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Living the Life
Little did she know then that a wheelchair would become a support, but today Ndifreke has risen above the wheelchair and now she chairs her way into the lives of the less privileged through her life transforming impacts. – This is Ms Ndifreke Andrew-Essien, the very first YRK Award winner giving insight into the driving force of her charitable works. The Yemisi Ransome –Kuti (YRK) Leadership Award was established in March 2015 to honor outstanding Nigerians working in the not-for-profit sector who exemplify the leadership ideals of Ms. Yemisi Ransome-Kuti, a civil society activist and founding Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) .
“The accident was absolutely incredible, I never saw it coming” recounted Ndifreke Andrew-Essien in reminisce, who as a young adult in that particular year was on her way to rack up an impressive resume of becoming a medical student at the University of Calabar.
For Ndifreke, year 2002 was a very pleasant year coupled with the fact that she was doing very well in her academics. The day, December 26th, 2002 began with studying, a ritual she had of course grown accustomed to, she then decided to visit friends where at that moment for her it became rather unfortunate that fortune did not smile and met with the never to be forgotten accident even as she boarded a commercial motorcycle on that fateful day.
After two sets of long surgeries (in Tel-Aviv) and being bed-ridden for close to two months, doctors tried to explain nicely the damage that had been done to her back – a burst fracture of spine and that the best surgeries would do, will be to help her sit. “I have had to use a wheel chair ever since and rehabilitate myself to be independent” she confessed.
Independence and resoluteness then became her watchword which propelled the birth of her Foundation Freky Andrew-Essien Care Foundation well known as FAECARE Foundation that has a mission to inspire, motivate and empower creative minds for a better, bright and possible future and going further again with visions to add value to the lives of targeted vulnerable groups with disability and the less privileged in the community and thus creating life changing opportunities for them.
Ms Ndifreke who after the ugly incident could not bear to remain unresourceful, became involved in a lot of volunteering before she began channeling her little energy into FAECARE Foundation hence the achievements which include an annual children’s scholarships to vulnerable children who are out of school and the Hope Again Initiative which is a community based vocational skills which is targeted at female persons with disability.
All of these achievements which are fast becoming a milestone have thus paved way for the recognition of her foundation even in the new ‘hall of diligence and hard work of the YRK Awards coupled with some other international recognition, one of which is the Mandela Washington Fellowship and the recognition which went as far as being able to be part of the 40-member committee who got engaged with the first lady of the United States on issues centered around girl child education.
When asked if she ever felt she would emerge winner of the YRK Awards, she said “I honestly didn’t think I would emerge in the top 10 tackles of winner. Ever since I found myself as part of President Barak Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative and emerged a Mandela Washington Fellow, I advised myself to take advantage of opportunities even when I don’t rate myself high or feel worthy. When I received the detail via email of YRK awards, I was actually in Ghana on a 6-month internship program at an International –NGO. I think I received at least two mails before I decided to apply. My general thought was that for sure someone in Lagos or Abuja would definitely get it not me far and somewhere busy doing my thing in Rivers state…basically I was thrilled when I got the mail that I had made top 3 and was definitely shocked when I was announced winner during the NNNGO’s conference”.
Ms Ndifreke who did not fail to acknowledge the giant and huge step of the organizers of the YRK Leadership Award pledged never to relent nor fail in this worthy course but that the award would serve as a boost to intensify more efforts and dedication in the third sector both as an individual and as an organization. She further stated that she hopes to increase her circle of influence and encourage more youths into selfless service which has its own reward system which may not necessarily be monetary. “The YRK Award is a motivation to continue on the path I am on and strive for improvement and development” she concluded.