I was reading further on teenage marriage and abuse in Nigeria and came across the story of Ms Amara Blessing-Nwosu who was made to go into early marriage for her father/ family considerations. She was married for 14 years, during which she had four children - two boys and two girls - but the marriage collapsed 5 years ago due to abuse. Amara is now a writer and relationship consultant, counseling young people on relationship and health issues, and managing an NGO, the Dorcas Generation Initiative.
Life as a young girl
I was born in a village – Ihiala, in Anambra State, where I also spent my early years. I attended Community Primary School and Girls High School all in Ihiala before I got married. Thereafter I attended Yaba College of Technology to read Business Administration before I went to the University of Lagos in 2000 to read Curriculum Education.
Her truncated dreams
Before I got married at the age of 17, I got admission to read Medicine and Surgery at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), but my husband then (now ex-husband) stopped me from fulfilling my dream of being a medical doctor.
I was born into a good Christian home. My father is a pastor and had been a pastor for 45 years. I have six siblings, and I am the first daughter and the third child.
I got married at the age of 17, just after leaving secondary school to Mr. Ulasi from Nnewi because they are our family friend. So, it was like being pushed to a total stranger; somebody I knew nothing about. I never enjoyed the marriage from the first day. I did not even know the man because, as a Christian I believe that I should not live with a man before I got married. I got into his house three days to our wedding here in Lagos.
Family’s role in her early marriage
My father initially refused the marriage, but he later agreed in order to protect his relationship with my ex-husband’s family. My former husband’s brother was very close to my father and was always coming to my father for prayer and counseling. My father was just there as their family pastor. So, they pleaded with him to give them his daughter and that was it.
Experience during marriage
In fact my pains started two days after the wedding. While the marriage lasted, there was nothing like happiness. I was in the marriage for 13 years 10 months. I don’t like remembering those years because it was years of miseries and pains. I was dying inside and people were seeing just the wealth, the beautiful cars, the holidays abroad, the treats and all that. It was only my very close friend, who knew what I was going through, but I couldn't tell anybody because of my kind of upbringing. I was brought up to keep my home and was committed to just doing that.
Life as a counselor
People were bringing their own wives for counseling, especially from the church and the estate where we live. People were coming to me with their problems, but I just couldn’t disappoint them. I think God took me through it and brought me out. For me to be alive, without scars on my body, is a miracle. If you look at the things God is using me to do in the lives of women in relationships, you will know that God used that experience to prepare me for the job ahead.
I have four kids-two boys and two girls. They are now with me, because the court gave me custody of the children. I spend about 1.2 million every term for their education because my ex-husband has never contributed anything for the children’s upkeep since we separated about three years ago. I don’t want to fight him. I have decided to take my eyes away from man and focuses on God. God will always make a name for Himself. I have wonderful friends that help out too.
The Dorcas Generation Initiative is something I am passionate about; I always have this soft spot for widows and the less privileged, even when I was still married. I started that between 1998 and1999 when I joined a women fellowship. I was the vice president and later president. In that fellowship, we experienced what is happening in our churches these days - where the rich are separated from the poor. I started wondering why do people turn their backs against the poor people and treat them as if they are animals. I would leave my house to visit them in their houses from one room to the other, putting smiles on their faces.
I remember sometimes during fellowship days, when I would carry them from their homes, because I wanted to create an atmosphere where they know that they deserve better lives and treatment.
That was how it started and they became very close to me and I saw myself bringing them into my house, cook for them, started businesses for some of them, spend time with them, counsel them and give some money.
So, that is how it started and in 2009 some thing happened when I was locked out of my matrimonial home because of a girl friend, who sent my former husband a text message (SMS) that she wanted to become Mrs Ulasi.
When I was locked out, I remembered those women fasted for me for three days. The whole widows fasted and prayed for me for three days. When I heard what they did, I was touched that this women loved me this much to have done that.
When I came out of my marriage, I found myself spending more time with them.
Life after separation
Between 2008 and 2009, I was not my self. With all the sponsored negative publications and everything, I had to withdraw from public engagements. But my mentor, Senator Babafemi Ojodu, encouraged me to start writing then. He also called me and say, this your thing about widows why don’t you make it official since you have passion for this. That is how the Dorcas Generation started
Her new books
The titles of the two books are: Men’s grooming and Women’s grooming. The book is a compilation of my write-ups on relationship, health tips and lots more.
Advise for younger girls
I have a column for singles on facebook , where we discuss a lot of issues bordering on relationships. By the second week of December, I will start a monthly conference for singles as well as a television programme. This is because a lot of things are going wrong when it comes to relationships.
Many are attracted to the wrong things and people get into relationship for the wrong reasons. Ladies should look for a man, whose heart, God had touched. It is not about being spiritual; some
people are spiritual, but their hearts have not been touched by God.
In fact, most very spiritual people do not make good husbands. I tell people to avoid very spiritual men as husband, but rather look for men, who genuinely love God and have conscience.
For women, I tell guys that look at the physical beauty, not get attracted to the wrong thing. It is not about beauty or education; look for women, who have found favour before God.
When I left Unilag and my husband stopped me from working and going for my Masters, I noticed that I have this flair for anything beauty and human body and that is why initially, I wanted to go into Medicine. I later took up interest in setting up a beauty spa centre, called Life Plus Gym and Beauty Spa Ltd.
Plans to remarry
I don’t know how God healed the whole thing. Now I have this kind of heart that there is no room for enmity, malice and bitterness in me. It has really helped me. Bitterness can only keep you down. That is what I tell people that come to me for counseling.
I can re-marry, but I am taking my time, because getting married as a single mother with four children is not easy. It is not about money, in fact to be frank with you, I don’t even want to get married to a rich man again, because I have seen money and I have seen the pains.
If you are married to a rich man, who is your friend, he will treat you well, but I want to get married to a man, who is my friend. And until I get into that level with a man, there is nothing like marriage with me. Getting married is not just about me now, it is also about the children, because I have to get married to a man who will be a father to the children and love them genuinely.
You can find out more about Amara Blessing at her website