Against all odds, Ruth Idowu weathers the storm
At 17, Ruth Oluwafolakemi Idowu was attacked by a ‘mad man’, who severed her wrists, which left her in a state of disability. Despite her life-threatening experience, she was resolute and determined to succeed. With the help of public- spirited Nigerians, she put her challenges aside. The Guardian traced her to the University of Lagos, where she is currently a 400 level Employment Relations & Human Resources Management student. GBENGA AKINFENWA reports.
For Ruth Oluwafolakemi Idowu, it was a close shave with death. But having survived that gruesome attack, she pulled herself up and determined to succeed. She faced her challenge headlong, weathered all storms, survived and has moved on with life.This is the inspiring story of Ruth, whose carriage, charming smile and lively disposition depict the picture of a survivor.
At 17, Ruth who was born in Oja-Odan, Yewa North Local Government Area of Ogun State, to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Adegoke Idowu, was dealt a raw deal when her wrists were chopped off by a supposed mad man.
It all happened on October 2, 2010. While assisting her mother in her restaurant within the town, where she stood at the entrance of the eatery, she felt the presence of someone behind her. When she turned to look back, she saw a mad man with a machete, who aimed straight for her head. She took to her heels, but she couldn’t run far before she fell into a gutter. The man caught up with her and straightaway matcheted her.
“To prevent him from cutting off my head and neck, I used my two hands to protect myself, but in the process my two wrists were completely cut off. By the time sympathisers who watched with awe could rush to rescue me, it was too late because he had succeeded in chopping off my two wrists and inflicted a deep cut on my neck,” she narrated.
She revealed that the street boys who were angry at the incident went after the so-called mad man, but he ran straight into a Police Station, where they caught up with him. As he tried to flee again, they grabbed him and set him on fire, because they thought she was dead.
Ruth was taken to several hospitals to see if the severed wrists could be put back in place, but all efforts failed due to non-availability of fund. She spent eight months in the hospital before she returned to the village.But before her return, one Dr. Babatunde Akinremi from the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, the state capital visited the village and heard about the pathetic story from two men of God, Reverend Abiodun of Word Evangelist Ministry and Reverend Ogundele of Baptist Church, both located in Oja-Odan, and decided to help her.
Dr. Babatunde later invited Ruth’s mother and the two concerned men of God to Abeokuta. The doctor then invited another specialist doctor to examine and design artificial limbs for her. But the doctor advised that it would be better if her case was handled overseas, in order for her to put the hands to effective use.
“So Dr. Babatunde made arrangements and I was flown to the United States, for proper medical attention. One Sister Dorcas Ogango, a member of my church, was assigned to accompany me. I spent five months in America and came back with these prosthetic arms. “While undergoing treatment and even after, I wondered why this should happen to me. All hopes seemed lost, but my Pastors kept giving me words of encouragement, which really sustained me,” she said.
The artificial hands were provided by Mike and Steve at Johnson’s Orthopedic Hospital, Riverside, U.S on Thursday, November 8, 2012. When she returned to Nigeria in February 2013 and was taken to Mrs. Soyemi of Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Aro, Abeokuta, she was told that the Association of Psychiatric Nurses of Nigeria had decided to sponsor her education. She was then taken to Mercyland International College, Abeokuta, where she was enrolled to continue her secondary education.
There, the Chairman of the school, Olootu Ogooluwa Bankole offered her full scholarship as a boarding student for the two and a half years she spent in the school and his wife, Dr. Anuoluwapo Bankole, the Proprietress, took her as their own child.But the generosity of the Bankoles did not stop there, they took a further step to ensure Ruth got tertiary education, by encouraging her to gain admission to the University of Lagos, where she is currently.
Now in 400 level, her tuition fee, accommodation, feeding and other allowances are settled by the Bankoles. The Association of Psychiatric Nurses of Nigeria are also assisting by sending her allowances regularly.“I applied for Accounting because of my dream to become a chartered accountant, but I couldn’t meet up with the cut-off mark, reason why I was given Employment Relations & Human Resources Management. At the initial stage, I wasn’t interested in the course, but I am falling in love with the course now, though the stress is much.
“It requires writing lots of notes and I always struggle to catch up with my colleagues, especially during examination. Most times, I don’t finish my papers during exams because my pace is always slower than others and before you know it, time would have gone.“But I still have cause to thank God because some of my mates that had no disability or challenges were advised to withdraw due to woeful results, but with my situation as a physically challenged student, with a good result is a divine arrangement,” said Ruth.
One would have thought she would be relying on the services of porters and colleagues to do most of her chores, but to the amazement of The Guardian reporter, she said: “I can write properly with my prosthetic arms, I can type on the Laptop, I can wash my clothes, my plates and I wash whatever I need to wash.”She described her plight as a blessing in disguise. “I might not have reached this level I am now, if what happened to me did not happen. I have always thought I would end up in a College of education, because of the financial situation of my family.
“By the grace of God, the support of my sponsors and others around me, I have no regret. I thank God for my friends who are always assisting me. I do feel depressed at times, but I still see it as a blessing to be here.When asked of plans after University education, she answered thus: “It’s where God leads me.”
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