By Vincent Ujumadu
TEARS of joy flowed freely at the Home for the Mentally Challenged located at Nteje in Oyi local government area of Anambra State when the First Lady of the state, Mrs. Ebelechukwu Obiano reunited a 72-year-old woman, Mrs. Rose Anene, presumed dead 35 years ago, with her family.
Mrs. Anene, who hails from Umudioka Village in Awka, reportedly, left her home in 1983 following an alleged spell that resulted in depression and mental challenge. At the time she disappeared, the woman left behind five young children, all of whom are now grown ups.
In 2004, however, she was picked up from Lagos and subsequently brought home and admitted at the Nteje mental facility established by the Caring Family Enhancement Initiative (CAFÉ), a non-governmental organization, NGO, founded by Mrs. Obiano and managed in collaboration with the state Ministry of Social Welfare, Children and Women Affairs. The state Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr Victoria Chikwelu, said Mrs. Obiano took special interest in the woman, adding that it was only four days ago that the First Lady ordered that Anene be reunited with her family in Awka, having been certified fit.
“Upon Mrs. Anene’s miraculous revelation that she hailed from Awka, we had to traverse the length and breadth of Awka before we could link her up with her children at Umudioka, Awka”, Chikwelu said.
“Initially, Mrs. Anene was identified as Yoruba in the home because she spoke only Yoruba, until her recovery when started speaking Igbo. The recovery and remembrance of her husband’s village in Awka was astonishing and she later led officials of the mental home to meet her family members”.
First son of Mrs. Anene, Mr. Chukwudi Anene, 41,who was six years old when his mother left home, thanked God that he is alive with his siblings to see their mother back home, regretting, however, that their father was no long alive to witness the miracle.
He revealed that previous efforts to trace their mother when they grew up proved abortive, and thanked Mrs. Obiano for wiping their tears by treating and reuniting them with their mother and prayed that God would continue to bless her.
Mrs. Anene’s first daughter, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Uzozie, went down memory lane on their ugly experiences growing up without their mother and promised that they would take good care of her to ensure she enjoyed her remaining years on earth.
The Transition Committee Chairman of Awka South Local Government, Mr. Leo Nwubah, promised to ensure that Mrs Anene was totally reintegrated into the society and protected from stigmatization.
After a formal handover of Mrs. Anene to her family, Mrs. Obiano presented a sewing machine, some clothes and an unspecified amount of money to enable her start a tailoring business in her home.
Mrs. Anene was among 12 inmates made up of eight women and four men, discharged at the same time, with Mrs. Obiano expressing delight that the Nteje Home for the Mentally Challenged was fast realizing its objective with the recovery and discharge of many inmates.