How Zita’s Healthy Beginning Got Its Start
When my mother was seven and half months pregnant with me, she got bitten by a stray dog in a flea market. She went to the hospital, sitting at the back of my Dad’s bicycle for 30 miles each way to receive an anti-rabies shot to protect me from having rabies.
They traveled every day for seven days to complete the injections.
About six months after birth, I got sick with bronchitis, and my mother requested to take me to the hospital, but my Dad’s head’s men refused and said that I was too young to suffer from respiratory disease and wondered if I could live.
Besides, the children’s hospital was too far, and no public transportation, and the only alternative was breastfeeding since I was too young to take any traditional remedies. My mother cried and waited for a couple of days more and asked my Dad again to consult with his kingsmen to allow her to take me to the hospital, but they were too adamant about letting my mother go.
My mother noticed that I was getting more dyspneic, with a fever a few days later. She tied me at her back with a wrapper and traveled 30 miles by foot to the children’s hospital. She occasionally stopped by the way to breastfeed me but never had any food herself.
When she got to the hospital, it was dawn, and the doctor admitted her and me.
She and I stayed in the hospital for seven days. After discharge from the hospital, my mother took me back by foot, but on the way, she realized that my Dad’s kingsmen would punish her for being non-compliant; she went to her parent’s house and reported her ordeal.
My grandfather was famous in his community and commanded a lot of respect; after listening to my mother’s story, he got upset. He sent two delegates to accompany my mother back to my father’s house the following day. That simple gesture saved my mother and me from getting punished.
When I was seven years old, my mother shared her ordeal with me, I admired her courage, resilience, and sacrifice, all done to save my life, and I said to her that I would travel the world and take care of women and children whenever I grew up.
After my secondary school education, I struggled with choosing a career part, but one thing that was clear in my mind was the plan to travel the world and provide care to women and children.
I finally decided to become a nurse and a midwife, knowing that these caring professions pointed to what my heart desired. I completed Nursing and Midwifery education in Nigeria.
I worked in Nigeria for a few years after becoming a missionary Sister and have traveled to many parts of the world to provide care to the different populations, especially women and children, for almost 29 years.
In 2015, I worked for the Allegheny health department as a family Nurse partnership RN and home visiting. I worked for four years in this capacity, and I experienced a lot of maternal and child health disparities. I recognized the problems women encounter in accessing health care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, and I wondered how to help.
In August 2015, I traveled to Nigeria for vacation…
…and when I got home, I discovered that my two extended Cousins had passed away during childbirth.
I was heartbroken, realizing that birthing is a joyful event and should never be a death sentence for any woman. I thought about starting a nonprofit organization that can close this gap in Nigeria and Western Pennsylvania.
In February 2016, I founded a nonprofit organization called Zita’s Healthy Beginning. This organization aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality in Western Pennsylvania and Nigeria, where maternal and infant mortality is high.
We accomplish this through education, training of Doulas, and advocacy.
Zita’s Healthy Beginnings conducts annual free clinic in Nigeria. We have secured a piece of land to build a standard maternity hospital (Birthing Place) where women can access care during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
When I reflect on my life journey, I can say that God has positioned me to use my life story, experiences, and skills to provide care to families, especially women and children.
I see this call as my mission, passion, and purpose.
How Zita’s Healthy Beginning Got Its Start
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