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I have spent the last hour staring blankly at my notepad.
A stormy ocean of thoughts but words have become evasive.
Only the peace of God that transcends all understanding could ease the great burden I feel in my heart right now.

Last year November I met a boy-(Name withheld)
He was exceptional during our chess training sessions
I wanted to meet his parents and tell them how amazing their son was.
He held my hands and took me to a dusty shed where a woman sat calmly on a plastic chair.
He hugged her and said that was his Mother.
She had such a beautiful smile, I remembered seeing the same smile on her son’s face whenever he won a chess game.

I introduced myself to her as her son’s chess coach.
She went on to explain how she had always wanted to come to the training center to thank us for the impact on her son’s life because ever since he started playing chess, she had seen great improvements in his character.
But she couldn’t make it down to the training center because of her condition.
This was when I realized that her right leg had been amputated.

I asked what happened
She narrated this tragic occurrence:

November 2017, things had degraded from bad to worse for her family and her children had gone two days without eating anything.
As every good mother would,she made up her mind to go out and just do anything so her children could eat that night.
She was at the refuse dumping ground at Ojota picking out plastic bottles for recyclers when tragedy struck.

A LAWMA Truck that had come to dump refuse lost control and fell on her and a couple of other people that were there at the time.
People died in that accident
she survived but the trailer caught her right leg and it had to be amputated right there before she could be brought out from under the debris.
The next few months after that tragic occurrence was the worst.
Her Husband abandoned her….
There was no one to foot her medical bills so the wound got terribly infected.
Their small room was constantly filled with blood and pus.
She had just her two sons by her side and a few good-hearted neighbors.

My heart plunged deeply into deep sympathy for this woman.
They definitely have it worse than most people on the face of the earth.
But she survived and came out stronger
While things are still extremely difficult for them, she is hopeful for what the future holds for her sons and would do all she can to make sure they get educated.
On that day, I committed myself to be a permanent part of their lives.

We did a fundraiser on social media and raised about 40thousand naira to help with their house rent.
Her older son (name withheld) who was learning to be a Mechanic also joined our chess club and went on to become one of our best players till date.

Yesterday, I got a call from the older son crying that his mum was very sick.
I was already preparing to go to Majidun to check on some of the kids who were on scholarships.
So I decided that I was going to check on her before leaving Ikorodu.

When I got there, my heart sunk deeply.
She had lost weight severely and looked like a complete shadow of her former self.
She was breathing heavily and her hands were shaking.
This appeared to me like a medical emergency.
It had started raining heavily and I noticed the several leaks in the roof of their home.
Within a few minutes, the room was filled with water.
We had to get her help immediately.
I was thinking hard.

So we ordered a Taxi and made for the general hospital in Ikorodu.
While we were carrying her from the house to the car, she whispered a few words into my ears………My God, what did I just hear?

We rushed her to the emergency ward
A doctor attended to her immediately and they began to run several tests.
She had acute Malaria
The absolute shocker came when the Lab attendant told me she was also HIV positive.

When she whispered in my ears earlier, she said she suspected that she had HIV and if anything happens to her, I should please take care of her sons.

This was too much for me to bear
This was my breaking point
The tears came rolling in
Never had a reason to cry since the last time i was flogged in secondary school for being late.
I couldn’t be a ‘Man’ at this moment.
My heart started racing fast
A myriad of thoughts filled my head
She obviously got the infection during her accident ordeal..
She lost a lot of blood and received some bad transfusion somewhere in between her recovery process.

I remembered her sons!
They were definitely around their mum’s blood more times than any other person.
I looked outside the emergency ward
Her first son was standing barefooted and looking distraught.
He’s just 15years old
He loves his Mum more than anything in the world.
But there was a chance he could be infected too.
This made me cry the more
I had to clean my eyes properly and called him into the emergency ward.
Told him his mum had malaria but she’ll be fine.
I told the lab attendant to test him too
I started praying in my heart
God needed to come through at this moment
Thankfully, the result came out negative…

She was referred to the Heart to Heart ward where she was counseled about her condition.
I had to fill the form as the next of kin
She had no one else
Her sons were too young and didn’t have a mobile phone.
I saw hot streams of tears roll down her cheek.
The doctor kept hammering on it that HIV wasn’t a death sentence and as long as she takes care of herself, everything will be fine.
My heart wandered as the counselling was going on
I was lost in a deep Euphoria of my own thoughts as everything faded into oblivion.
This woman and her sons barely get to eat more than once a day.
How will she ever be able to keep up with eating fruits and vegetables everyday.
They live in one of the worst slums in Ikorodu
Their house without a door
A leaking roof
Their windows without a net
Where they live is badly infested with mosquitoes because of the stagnant waters.

My major Dilemma is whether or not to tell her sons.
Her first son is a remarkable young boy whom I have come to love as my own blood brother.
He won the closed chess championship we organized for the children about a month ago.
He won all his games at the OSFI tournament earlier this month against some of the best junior chess players in the country.
An excellent chess player with a strong will to be successful.
He’s also an apprentice at a local mechanic’s shop in the community.
He does menial jobs to support his mum
He’s just 15years old but has the diligence of an adult.
I always tell him that his fight is different and if other children are learning ten things, he must learn a hundred things.
The future of his family depends on him now.

How do I tell this boy that his mother is HIV positive and now he has to be careful around her blood and avoid sharing sharp objects and toothbrushes?
Wouldn’t he be scared to death
The effect this could have on his mental health.
The boy is a natural-born problem solver on the chessboard but now he has to solve problems outside the 64 squared template.
Problems beyond his understanding
Problems beyond even my own understanding.

Life is unfair
What do I do?…………………………..
We take it to God.

We got the Anti-Retroviral( ARV) drugs
She has to use one every day for the rest of her life to help strengthen her immune system.
We also went to the pharmacy and bought the prescribed drugs for malaria…
The community must not know about this yet as the stigmatization would only make things unbearable for her sons.

King Solomon asked God for wisdom when he could have asked for all the riches in the world and everything else.
If you’ve been in the position of a leader, you’d understand that Solomon’s choice of wisdom over wealth and power wasn’t really that hard of a decision to make.
It was the obvious choice.
Wisdom is the most important virtue every true leader must possess.
And only God gives true wisdom…

This Family needs sustainable help
I don’t have the financial capacity to do this
But we can all come together and be superheroes for their sake..
We have to rise up to this situation and challenge the humanity in us.
In the midst of all these, I questioned God several times.
Why does he allow good people to suffer this much, why not do something about it I queried?!
He said, “I did something already, I created you “.
I am the solution and I would not rest till this family gets all the help they need. So help me God.

I have listed a few steps we need to take going forward:
•A complete renovation of their room(Doors, windows, ceiling and wall cracks)
•Financial support in the form of weekly allowances for them so she can maintain a healthy diet
•A fundraising campaign on all social media platforms.
•Setting up a sustainable business for the woman so she can earn on her own.
•Let’s tag as many celebrities that we know
Involvement of NGOs that support HIV patients.
• Buy a wheelchair

If you have any other suggestion, you can drop it in the comment section
Let’s share this and make it go viral.
Let’s help keep this woman alive so she can be around for her children.
So she can watch them grow up and become great success stories.

Send all monetary donations to

Chess in slums initiative GTbank.
Mobile contact: 08172792588

Please help
Help! Help!
God bless us all



.As written by Tunde Onakoya

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