This month on our Mum of the Month series, we feature an amazingly strong woman! She’s the Founder of The Irede Foundation, a mother, and a wife. Please read on, be encouraged and be inspired!
Please introduce yourself.
I am Crystal Chigbu, a wife, and a mother. I am also the Executive Director of Irede Foundation
What do you love most about motherhood?
Being called “mummie”, the kisses and love I get from my children, they telling me how special I am makes me feel so good.
What do you do and what inspires what you do?
I currently work as the executive director of The IREDE Foundation, we work with children that have been amputated and their families. We help the child amputees have a restoration of hope and provide them with prosthetic limbs which aids integration back into school.
The inspiration came from giving birth to a child that had a congenital limb deformity at birth and she had to be amputated due to that.
What motivated you to start up The Irede Foundation?
Irede was founded out of my personal experience dealing with the reality of having to raise a daughter who was born with malformed limbs and the process and struggles we went through in trying to make a decision on whether to amputate and going through with the process. Seeing other children and families go through the same process without a clear view on how to adapt to the challenges of living with limb loss stirred the embers that has now become the foundation. It is also the reason behind my recent book IREDE an unending story of hope.
Any funny moments as a mother?
When my son was asked to draw his family and he drew a picture of his sister close to him and his dad some few meters away. He labeled them both Beulah and daddy, and he drew me at the bottom of the paper without a label.
That made me feel I wasn’t doing a good job as a mum. I then tried reaching out to him and he said I was so important that the space couldn’t fit.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a mother?
Managing Beulah’s self-esteem when she is exempted from certain sporting events in her school, helping her get used to life every day and coping with questions from kids who wonder at her use of Prosthesis.
How do you stay focused and grounded?
Each day as I get in and hear another story of a child with limb loss and as I see them brought to my office looking despondent and lost, I remind myself that there is a purpose for them and possibly I might be just that little beacon that could help them step out of their pain and sense of hopelessness. Time and again, seeing the happiness radiate from their faces when they take their first steps at walking, you cannot find the words to explain the feeling of those moments and the sense that another life has a chance to compete for life’s opportunities.
Juggling the duties of being a working mum certainly comes with its own challenges, sometimes when I miss out on a homework or school event, a sense of guilt threatens to dampen my spirit but then I have also been blessed with amazing support from my family. I remember my mother’s (My husband’s mum and My mum) stepping in at some point to stand in for me during a missed birthday celebration for Beulah. The fact that they were there eased the pressure and my husband also helps to balance out parenting duties so my motherly duties have been augmented greatly and for that, I am so thankful to God.
What lessons have marriage thought you?
Marriage has taught me to be patient, I used to be so much in a hurry. I had the ‘now-now’ syndrome. I had to learn to be patient because I was frustrated each time I wanted to make a decision and everything had to be considered.
Now it’s a virtue…. I still want it ‘Now Now’ but it can always wait.
How do you relax?
Relaxxxx ! I talk on the phone … watch movies and go window shopping
What is your philosophy of life?
I believe that disability only exists in the mind and that a disabled mind is worse than any physical challenge that a child has to deal with. Once a disabled mind is fixed, there is no limit to the heights that a child can attain.
How do you balance working and family? Does the word “balance” exist?
Mostly knowing the important moments and making efforts to not miss those moments for my husband and my children has been key to managing life day to day. I have also mentioned the importance of having family support and leveraging on that support time to time.
I believe balance does exist, but it comes with being able to understand and differentiate between the priority and the necessary.
What are the three top survival skills Lagos Mums need?
Patience, Planning, and Prioritization
What makes Lagos mums unique?
Motherhood is the same everywhere, what makes a Lagos Mum unique is having to deal daily with the grind, the pressure and the fast pace of life that comes with being a Lagos Mum.
What are some skills you believe children today need to learn? Is it any different from what you needed growing up?
I am deliberate about raising my children to be Godly, respectful, Caring for every person irrespective of their status and recognizing and appreciating the value of working with their hands and maximizing their intellect while doing so.
The difference between my time and theirs is that I did not have to compete with a technological revolution and a fast-paced global information exchange system that challenges some of the skills and values that we held as sacrosanct while growing up.