She can be mistaken for a student the way she walks briskly to the classroom, if not for absence school uniform on her. On duty, she is a teachers’ teacher, but beyond the class duty, greater burden lay on her slim shoulders.
Meet Bisola Uche-Nwichi (popularly called Mummy Bisola), the lady that is described by many as a ‘called’ teacher, a ‘real’ teacher. This is because of her extra passion, her other silent tasks of burrowing beyond the surface to dig out the real problems her students carry silently.
Some teenaged girls face frequent abuse where they live by relations or their Aunties’ husbands, a situation they will never reveal, but which eats them up. Some teenagers are battling the guilt of masturbation while many are under drug abuse.
Some can’t stop pilfering and tapping money, a scenario that exposes them to disgrace and dehumanization from time to time. The commonest situations are financial.
Often, a real teacher finds a very brilliant student fading or skipping classes. When Mummy Bisola probes deeper, she finds huge financial crisis chewing up the career of the brilliant teenager.
Trying to rescue these teenagers so they can face their studies has created a dual-duty roaster to Mummy Bisola and other ‘called’ teachers.
Now, her other passion, a vocation as childcare and mentor seems to take the better part of her and her name is becoming a household one within Elelenwo and Port Harcourt.
On her birthday last week celebrated in an orphanage (Priesthood Orphanage in Elelenwo) to give motherless children a treat, Mummy Bisola admitted that she often comes across situation with teenagers or kids with needs outside academics.
She also admitted that her mandate is to teach academics but not outside it, and so, it poses a challenge whether to just ignore such ugly situations and teach and walk away or to deviate to find the root of the strange situation.
She retorted: “I meet this situation very often. Real teachers come across several matters beyond their mandate. Th number one is financial matters. I teach in a public school where people come with mixed circumstances.
“People come with baggage (for want of better word). By God’s grace, because of the nature of the ministry (God) assigned to me, so I hear quite a lot of situations; people struggling with addictions, home crisis, abuse both sexually and physically, people struggling with financial situations up to how to even eat. As a person, I have tried.
Sometimes, I have had to escalate to the parents’ level (call them in to say, this is what this child is facing).
“Some even have to do with money. That is what I say I am blessed with people that surround me. Sometimes, I have to raise support for both a child and the family. You don’t have to look at your pocket because God does not look at the size of your pocket but your mind to give. The matter goes beyond the call for academic duty.”
Mummy Bisola is known in her circles as a virtuous woman who gives freely, who rescues the needy, and who will not rest until a situation put in her hand gets solved. That could explain why on her birthdays, she tries to give to orphans, celebrate at orphanages, and does teaching and evangelism to touch lives especially teenagers.
Asked if rescuing derailing teenagers has become the burden of an ‘called’ teacher, Uche-Nwichi totally agreed: “Yes, I like the term, the ‘called’ teacher. You go into a class and prepare your lesson notes and identify the main objectives of a particular lesson, and you also list the subsidiary objectives.
Most times, before the end of a lesson, by the time you do evaluation, you will find that the majority of the students have met both your main and subsidiary objectives.
“But, in this other situation, it is not part of the objectives you listed, but a child is struggling, not because the child does not know. The child has several other distractions or unmet needs which are affecting your main and subsidiary aims. You are not being effectives for a whole lot of other things. Until you identify and tackle these other intrusions, you won’t meet up. But God is helping us.”
The self-imposed social worker said there are issues she just cannot resolve and demands she cannot meet, and it saddens her spirit. “Of course, it is not for us to solve all. It is God that equips us to do what we can do, and the rest we leave to the Holy Spirit to take control. All you do is to plant the seed, and as the child grows, you pray the seed grows along.”
Sometimes, she stated, the efforts work fast, but in some, it takes time to manifest. “It is not easy teaching in public schools but we are doing our best, by God’s grace.”
On what is significant about her 2023 birthday, the mother of three said: “For me, birthday is a time for giving, but many see it as a time for receiving. We celebrate Christmas as the birthing of Jesus Christ and a time to give. So, mine too should be a time to give.”
On what she has received from God to warrant giving, she said: “Plenty! I have received life, the blessings are numerous. God has blessed me. Humans may not see the blessings. The day before my birthday, I usually sit back to count my blessings.
“My family, my spiritual and physical families. God has blessed me with such wonderful people, who genuinely love you, people who got your back. It is not people who have superficial love for you. That is the greatest blessing. People are not celebrating you in your presence but more at the back.
“Apart from the physical blessings in this country, for you to be alive here, to have a roof over your head, afford basic meals. That is the most important. The best of all is; I am a child of God.”
Mummy Bisola said being a child of God is a huge privilege. “I had an encounter with Him early, so God didn’t allow me get lost first. He ensured that I was drawn to Him. Lots of people my age are still wallowing in sin, but God ensured I am in Him. I have had experiences with Him; being alive is one, and being in Him is very important.”
The social worker/evangelist tried to explain how those outside Christ can still feel and recognize the love of God enough to want to come in.
She stated: “There is an emptiness in those who do not know Christ yet. In the university, we heard about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and that needs are insatiable. But when you are in Christ, you experience this feeling of satisfaction. It is only in Christ that you get this feeling. Outside, you see those who have all the money, power, etc, but there is this void in their hearts only being in Christ can fill it.”
She explained why she chose an orphanage to celebrate her birthday: “My calling is basically children, my assignment in life is on children. I am a teacher, that is my secular job. God has expressly told me that He wants me to do this. The very first time I heard from Him concerning my calling was, ‘Partner with me for the Future of the World!’ I said, I hope this is not too big for me, but over the years, He has equipped me.
“Over the years, I have had cause to come here to have different talks with the children, but this time, we came here two weeks ago, and I was looking for a place for reception for my birthday. I had issues with the venue. So, while we were having worship session two weeks ago, the Holy Spirit whispered to my soul, ‘this is your venue’.
Every other venue had failed. God was behind it though I didn’t see that at that point, I thought people were sabotaging it. All things work together for your good to them that love the Lord. That was exactly the situation. I came out and told Brother Jeremey, look, God has given me a venue. It is God that chose this venue, Priesthood Orphanage!”
Sexuality and purity
She said this is an important teaching line for teenagers especially in the present era. “We came here and gave a message on ‘Sexuality and Purity’. This is good topic for teens. We asked them several questions and encouraged them to express themselves, though they initially were not very free. Timidity! Now, they are comfortable expressing themselves. It’s like a mini-debate.
“In the world of today, children need to be taught about sexuality, not to be allowed to pick pieces from other sources. They have to know what exactly to do.
“The world complains that kids are doing bad things, have we actually taught them what is right? It’s not enough to complain that they are not doing the right thing. That is our mission. We teach teenagers the way God wants it, the manual in the Bible. It’s to share with them and let them deeply realise that God loves them even as we love them.”