We screened for breast and cervical cancers to ensure early detection. An eye team was also available to check their vision. We gave out  50 pairs of eyeglasses for women in need. We had a supply of medications, and our medical doctors were on-site to address any complaints and provide prescriptions as needed.

By Christy Anyanwu

Multi-faceted Uri Ngozichukwuka, who holds a Master of Business Administration degree, has traversed a career path that took her through banking and broadcasting. Currently, she consults for state governments on education and mining and other aspects as well. Through her non-governmental organisation, NGO, she held a medical outreach at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos in March, to mark the International Women’s Day, 

The outreach which aligned with the theme of this year’s IWD, Inspiring Inclusion, focused on women with disabilities. In this interview she talks about her career and journey, impacting lives, especially her passion for women with disabilities and lots more.

Tell us more about your last event in Lagos? 

It was the commemoration of International Women’s Day (IWD), and this year’s theme is Inspiring Inclusion. International Women’s Day falls on the 8th of March annually, but the entire of March is dedicated to celebrating women.

Empathy Driven Women International Initiative (EDWIIN) believe that disabled women constitute a special group that deserved inclusion in the celebration. Therefore, we assembled a medical team to address their healthcare needs because their well-being is paramount. We refused to marginalize or overlook them; instead, we provided medical services on-site. During the outreach, we screened them for hypertension, diabetes, hepatitis B, malaria, and oral hygiene. Our dentists who were on ground conducted dental care procedures like scaling and polishing, and our dentists .

Furthermore, we screened for breast and cervical cancer to ensure early detection. An eye team was also available to check their vision. We gave out  50 pairs of eyeglasses for women in need. Unfortunately, due to limited funds, we could only provide assistance to the first 50 individuals required glasses. Additionally, we had a supply of medications, and our medical doctors were on-site to address any complaints and provide prescriptions as needed.

Often, during IWD conferences, the presence of disabled women tends to be overlooked. That’s why we make it a point to reach out to them and celebrate their presence, especially during the medical fair. However, our efforts extend beyond the fair as we offer gifts and other support to ensure their inclusion in society.

This year’s theme, “inspire inclusion,” guides our actions. We ponder on how else we can facilitate inclusion, and one significant aspect we’ve identified is healthcare. Many women with disabilities encounter challenges accessing healthcare services. Therefore, we initiated efforts to include them in health-related activities during the IWD celebration. It was essential to address this aspect of inclusion to ensure their overall well-being and participation in society.

How has it been working with people with disabilities? 

Yes, there is disability law, but its interpretation is quite distant from practical implementation. When discussing inclusion in healthcare, we must acknowledge the significant gaps. For instance, how many hospitals have sign language professionals? Deaf women often struggle to express themselves and access healthcare due to this lack of support.

Similarly, individuals with albinism face challenges, particularly with skin cancer risks. Yet, hospitals rarely cater to the needs of those living with this condition. Moreover, accessibility for wheelchair users in healthcare facilities remains a concern. Additionally, there’s a scarcity of healthcare professionals trained to address the needs of people with disabilities.

Overall, there are numerous hurdles to overcome. Our aim is to raise awareness and prompt action to ensure that these women receive the service-oriented care they deserve. It’s crucial to address these issues comprehensively to promote inclusivity in healthcare.

How many medical personnel were involved in the outreach?

We had approximately 25 doctors on our team, alongside nurses, specialists for cervical and breast cancer screenings, eye doctors, and dentists. For many women, it was their first encounter with dental care, and our dentists were on hand to polish their teeth. We collaborated with the medical association, to ensure ample support from a range of healthcare professionals.

This initiative has been ongoing since 2018, with a specific focus on providing services for women with disabilities, marking our second dedicated event for this demographic. In addition to this, we’ve organized similar health programmes tailored to individuals with albinism. These endeavors involve close collaboration with dermatologists and ophthalmologists, enabling us to deliver specialized medical attention to those in need.

How many people benefited from the outreach?

We had about 500 people in general, among were several women with disabilities

You are a popular voice in broadcasting, seems you are retiring for the young generation? 

I am also exploring my other talents. Currently, I am writing, and my books have the approval of the US Library of Congress. Writing has been a passion of mine for some time now. Additionally, I have a programme on TV called “Sakadelli.” It is centred around an African protagonist with a strong voice, addressing various societal issues. The show delves into everything happening around us, reflecting the perspective of a strong contemporary African woman.

Tell us about your journey to broadcasting? 

Despite spending eight years in banking, which was my background, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that broadcasting was my true calling. After taking a break to have my children, the urge to return to banking arose, but I questioned why I shouldn’t pursue what came naturally to me. That was when I made the pivotal decision to explore broadcasting further.

Getting into MITV marked a turning point. On my very first day, I found myself delivering news, which quickly became my focus. Initially, I immersed myself in news reporting for several months. However, being born from a generation of independent radio producers, my mind brimmed with ideas beyond news reporting. This led me to diversify my portfolio, branching into various segments including morning business reports on Rhythm FM and legal programmes focusing on the Office of the Public Defender.

The expansion of my repertoire didn’t stop there. In addition to business and legal programmes, I ventured into entertainment. With a plethora of competencies at my disposal, simply reading the news felt limiting. Hence, I delved into TV shows, notably pioneering the first reality TV show, A-Z. Subsequently, I established my own company, A to Z Communication, obtaining licenses and becoming a member of AMCON. This step marked a significant milestone in my broadcasting career, providing a platform for further growth and innovation.

You also write, tell us about your books? 

The books I have written are also part of the Sakadelli series. They carry forward the same themes and ideas explored in the television programme. Writing these books has been a fulfilling creative journey for me. They serve as another platform through which I can express my views and connect with readers.

What inspires your TV programme?

We are currently undergoing a rebranding process, thanks to our sponsorship from MTN. This rebranding is necessary because our programme has expanded significantly. Our focus now revolves around the contemporary African woman and the narratives of Africa.

The African woman embodies strength, beauty, energy, humour, bravery, and boldness. She encompasses the roles of a mother and a girl, embodying various facets in one. This multifaceted identity is what we aim to promote and portray through our work.

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Being a newscaster is glamorous, why did you leave? 

Being a newscaster involves reading news, which I personally find boring. I’m a creative individual; I enjoy designing shows, programmes, and writing content. Simply sitting down to deliver the news doesn’t appeal to me. While I respect those who can commit to it long term, it’s not something I can see myself doing indefinitely.

What lessons have you learnt about life?

In my experience, I have come to realize that life’s most beautiful and remarkable aspects are often inexpensive or even free. Simplicity, in my opinion, is paramount. Being authentic and true to oneself is where true beauty and honesty lie. The most genuine and honest things in life are typically straightforward and uncomplicated.

How do you cope with all the things you do? 

I often feel like I’m not doing enough. My prayer usually revolves around not wanting to leave this world without accomplishing everything I’m supposed to do. When I started the NGO, I was incredibly driven; it felt like I was running on pure passion.

I approached it with the mindset of developing content to impact society profoundly. This drive led me to organize events like beauty pageants for the deaf community, curate specialized medical check-ups for people living with albinism, and create extensive training programs for the deaf.

Additionally, I traveled extensively across the country with these initiatives, determined to make a difference wherever I could. Over the past seven years, I’ve worked tirelessly, and we’ve managed to secure a few awards along the way, serving as validation for our efforts.

What prompted you to start dealing with the physically challenged? 

Having a disability often precedes people’s perception of who you are. In my case, despite my disability, I persevered. It took me a decade after secondary school to gain admission to university. During those years, I engaged in various activities, including writing. Despite not having a degree, I maintained confidence in myself. Others, lacking confidence, attempted to belittle me, particularly in professional settings.

Despite my competence, I faced obstacles in career advancement. While others received promotions, I stagnated. This situation was frustrating as I had aspirations I couldn’t pursue. I felt compelled to share my experiences to connect with others facing similar challenges.

You’re wearing multiple hats. How did you come to juggle so many roles?

Immediately, I got into the university, I got married and started having kids. It’s so funny that when I finished, I did not use the degree to do anything. In the year 2013, I did an MBA. I have not done anything with my degree except for setting up my business registry, my media work, and setting up a consultancy.

Right now I consult for state governments on education and mining, various aspects as well. As a consultant, I am multi-faceted. Between education and mining, you can imagine. When you have achieved a certain level of competence, people start to ask, “Can you do this? Can you consult for this?”

When I have a client, I ask what exactly does this client need, what is best for this client, how does this translate to him having a better community, how he is going to get responsible mining. That’s just it.

Tell us about your fashion?

I wear clothes that fit me well and make me feel comfortable. The brand or designer doesn’t matter to me as much as how the clothing looks and feels on my body. As long as an outfit complements my style and appearance, it doesn’t have to be from a high-end designer. Comfort and personal style are more important factors for me when choosing what to wear.