WALLINGFORD — A local pastor is looking to raise about $130,000 to build a medical clinic in his hometown of Obike, Nigeria.
Rev. Kingsley Ihejirika, the parochial vicar at Most Holy Trinity Church, said the medical clinic will see people who don’t have regular access to health care.
“In this community, when people get ill, the first thing they do is go to the nearby forest to combine leaves and herbs for self-medication, which often ends in disaster,” Ihejirika said about people his home village. “But sadly, that’s the only care that they can afford.”
Ihejirika began fundraising in November and has raised about $40,000 through various fundraisers in the community. The next fundraiser will be a rummage sale held Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Reinmann Motors and Antiques, 87 S. Colony Road.
“We have just about anything you can think of at the rummage sale,” said Reinmann Motors owner Tom Reinmann, a member of Holy Trinity who has helped Ihejirika with fundraising, along with his wife, Laurie.
Ihejirika travels back to Obike, Nigeria every year on a medical mission trip with a team of about 60 doctors to provide care to the village, which lacks a permanent clinic. Ihejirika said the average life expectancy for people in the community is in the 40s.
“People don’t get sick only twice a year when we do the medical mission,” Ihejirika said. “They get sick all year round, so we thought that the best thing to do was to build a clinic for regular presence.” The clinic is also needed because doctors lack a building to care for patients, so patients are treated in open fields, he added.
Once the building is built, Ihejirika said another organization has pledged to donate $450,000 worth of medical equipment supplies. Local Nigerian doctors have volunteered to work at the clinic year round for free, he added.
“Once they can walk in and see we have a building, we can get the equipment,” Reinmann said. “So the building is the key to this whole thing.”
Ihejirika’s efforts to help his home village began in 2003, when he started a ministry in Obike to help orphans and widows.
Ihejirika said many fathers and husbands in the area are killed by Islamic terrorism or become “victims of an oppressive economic system,” leaving behind “lots of widows and orphans.”
“A lot of them would die out of despair and hopelessness,” he said.
Ihejirika said he decided to “cater to their needs as much as I could” with his ministry after it was founded.
Ihejirika’s own mother died when he was 13 months old, leaving his father to raise him and his four siblings, two of whom are now university professors and the other two have college degrees.
“A lot of people have not been as fortunate as me,” he said. “My father took real good care of me and the rest of my siblings and gave us education. That’s the reason we are who we are. And that’s the same thing I’m trying to advocate for those orphans so we can provide some education to them.”
In 2011, Ihejirika established a nonprofit called, “Divine Mercy International Widows and Orphans Organization,” to raise money for orphans and widows in Obike. The nonprofit donates money to sick and elderly women “with no help whatsoever” and to help pay for for orphans’ food, education and general care. The nonprofit also helps widows receive entrepreneurship training “so they can acquire skills to support themselves.”
“Widows in Nigeria are constantly dehumanized because it’s a system where it’s centered around men, it’s patriarchal,” he said. The nonprofit has helped about 65 widows start small-scale businesses in Nigeria since 2011.
The fundraiser Sunday will raise money for the medical clinic by selling items donated by businesses and residents in the community. Tom Reinmann said he will be donating 100 percent of all proceeds sold from his antique shop. Pig Rig food truck will be set up at the event and will donate a portion of proceeds for the medical clinic.
Ihejirika expressed his appreciation for the support his cause has received from the church and Wallingford community.
“I have deeply been inspired by the Holy Trinity church community and the Wallingford community in general for the overwhelming support,” he said.