Founder, The Enabled Life Organization
Oh how extremely beautiful it is to be a woman!
It is International Women's Day and we can't keep silent about who we are as women and the exceptional ways we have lived far above the status quo, pushed borders and set front line examples.
Our ICON for the year is no other but a woman who has truly lived the theme of the International Women's day, 2019 -Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change.
Born in Nigeria, almost 52 years ago, during a Civil war; the odds were fiercely up against Chichi or any child with Cerebral Palsy.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture.
Chinwe Iromuanya popularly known as ChiChi Iro despite CP, is an unmatchable force to reckon with.
I first met Chichi in 2017 at a women's conference held in Lagos. I saw this "wobbly" walking woman on block heels walk in and taken straight to the speakers' table.
I was drawn by her beauty which shone undaunted by her medical condition. I soon found that her beauty stood no chance when placed side by side with her grace, intelligence and wisdom when she walked up that stage and began to speak to us.
I wept during her session as she awakened a deep sense of purpose in my soul.
Chichi was not only beautiful, she had dished CP's threat a technical knock-out and incredibly reached for her dreams and beyond.
Cerebral Palsy can be a heavy weight to live with.
Living with CP and being female in a time (80's) when the girl child had limited opportunities, was enough to shut every ounce of aspiration Chichi could possibly nurse; but she went on to study Law here in Nigeria.
She is the first person with Cerebral Palsy to graduate from Nigerian Law School in 1988.
At Law school, she met her amazing and ever supportive husband- Tony Iromuanya.
Today, Chichi is a disability advocate, a health coach, motivational speaker and author.
In her words, "Of everything that I am, none give me joy like being the wife of my husband and the mother of my four sons."
In an interview lately with Loretta, Chichi says,
"My type of disability is made complex by the unique movement pattern of one living with cerebral palsy.
It may amaze you to know that I am totally unaware of these movements because by some luck, I manage to live in some level of denial about my condition, which enables me to dare to do the things that others do without the inhibitions of self-doubt.
Occasionally, I am reminded of my uniqueness when I watch a video of myself or when others remind me that I am different, somehow almost immediately I get this revelation, I revert to my default, which is functioning as one without inhibitions.
As the CEO and founder of Enabled Life Foundation, Nigeria, Chichi has set her sight on empowering, providing support and ministering to the needs of individuals living with disabilities in our communities and around the world.
She could have built a bitter, envious life but instead she used her fire to provide warmth for others.
In her words,
"Life is like living with cerebral palsy. Many times uncoordinated, other times hopeless, some times even painful and lonely, always under construction.
They both (Life and Cerebral Palsy) are challenging gifts but we must find reasons to notice the sun, then smile again and again.
Always remember the red lipstick or whatever helps you stay beautiful, especially when in battle. We must find balance."
Innovate for Change
At the time Chichi grew up in Nigeria, there were no role models.
She didn't see anyone that had any form of disability make any remarkable progress in education, relationship or any other aspect of life.
They were hidden behind closed doors! It was disheartening to still learn that 50 years later not much has changed.
Chichi rose to the challenge to change the narrative through her books, and several life changing events via the enabled life organization.
Her book, healing through my stories is a captivating reveal of her trials, triumphs and trophies as one living with Cerebral Palsy.
Chichi isn't only changing the narrative, she has become a succour for disabled people dealing with discrimination and stigmatization.
Hear her for yourself,
"The stigma faced by my people was enormous. I decided through the Enabled life to break the silence concerning living a full life with disability.
I decided to lead Nigeria to experience the new face of ability in disability.
To let them know that yes we can excel in every aspect of life. We are beautiful, intelligent and dynamic."
|At an Enabled life event|
When asked how she is able to do all she does despite CP?
"Do not ask me how one can accomplish these things with Cerebral Palsy? I truly do not know how it happened.
I owe my gratitude to the Almighty God, for equipping me with all I needed to function despite all odds.
I am also grateful for the family I was born into especially my Mum.
My Mum was the one who never accepted any signs of weakness from me. From a young age, she made me believe I could do anything.
My family never treated me differently. In fact they challenged me by always expecting more from me."
Today, we not only celebrate Chichi, we celebrate her mother who raised such an incredible gift for our generation despite how challenging it was.
|Lady Beatrice Umeadi Anyaehie (Chichi Iro's Mum)|
Although Mama passed on 8 years ago, she remains an Icon worthy of emulation. From her commitment to raising her daughter, we are inspired to build smart. Click to donate to Enabled Life Organization
Dear sister, mother, wife, CEO, niece, aunty, cousin, Happy International Women's day.
Lead a forward life by deciding to THINK EQUAL, BUILD SMART and INNOVATE FOR CHANGE!
Committed to your fulfilment