The home offers a decent environment and passionately qualified personnel which ensure that kids that would otherwise not have had an opportunity in life are offered a chance to compete and earn a place in life.
Ngwa Road Motherless Babies’ Home is the first orphanage in the whole of Eastern region of Nigeria having being commissioned since 1965.
We’ve been saving children & securing their future
Ngwa Road Motherless Babies’ Home was founded by Mrs Joyce Onyekwere Nwobbi (nee Ngbaronye) whose story is nothing short of remarkable.
The then Miss Joyce Onyekwere Ngbaronye was assisted by her older brother Dr Robert Ngbaronye to come over to England. Dr Ngbaronye was a stowaway on a ship that sailed from Lagos, Nigeria to the port at Southampton, United Kingdom in 1939. Eventually, he ended up in the Royal Air Force of the British Government as a member of the Pilot Navigator Bomber crew that was involved in the Second World War. At the end of the war, the British government gave him a full scholarship to study medicine which he did and eventually became a medical doctor in England. His story is well documented in the Imperial War Museum of the British government and some of his exploits were published in the 1945 edition of the West African Pilot magazine which was a well-known source of information for most Nigerians at the time.
It was in 1950 that he arranged for his younger sister to sail from Nigeria to the United Kingdom to study nursing. The records indicate that Miss Joyce Onyekwere Ngbaronye is listed in 1952 as living at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Mindelsohn, Edgbaston, Birmingham BI5 2TE as a student nurse. She was in fact registered at that hospital just before the Christmas of 1953 as shown by attachment 144332 of the Birmingham History Forum.
After graduating as a registered nurse/midwife and serving in the said Birmingham Hospital, she returned to Nigeria. She was employed in the early 50s as a Nursing Sister in Park lane hospital, Enugu, in the then Eastern Region, Nigeria.
Her service to humanity in the area of taking care of motherless babies had its origin in her subsequent posting to Aba General Hospital, in the middle ’50s, where she served as a Matron in Ward “B”. While serving at Aba General Hospital, she encountered several motherless babies that were abandoned by their fathers, consequent upon the death of their wives during childbirth. In those days, maternal mortality was quite high; the majority of Ngwa women (who constituted a reasonable percentage of the pregnant women in her ward), generally had health challenges that led to their death during or immediately after delivery. The embittered fathers of those children, abandoned the babies partly because they believed that the babies killed their wives and also because they found themselves unable to take care of such children.
With her magnanimity, she bought baby milk with her own money and started engaging her nurses to look after the babies.
Association for Motherless Babies’ Homes
While still serving at Aba General Hospital, the number of babies continued to increase; Apkakara (the local bed made from bamboo in use in those days) started filling up. Realizing she could no longer sustain the project alone, she sought assistance from her personal friends to enable her to continue to look after the children.
Eventually, the number of babies increased to about 15, necessitating the need to move them out of the hospital. She generated income to rent a 2-room apartment on Jubilee Road, Aba, (next door to her hospital), formalized her group of friends and registered them as Association for Motherless Babies’ Homes. They continued to rescue abandoned Motherless Babies all over the then Eastern Region, housing them in the 2-room apartment until they successfully completed the front part of the Home now located at 79A Ngwa Road, Aba.
Association for Motherless Babies’ Homes was established and commissioned in August 1965 by Mrs. Adanma Okpara, wife of the then Premier of Eastern Nigeria who had earlier laid the foundation stone of the building on the 7th day of May 1965, under the supervision and blessing of the Rt. Reverend Monsignor J. A. Nwanegbo. The Home officially kicked off with 15 babies.
The association had Dr Hon. & Mrs. M. I. Okpara, and Hon. & Mrs. Nnanna Kalu as Patrons. The Foundation Members were Mrs Joyce O. Nwobbi, Mrs Grace N. Onuchima, while the following were members of the association: Dame M.W. Okezie, S.P. Onyejiaka, Modupe Cole, Uyi Ogun, Dorcas Agbajoh, Dame Dorcas Anyalenkeya, Dame Monica Ofurum, Mrs Joe E. Okoronkwo, Mrs Theresa C. Okafor, Madam Mabel Isiakpona, Mrs Martha N. Nwokedi, Mrs G. O. Onochie, And Mrs V. Okeke.
The Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 70)
By the onset of the Civil War, the number of babies had doubled. The Federal Armed Forces brutally attacked the city of Aba throwing the city into pandemonium. This resulted in an influx of abandoned kids needing care in the Home. Mrs Nwobbi didn’t have an option but to consider vacating the city of Aba (around 1968) due to the advancing Federal Armed Forces. At this time, the number of kids in the Home had increased to more than 500.
While bombs rained on Aba, determined not to let go of any of the kids, Mrs. Nwobbi cried out for help. The United Nations sent a 9-1-1 truck which ferried the children, including Mama’s family, away from the initial location of the Home. She moved the kids to Community Primary School, Amuzukwu-Ibeku, Umuahia, Abia State, that year, and the next year (1969), she moved the Home to Ezenosochie Primary School, Obowu, currently in Imo State. By that time, the number of kids had increased to more than 1000. Due to the same advancing Federal Forces, the Home was again moved to the Umudim, Orlu, for a brief stint until the end of the Civil War in January, 1970, by which time the Home had over 1500 kids under its care.
During the Civil War, the Home was sustained by the Biafran Food Directorate based in Enugu. The food base was shifted from Enugu to Aba, Umuahia, and finally to Orlu where it stayed until the end of the war. However, due to the debilitating effects of the food blockade imposed by the Federal Government, there was very little protein on the Biafran side of the war.
In a bid to avoid nutritional deficiency diseases, the Founder/President, Mrs. Nwobbi, on many occasions had to cross enemy lines to buy crayfish which was the only easily available source of protein during the Civil War.
It was only when she brought the kids back to Aba in 1970 that the number reduced to less than 500 kids. The Home presented a platform where kids were reuniting with their parents on a daily basis. By the end of the year, the number of kids had reduced to a more manageable figure of around 100.
Post Biafra War
At the end of the Civil War, having waited for over one year for the various parents to show up and pick up the remaining kids, an adoption process was initiated. On a national level, a few needy parents came to adopt kids from the Home at zero cost. In those days, child adoption was not a popular practice.
Fortunately, the international community came to the rescue. Mrs. Nwobbi presented the kids to various international organizations; Canada Vision International, Caritas, WCC (World Council of Churches) and Oxfam, to mention but a few, for adoption. Luckily, these efforts yielded some positive results; these charity organizations started making periodic donations to the Home. In particular, WVC (World Vision of Canada) adopted most of the children in the Home below the age of 6yrs. The Founder/President used these funds to successfully run the Home throughout the 70’s & 80’s.
From the 90’s it had become quite fashionable to make donations to the needy and less privileged. In a turn of events however, Nigeria projected itself as an oil-rich country in the 80’s which resulted in the discontinued support of international donors who used to support the Home.
The Home was the first NGO that started the process of adoption to prospective parents at zero cost from 1965 to 1975. From 1975 – 85, with the problem of unwanted pregnancy of young girls, the Home was also the first to give succour to young girls driven out of their houses by irate parents.
Mrs. Nwobbi at that time called such girls Social Mothers and the policy was for prospective parents looking for kids to defray the cost of looking after the Social Mother, birth expenses and a small stipend to the girl to start her life afresh. All these were done with altruistic intentions.
The Home’s primary and only interest was to protect the interest of the unfortunate social mother and innocent baby.
Unfortunately, by the 90’s some organizations, hospitals, and maternity Homes started selling babies. Hence, the policy had to be discontinued despite its numerous positives and advantages.
The Transition (Ngwa Road Motherless Babies’ Home)
After the Civil War, all the ordinary members of the association became inactive; circumstances surrounding this inactivity include, death as a result of the war, relocation from Aba, pauperization caused by the ravages of the war and loss of interest in caring for the children. With the assistance of the Foundation Member, Mrs. Grace Onuchima, the founding President, Mrs. Nwobbi, remained focused on minding the affairs of the children Providence had entrusted in her care and her determination kept the dreams and vision of the Home alive despite troubled times.
Having overcome the uncertainty of the war which made it impossible to remain at the initial location, the Home eventually found a safe haven on Ngwa Road, Aba. As the association was no longer active, she moved to restructure the Home which called for a change of name. Thus, drawing inspiration from the new location, Ngwa Road, Aba, ‘Ngwa Road Motherless Babies’ Home’ was birthed.
At Ngwa Road Motherless Babies Home, we have a team of like-minded people who share the passion of giving abandoned children another shot at life. These are seasoned professionals from different backgrounds and fields, who feel the pains of these special children and have decided to do something about it.
The executive organ in charge of the administration of the Home is the BOARD OF TRUSTEES. This organ is responsible for the decision making and general administration of the home.
Mrs Joyrita Nwobbi
Architect James Nwobbi
(Managing Partner) Amechie Nwobbi & Associates
Mrs Anne Ibekwe
(State Registered Nurse/Midwife)
Mr Michael Nwobbi
Barrister Reginald Nwobbi
(Principal solicitor) Reginald Nwobbi & Co.
Architect Tony Nwobbi
(Founder/Managing Partner, Design Graphics)
The journey so far has not been without hitches and challenges. Courage and determination have however kept us thriving through trying times.
We have received immeasurable support from some partners; governmental, corporate and individual, without which the adventure would not have been this successful. Some of the Home’s corporate partners include:
Save a Life
Some adoptive parents choose to adopt a child because they are infertile (medically unable to bear children), some may have learned that while they can have a natural child, they are at risk for passing on serious genetic or medical conditions and so choose not to attempt a natural pregnancy. In some other cases, a potential birth mother may not be able to risk a natural pregnancy due to her own health complications and choose adoption over the risk of pregnancy.
There is equally a new trend in adoption these days where parents who already have biological children of their own decide to adopt one or two to add to their number and raise them up as their own children.This new trend usually perpetrated by couples as a way of giving back to society should be fully encouraged as an effective way of reducing the large number of motherless babies and less privileged children in our society roaming the streets hopelessly from one City to the other with its very negative attendant consequences.
Ultimately, the decision for families/qualified individuals to adopt should be based on a belief that they will be saving a child who otherwise would not grow up with the benefits of a loving and supportive family.
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Your gift helps these children reach their God-given potential by providing for their greatest needs – food, safe water, medical care and educational support.
Ngwa Road Motherless Babies’ Home is the first Orphanage in the whole of Eastern region of Nigeria having being commissioned in 1965..
- 79A, Ngwa Road,
Aba, Abia State, Nigeria.
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