I learned by… choosing not to see my scars and disfigurations as permanent obstacles – Kechi Okwuchi
When I was finishing up secondary school in 2005, there was a day that it seemed like the world had come to an end. We learnt that a plane carrying young students just like us had crashed. 107 people died in that crash and Kechi Okwuchi was one of two to survive. I have heard so much about Kechi, her strength and how she inspires others. When I learnt of her crowdfunding campaign to fund her MBA, I thought it would be a wonderful time to connect with her. I hope that after reading, you will also contribute to Kechi’s goal of financing her MBA and ultimately working with the United Nations.
First of all, congrats on your graduation from university. How has the process of creating your crowdfunding campaign for your MBA been?
The process was shaky, to be honest. I prayed and prayed about it for almost two months, unsure as to whether or not it was a smart move. So far, however, the number of donations in such a short time and the overwhelmingly positive support has cleared most of my doubts! I’m glad I listened to my heart on this, as well as the voices of many friends and family members.
How did you decide on an MBA, and also on choosing to crowdfund it?
I decided on my MBA a long time ago, back in 2015. I always knew I wanted to pursue Economics fully and go as far as I possibly could. I changed my mind quite a bit over the past year, battling between what would allow me to earn the most income or what would make me truly happy. In the end, I chose the latter.
The decision to crowdfund was, as I said, a difficult one that I couldn’t have had the bravery to choose on my own. I asked God about it so much that I’m sure He grew tired of my pestering Him, haha. As I prayed, I asked my most trusted friends and family members for their opinions, and they were on board way before I was. The final push came from a mentor, and at that point I finally decided to create and publish a GoFundMe page. I also had to decide how I wanted to present myself. I wanted to be as honest and frank about my situation as I possibly could, and I feel that that is what I have accomplished with my page. I’m so thankful for every single donation, I don’t care how small.
You survived a fatal plane crash in Nigeria. I still remember how it seemed like the world had ended that day when we heard the news. How did you feel once you regained consciousness after the crash?
Numb. Just a whole lot of nothing.
When I first opened my eyes in South Africa, I was fully aware of my predicament because my mother had been narrating the events of that fateful day to me on repeat and somehow, in my comatose state, I’d heard her voice. She told me everything about the plane crash, the bad burns, about the fact that I was now in a hospital in South Africa getting emergency treatment… so when I woke up my mind was fully aware, though my body was completely traumatized.
The crash, the losses and the burns sustained changed your life such that your journey after that was markedly different from the typical young person. How did you learn to thrive again?
I guess I would say I learned by… choosing not to see my scars and disfigurations as permanent obstacles. I held on to my faith tightly and refused to let go of God. It took a while for me to learn how to do that but I got there, haha. I prayed and prayed and He gave me the confidence to continue to be myself, come what may. I believe He equipped me with a personality that was pre-built to handle something of this magnitude.
He also gave me an amazing support system in my family and friends, who kept me grounded always. Basically I didn’t do anything alone haha. By myself, I am pretty much powerless. This is something I’ve learned over the years.
I know that your mother and faith have been strong supports for you. I’d love to know how you take care of yourself and more about your support system.
I only recently started taking better care of myself physically haha. Eating right and exercising, this is something I’m currently trying to make a part of my daily routine.
My mental and emotional states, these are things that are much easier for me to care for. As long as I know I have God to listen to all my problems, I feel unburdened most days. My support system comes into play here in a big way. Without my mom, my sister, my dad, my friends, my extended family, I just don’t know how I could’ve possibly made it this far. I am eternally grateful to God that He put such amazingly loving people in my life. I try to present myself as unpretentiously as possible to the world, but it is only with these people that I am truly myself, wholly and comfortably.
Tell us more about what do you hope to do with the MBA and why you are hoping that people can support you financially. (Also, is there a deadline to support you?)
My ultimate goal is to work with the UN, as a part of their Economic and Social Council team. It’s a high goal, but one I wish to pursue nonetheless. I’d like the chance to take part in promoting sustainable development on a global scale. Over the past year I searched for graduate scholarships, foundations and even individual philanthropists who would perhaps invest in me, but I searched in vain. In the end, the decision to put my fate into the hands of kind strangers worked better than any wordy letter I may have sent to any organization.
I want to keep the campaign page open indefinitely until the goal is met. However, should the goal be met with the help of offline donations, I will terminate the account. So far, I have managed to raise enough to pay for this fall semester’s tuition costs, which is just so amazing to me. I still can’t believe how quickly so much was raised!
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I’d just like to thank you for the interview, and for choosing to support me and share my story.
Where can people find/follow you?
Facebook is the easiest and most convenient route:
Thank you again Kechi and I hope all your dreams come true.
Thank you and God bless you