Our Monthly Feature
OGHENERO -A Fire Burn Survivor
By Becky Toyin Obarorakpor
This is Oghenero, a 13 years old boy who lived in Warri, Delta State. He is the first amongst the four children of his mother. Growing up, Oghenero’s mother had always told him that his father was dead-a story he had reasons to doubt. Oghenero would always help his mother sell oranges after school and on weekends in her mini shop.
In 2017 on a Sunday, Oghenero offered to follow his mother to the market to sell but she refused, telling him to play with the other children in the compound. While he was playing Soccer with other children, the soccer ball burst and the boys claimed they could fix it. The owner of the ball quickly dashed to his house to drain some fuel from a generator set while another boy went for a matchstick to patch the ball so they could continue playing. The ball was given to Oghenero to hold in-between his legs-a move Oghenero did not disapprove of. The ball was placed in-between his legs, the fuel was poured on the ball and the matchstick was lit. Immediately it began to flame uncontrollably, Oghenero hastily dropped the ball on the floor because his legs were on fire and ran into a pool of water to stop the fire but the damage had already been done.
On arrival, his mother took him to a local clinic where the burn wasn’t properly treated. He stayed in the clinic for about three weeks while the burn began to degenerate.
Subsequently, a friend of his mother, Mrs Ufuoma Ofutoku who was fond of Oghenero advised that he should be taken to Eku Baptist Government Hospital. Acting accordingly, Oghenero was transferred and he began receiving treatment but the burn still wasn’t properly managed.
Thereafter, Oghenero’s mother started taking advantage of his condition to beg and extort money from people. She would lie that he was an orphan and an only child just to be pitied, but the money realized was not used on him.
On a particular day, a treatment bill was issued to his mother who on seeing the large amount told Oghenero that she was going for an all-night church program to be back the following morning. That was the last time Oghenero saw his mother. She never returned.
When Mrs.Ufuoma got to know about Oghenero’s mother’s deeds, dirty acts in the hospital and final disappearance, she reached out to Rev. Richard Obarorakpor who was the Chaplain of the hospital at that time. She explained things to him.
Rev. Richard and Mrs Ufuoma began to source for funds to pay Oghenero’s hospital bills and a home mother from Shepherd Care Orphanage home was detailed to go and take care of him everyday in the hospital.
Oghenero was often referred to as the oldest patient in the hospital because nobody else had stayed as long as he had. He was also very cheerful and always told stories to the other patients, doctors and nurses.
When Stan Hutchinson and his team (Mrs. Diana Williams -a Physiotherapist, Dr. Marci Hutchinson and Miss Chelsea Shoop) visited the hospital in March 2019, they saw Oghenero and developed interest in his case then connected him to Dr. Tina Slusher.
Meanwhile, Oghenero was getting prepared for his third surgical operation and funds for the surgery and skin draft was needed. Thanks be to God, help came for Oghenero through the Hutchinson Mission Team and Dr. Slusher. Arrangements were made and Oghenero was transferred to Group Christian Medical Hospital, Warri after staying in Eku Baptist Government Hospital for close to 2 years.
After few months, a third surgery was conducted on him in Warri by Dr. S. K Nkor, an experienced missionary trained doctor and it was successful.
Oghenero is currently in a high level recovery state. The dressing of the burn is being done on alternative days but his knee still suffers contractures which doctors fear may be permanent.
Presently, Oghenero is united with the Children in Shepherd Care Orphanage home and hopefully his education recommences in September in Bender Scholar Schools Eku, Delta State after about 3 years away from school. Oghenero’s dream is to become a Medical doctor so he can help others like he was helped.