“Doesn’t it sound foolish to the ears that I’m looking for a child and you’re asking me to start a motherless babies home?”
That was the question on Emem Akenzua’s mind, the CEO of John3v3 Hats, a clothing store in Nigeria, when her pastor asked her to start an orphanage home.
Although, Emem had interest and genuine love for vulnerable children as a young girl and had even registered an orphanage home, but kickstarting it wasn’t her plan at that time.
She wanted a child of her own!
For someone who got married at 33, having a child was the most important. It became a serious issue when she had four miscarriages in just one year, she told JSD
She decided to leave her situation, spend time with vulnerable at the orphanage and she welcomed her son, six years after.
Now the Managing Trustee of Heritage Home Orphanage, Emem shares her story with Adesuwa Onyenokwe as they discussed the topic, ‘Love of Others,’ on this episode of Seriously Speaking.
Most people who see me from afar know only about fashion but all of my life, as far as I can remember really, I have had great compassion for children who are orphaned or vulnerable children in the society. I recall when I was much younger, I would get my mum to take me to orphanages, I will buy little sweets and biscuits and take for the children and if you want to get me crying, my siblings know that just show me a child who is suffering and it brings tears to my eyes. Its something I’ve always done. helping out, helping children who are in need.
Over the years, I supported orphanages, I got married and life happened and it was tough. Young girl meets handsome man, you get together and you think you’re going to live happily ever after with your kids. And I wanted to have four children, my husband thought three were fine and shortly after we got married, within a month, I was pregnant but six months into the pregnancy, I lost it, and that was the beginning of several miscarriages.
We had registered an orphanage between my husband and I because it was a sort of thing we felt we would do. But when this (miscarriages) started, my focus shifted completely. I was in a lot of pain, it was a very difficult time in my life.
And I walked into church one morning and everyone goes, Pastor Ituah is looking for you, he wants you to start a motherless babies home. And I felt like, ‘is he kidding? I’m looking for a child and he’s asking me to go and run an orphanage. I’ve registered an orphanage somewhere but we havent touched the papers.
He didn’t know we had registered the orphanage. The instruction was by the leading of God. But you know there’s a principle God works with. Now, I’m older and knows more about God, you know, whatever pain God wants you to go through, he wants to use for the good of others and he’s letting you pass that path so that when you start walking that walk, you will be able to be more compassionate and speak from the depth of your heart because you’ve been there already and understand what the other person is going through.
The orphanage didn’t start immediately. for about a year, I totally ignored it, because I felt there was just no way but I think God knows the sort of person I am. Usually, I don’t jump into things, but when I start, you cant stop me and I get really into whatever I choose to do. So, I feel that if I had had my child before Heritage Homes started, I probably wouldn’t be doing this because I knew I was going to open an orphanage at some point in my life but I wanted to do it when you’re retired, when you’re 60 but God is not waiting for anyone.
Adesuwa: But you eventually had your child
Emem: yes I did have but there are so many children out there, vulnerable children, orphaned children and abandoned children who need a home. UNICEF says Nigeria has 17.5million vulnerable children. Each of us can take in a child into our home.
Adesuwa: but can we love them?
Emem: of course you can. Absolutely can. I think God has placed inside everyone of us the ability to love a child and it doesn’t have to be… because really the child that comes out of your womb, you grow to love that child, it doesn’t happen automatically. It grows, its bonding, its spending time together, that’s what makes love happen.