Today is World CP Day and it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to celebrate my friend Nnonye Nweke the proud mother of Chizimuzondu (Zimuzo). Nnonye’s story is simply inspirational!
Chizimuzondu was adopted as a six-day-old baby. She gave so much joy to her mother (still does) Nonye, who adopted because she did not have a baby of her own but says she had so much love to give. However, she noticed after a couple of months that Zimuzo was not achieving her developmental milestones. Nnonye’s concern was dismissed by a doctor with a wave of the hand; ”Some babies are naturally slow developers”. At five months, Zimuzo was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
The doctor advised Nonye to take back the child to the ministry where she had processed her adoption. He asserted that she would be unable to care for such a child. On getting to the ministry, Nonye met with the head of the unit who insisted that she leave the child and reiterated the assertion of the Doctor that she would be unable to care for the baby especially as a single parent. She was assured that arrangements would be made for another baby. When Nonye asked about the fate of the baby if she were to leave her as advised, she was told that Zimuzo would be taken to an orphanage. Up until this time, the words “Cerebral Palsy” was alien to Nnonye. But it was obvious from the dispositions of the Doctor and the head of the Unit, that it was an issue of substantial consequence.
Nonye left Zimuzo, much as she hated to do that and started reading about Cerebral Palsy on the internet. She called her friends and informed them of her predicament and her intention to go back for Zimuzo. All of them without exception, each advised her to the contrary. But the more she read about the condition CP, the more she was convinced that she needed to go back for her baby because Zimuzo needed a lot of help which only a mother could offer.
On getting her baby back, she started a search for a place that cares for children with CP, A place where she could leave Zimuzo during the day and attend to her business but there was no such place. Nnonye was faced with the challenge of taking care of Zimuzo, managing her business, keeping doctor’s appointments and going for Physiotherapy at LUTH. In January 2007, Nonye found a daycare center near her residence that accepted Zimuzo, but the very next day while at work, the head teacher invited her to a meeting. At the meeting, she was informed that the daycare center could not take on Zimuzo because other parents would withdraw their children from the center.
Based on the futility of Nnonye’s search for a center that could care for her daughter while she earned a living and the realization that a lot of parents of children with CP would be going through the same experience, she shut down her business in 2009 and took on the challenge in 2010 of starting the Cerebral Palsy Center (CpCenter) in Surulere, Lagos. The Center has brought so much respite to parents of children with CP. Now they have a place where they can leave their children, go to work and be assured that these children are receiving all the needed therapies. The CP center currently cares for 20 children and has touched over 200 lives since it opened.
Now you see why I celebrate Nnonye. She is so selfless and such an inspiration. She is personally involved supported by her team, in caring for the children at the center. Nnonye you are simply phenomenal! Well done and keep up the good work.
To find out more about the CP Center, visit Cerebral Palsy Center. Your support would also go a long way in encouraging Nnonye to expand and take in more children, bringing succor to many families.
To find out more and how you can support, please contact
Cerebral Palsy CenterLagos, Nigeria37b Bode Thomas Street
(+234) (0)8033482792 | (+234) (0)7032443664
(+234) (0)8077320269 | (+234) (0)8021243022.