayed to God for help. The burden was too heavy for me to bear, but I had no other choice. My faith in God helped me, although there was a time I started doubting if God truly cared about my family. “
One good thing about Dorathy is that she might be fighting a battle, but her smile would never tell you so. She believes that there is always hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t. Her husband was one of the strongest people she had ever met. Unfortunately, he didn’t have an easy life. Despite all the trials, he managed to create strength and happiness. However, after all the struggles and pain, he finally gave up the ghost on the 10th of April, 2020.
Does time really heal the pain of losing a loved one? The truth is that the sadness doesn’t go away, we just get used to it. For Mrs Dorathy, although her husband has been gone for more than two years now, whenever she remembers everything that happened, she still feels a stabbing pain in her heart.
“I cannot say that he is dead. He has just relocated to an unknown land. Although he is far away, I still see him waving his hands at me. He wears a cheery smile. I still feel his presence and I know that he is in a better land where pain, evil, and wickedness don’t exist.”
There is no love greater than a mother’s love, and no sacrifice is comparable to a mother’s sacrifice. When you are a mother, the welfare of your child is always a top priority. Mrs Dorathy is a mother who makes daily sacrifices for her four children. Her goal is to raise university graduates.
“I have borrowed, begged, and gone hungry just to raise money for my children’s education. I have no parents or in-laws to run to. While my husband was still alive, everyone abandoned us. So, I have been carrying the cross by myself. It has not been easy, but I thank God for always helping me. “
In the last twelve years, Mrs Dorathy has gained the experience required to run a successful food items business. Her major customers are restaurant owners. They call her on the phone to book the items they need. Some of them are nice, while others are overbearing and ungrateful. However, she tries her best to satisfy all of them because, without them, her business would not prosper.
The struggle of this strong woman is yielding good results. At least, she pays her bills and children’s fees with the profit she makes. Her first child has already graduated from Lagos State Polytechnic. The second and third are undergraduates at the University of Uyo, while her last child is waiting for admission to the university.
Growing up without parental care was difficult for Mrs Dorathy, and that’s why she has decided to give her children all the love and care she can provide. She also hopes that her children will take care of her in her old age.
“I’m not bothered by whatever I am passing through to help us. I always see women who go to parties every Saturday, but I don’t because I’m busy. Sundays are my off days, and I spend them in the presence of God. I have grown up children that can handle most things by themselves, so they let me rest very well on Sundays. Then the struggles continue very early on Mondays.”
Dorathy advises widows to stand on their feet and face the reality of life. Nobody’s life is a bed of roses. Everyone has a challenge that they are dealing with, and that is why they might not attend to your problem when you take it to them.
“Yes! The father of your kids may be gone, but you are still here for the children. God expects you to take care of them. I know of a woman who trained her children in university with the earnings from her groundnut business. No matter how small the business might seem, just start with it and be consistent. God has promised to bless the work of your hand, so always depend on him. If you depend on a man, you will be disappointed. “
According to Mitch Albom, when you look into your mother’s eyes, you’ll see the purest love you can find on this earth. Although at the moment, Mrs Dorathy cannot afford a life of luxury for her children, they are still grateful for all the sacrifices she makes for them. Moreover, the world might see her as that trader who is always in the market struggling for customers, but to her children, she remains a heroine and a SUPERMOM.