‘Taking care of old people is a gift given to me by God’
Jessica studied Agronomy (Crop science) at the Delta State University and obtained her M.Sc. from the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. She took up a part-time job at a care home, where she was certified a caregiver and this developed her interest in caring for old people. Today, Jessica runs an old people’s home in Port Harcourt, where she cares for them through her Jev Care Initiative. She shares her story and the inspiration behind her passion.
I am Evi Jessica Johnson-Ogubere, married to Mr. Johnson Ogubere from Isoko south Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. I studied Agronomy (Crop Science) for my first Degree in Delta State University and hold a MSc. in Environmental Management from the University of Wolverhampton, West Midland, United Kingdom.
I worked with Krohne Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria immediately after my National Youth Service Corps. I was employed at Krohne Oil and Gas from 2009 to 2011 as Office Assistant and later promoted to Admin/Commercial Officer and finally as a Procurement Officer. I resigned in September 2011 to further my education.
While in the United Kingdom, I got a job with Techinnovate UK Limited, Nottingham, as a Procurement Officer. Furthermore, I did a part-time job at a care home, where I cared for elderly people and obtained a certificate as a caregiver. I developed interest in caring for the old people. I didn’t know I could care for the elderly until I started working in different care homes in the United Kingdom. That was when I discovered that I have passion to care for old people.
Inspiration behind Jev Care Home
During my work at different care homes in the UK, I found out that I have passion to care for the old people. This is because I enjoyed chatting, helping and staying around them. I responded to shifts without complaint and I did all assigned duties quickly. That was when I realised this as a gift given to me by God.
Secondly, due to my experience working as a caregiver, I discovered we lack this care in Nigeria. This is because the governments in developed countries provide free transportation, health services and general care for the old people above 60years, which we do not have in Nigeria.
My late grandmother was so old and she was staying with my mum. This wasn’t easy for her because she was combining her job and caring for her mother. We tried looking for a care home to put her so that she could be properly cared for, but there was no care home around us. It was not easy for her. We ended up bringing someone home to care for her. The person came in the morning and left in the evening, thereby creating a vacuum between the evening and the next morning, as my mum might be too tired to look after the old woman after a hectic day at work.
That was when I got the idea of establishing a care home, where different old people from different backgrounds can stay and interact and are cared for round the clock. This will help to relieve their children, guarantee the safety of the old people due to frequent rape and violence in the country, as well as keeping them company to avoid loneliness.
When I got the idea of having a care home and caring for the old people, I discussed with some relatives and friends, as I was not married at that time. They discouraged me and advised that I should get a job and not a care home, where I would spend the little money I had. Also, the old people will mess up their bodies with faeces and I would expose myself to diseases. They almost changed my mind, but due to my passion for caring for the aged, I continued.
Secondly, the challenge of finance came, when it was time to register Jev Care Home Initiative as a non-governmental organisation with the Corporate Affairs Commission. It was difficult getting the fund, but God intervened and I got the fund to register it. More funds were needed to set up a care home for the aged people. We solicited for fund by moving from one organisation to the other, visiting both corporate bodies and individuals for support, but they turned us down, saying they cannot commit funds to such an idea since it is not going to yield any return.
At that time, I felt like giving up, but I held on to the word of God in Habakkuk 2 verse 3, which states (for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come). This verse has kept me on till today and to the Glory of God, Jev Care is moving higher. And though we are yet to get a home, but we have been visiting aged people, caring and supporting them both materially and financially.
The saying that when you put a smile on others’ faces, yours will be broader is true. Whenever we give the aged gifts and support, I am always moved to tears of joy, when I see the smiles on their faces. It shows that there is someone, who cares for them. Jev Care Home Initiative will always care and show love to the aged, as it is the core objective of the organisation to do so.
Knowing that aged people appreciate the support and care we offer them makes me feel fulfilled. I have the conviction that whatever you do to others, you do to yourself.
Funding as a major challenge
The dream of setting up a home, which is the bedrock of this idea with caregivers, security personnel’s and medical team is yet to be achieved due to insufficient fund.In this part of the world, many people in position to support have refused to, as Jev Care Home Initiative is a non-profit organization, which has made our achievements very little compared to what we really have in mind.
Perception of Nigerians About Old People’s Home
Whether we like it or not, getting old is compulsory. Nigerians do not value old people’s home because if they do, they would have supported this idea of building one both morally and financially. Also, the government would have provided free transportation; medicals and general care for old people above 60 years. We see old people at hospitals paying their bills or their kids paying for them. We also see them on the streets looking unkempt, begging for alms and even sick in some cases. This has led to my conclusion that Nigerians do not value old people’s home.
Being a Woman of Rubies
I am a woman with noble character, who can be trusted. The fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, reigns in my heart. I am a great blessing to my generation.As long as God lives, though the road may be tough, I am confident that I will get there. He is using me to put smiles on old people’s faces. For that I am thankful to Him and as long as I live, I will continue to show love, care and support for the elderly.Having identified a need for a care home for the aged people in Nigeria and vigorously pursuing the vision to ensure that it is realised, makes me a woman of Rubies.