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I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa

I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
Brief introduction
My name is Rev. Mrs. Laurie Osariemen Idahosa, I am the wife of Bishop Feb Idahosa (the only son of the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa), a mother of 3 gorgeous boys, the Senior Pastor of CGMi Church Unusual, the Proprietress of Big Ben's Children's Hospital and of Nathan American Academy in Benin City, Nigeria. I am also the Director of Campus Life at Benson Idahosa University, where I have worked for the past 12years.I oversee all of the non-academic activities of students in the University which includes student leadership, the hostels, cafeteria, sports events, student health care, and spiritual life.

What do you like about what you do?
The thing that I like about my role as the Director of Campus Life is that I get to impact students lives. In the class room there is a limited amount of impact that you can have because you are lecturing on a particular subject but one of the things we hope to achieve in our University is to graduate students that are worthy both in character and learning.



I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
The character side of graduating our students is mainly our responsibility in Campus Life Division; though in the actual sense it is the responsibility of every University Staff, but we are the ones that have direct input into the student’s character moulding process. So I think it is a privilege to be instrumental in the moulding and shaping of young people's character which is in line with our aim; to develop our students to change Nigeria. If their characters are not properly developed, then they are only going to replicate what they have seen previous leaders do but when we change the character, mindset, psyche, moral and values of a person and they go to occupy certain positions or offices; be it political or regular jobs then you find that they approach things differently and bring about the change in society that all of us are looking for. So it's a privilege to be able to work on moulding the character of people.

How does it feel being a Nigerian?
I am actually still working on becoming a full pledged Nigerian as I am still a resident. I think of Nigeria as home and so for me, when I'm asked the question, "How is it living in Nigeria?” it's somewhat of a strange question to me. Do people ask you, "How is it living at Home?", It sounds weird too, right? Reason being, home is where my family is, my life is, my job is and my vision is. My dreams are so attached to Nigeria because it is my home!
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
I have always felt this way about Nigeria even when I was a young girl. The first time I came to Nigeria, I was 11years old and on a missionary trip with my parents; our first place of visit was the city of Enugu (when Enugu was still under Anambra State) on leaving Nigeria, my mum jotted in her journal that I was crying as I got on the airplane back to the States saying "I don't want to leave, Nigeria is my home, I don't want to leave Nigeria". This was 2years before I met the Idahosa family and I already knew Nigeria was my home. In 2002, I married the love of my life, FEB Idahosa who I had met when I was 13years and he helped me to make Nigeria my permanent home because once you marry into a country that becomes part of who you are. (Smiles).

Challenges you faced settling in Nigeria?
Amongst the challenges I faced was building friendships; I started my life in Nigeria as a new wife and there were a lot of people coming round and offering felicitations. At the time I thought the only thing I will ever say was “thank you” because people just kept saying “congratulations” and “welcome” over and over. I remember almost 3months living here (Nigeria) and I was just so tired of saying ‘thank you, ma” “thank you, sir”. I wondered if anyone would really care about me, will I be able to build meaningful friendship here in Nigeria. Within my first couple of years, I am glad to say that I was able to build very close relationships with several people. Most of those earlier friendships bonds are still very strong today, after over 10years and I hold them dearly in my heart.
Another challenge I had when I came here was living in the family house. I got married and moved directly into the Idahosa family house not my own personal house. This was a challenge for me, as before I was married, I was very independent and I owned and lived in my own home. To go from very an independent, self-sustaining life style to now moving into a family house was difficult for me but I thank God that my husband and I were able to build our own home in a very short period of time and then I think it was about eight months after marriage we were able to move into our own house. I think for me my marriage life really started then because I was able to establish myself, cater for my own guests, and set my own home culture. Being in our own home helped me stabilize.

Quiet recently, your tweets on Cross Culture Marriage were picked and highlighted on by a famous Nigerian Blogger. Can you tell us a bit more about these tweets?
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural-Marriage tweet to go as far as they went; I think the last time someone counted for me, it was on 98 blogs (as of the month the interview was done, May, 2015). I was just sharing about some experiences that I have had in being married to somebody that is not from the same culture as I am.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
The Marriage institution in itself has a lot of ups and downs but when you add the extra elements of marrying somebody from a different culture and then moving into their own country, it becomes an interesting, unique, funny, challenging and enlightening pot of experiences. So, I have been sharing those experiences on twitter and apparently people wanted to listen. I think God has an interesting way of doing things because the goal of each of our lives should be to bring people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and reconcile men back to God and so the joy I have is that as various people read my posts on the various social media platforms I am using, it as an opportunity to indirectly deliver the salvation message, the message of Christianity, of a Godly home and of right living. I don't think that all messages should necessarily be in your face but you can show somebody they can have a successful home, that they can have joy in their families, that if they are from two different cultures that it can work.
A lot of marriages in the world not just Nigeria, more so in the western world are not working. Marriages are faced with so many challenges as is evident by the rise in divorce rates; a likely reason is that individuals have not fully embraced themselves before trying to become one with another, it’s kind of like, I live my life and you live your life and we come together after 6.00pm when we get home from work. However, when you truly embrace one another and you say like Ruth said “Your people, will be my people” then you will find that the cohesive bond is a lot deeper and that is one of the messages that I believe God has given me to share with families and women that they can have a successful home.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
Although, I only have 13years of experience in my marriage, we have been through a lot in that period: losing our first son, infertility, financial issues, clash of culture etc. So you see marriage isn’t always smooth sailing. What has made the difference in my marriage is being a part of a good team, having the right foundation and building my marriage on the strong rock which is Jesus Christ. I believe God can use any platform to show how a home can work and I am honoured to share mine in furtherance of The Gospel and building homes.

Tell us about the projects you have executed so far
The story of the biggest project I am into currently; I will rather call it a calling than a project: it was back in July 2007, when my husband and I lost our first child. I looked at the situation surrounding the death of my first son; he was born full term, born in America where we had all the facilities and even had a helicopter on standby to transport him to a better facility in case of emergency even though we were in a good hospital, yet he still died. This incident developed a passion in the heart of my husband and me.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
If we could lose our son in America where you have hospitals with advanced facilities, how much more in Nigeria, the infant and maternal mortality rate is through the roof .The Lord gave us a passion to make a difference in the area of pediatric and maternal care and so immediately when we came back to Nigeria, what we did was to work on the legacy of our first son (Benson Idahosa III) by opening a women and children hospital called BIG BEN CHILDREN HOSPITAL. It was opened in 2011, and is currently an extra unit in the Faith Mediplex Hospital, Benin City. We currently have a well-equipped neonatal, labour and delivery ward that is the only one of its kind in Benin City.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
We also have very good pediatricians, and other good facilities, but we are only in phase one, for the next phase The Lord has given me a clear vision back in August of last year on how to run phase two, so I have been meeting with various specialists and putting together a team of people to work on the next phase that will hopefully be a model which will be able to take maternal and child care in Benin City to the next level, and change the maternal and infant mortality rate in Benin City. In turn we hope it will be a model for other cities in Nigeria and outside Africa on how to handle pregnancy, delivery and the first year of a child’s life.That’s my biggest passion and the work I do outside of my job (what I have an ultimate calling for). So many miracles have come through what we have started (BBCH) but I don’t think we have seen the whole manifestation of the vision yet.



Tell us about the displaced children from the North project you took on
I have always had a passion for children all my life, back before I was married I was a foster mother; I took in children that were abandoned and displaced children and I raised in my home. It has always been something that has been a big part of my life. Since staying in Nigeria, I have taken in different children, supported them and helped them get into an orphanage and help their parents settle. I used to tell my parents that I wanted to have ten children when I get married, but now that I have had four I think its okay and God can give me the rest in some other ways (Laughs).

I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
For the displaced children in the North, it’s kind of an interesting story because I was attending a Christian Women Fellowship International (CWFI) meeting and one of the executives mentioned she learnt there was a refugee camp for the displaced children from the North. I texted her right in the meeting to know when she was going so I could follow, so we made arrangements and on Monday (because the meeting was on a firday) we went with some clothes, bags of rice etc and as at that time they were about 800 children that had come down from the North, whom were mostly Hausa speaking. You could see some of them still on their school uniforms the day they fled from their communities, most of them were on bare feet, the accommodation situation was very poor, children were sleeping under the rain and sky, they didn’t have mat to sleep on, they didn’t have bucket to bath, their eating situation, their education and their health care was quite poor. 
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
I just looked at the camp and realized that we need to do something, and Church of God Mission is really in the best position to help out in a situation like this because we have resources like The Word of Faith Group of Schools that can help with the children education, resources like The Faith Mediplex and BBCH that can come in and help with children’s health care and we have many concerned members of our Churches that will be willing to help with their feeding. I took it up as a responsibility upon myself to make sure the camp does not go unattended to and by the next day we sent in people to go and verify the exact level of the need because we didn’t want a situation where they are telling us one thing and there is something else so we sent people in to do some basic assessment.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
They spent the night in the camp, did some one-on-one video interview with the children to find out what each child’s story was like; you can find the video interviews where straight interviews were done to find out what these kids went through, and how they got to where they are now. Some of their stories were just heart breaking; we also did some verification in various ways and by the next day we started taking loads of things down to the camp, we bought mat for all the children, they didn’t have bowls to eat from, they didn’t have spoons and we made sure we took care of their immediate needs first and then from there we have been supporting the children very regularly and held major programs with them.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
Then they fed once a day but now they feed thrice a day, before now none of them had books now all of them have text books and note books and we are working with others on building a school for the children. There has been a lot we have been able to do through the support and donations of various individuals in whose heart God has placed a burden for the children, and I believe God used me to help bring awareness to the camp, and as we were able to bring the awareness, Faith Mediplex Hospital came in and put a medical card for every child in the camp. So whenever a Doctor comes in (a missionary doctor or any that wants to do something for the kids) they now have medical history for the kids. Recently 91 of the children had chicken pox and we were able to go in with a team from the Global Bishopric of the Church and provided Calamine Lotion and medication for those 91 kids. Every child (1,900 and more because more keep coming in from the north) has 12 note books now for school and a back pack to go with to prevent theft and protect these materials from damage.



I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
Through some missionaries that came from Niger we were able to put a volley ball court up for the kids and through the Church where I Pastor (Church of God Mission, Church Unusual) we bought them volley balls, footballs, skipping ropes, through a program we held for them so they could keep their mind off the trauma they have been through. We are committed to this camp and others.

Tell us about living in Nigeria
Nigeria is a beautiful place to live in, and also a beautiful place to raise your family. The thing I love about raising my family here is the culture, the culture that your child is everyone’s child and so I don’t have to be the only person that brings correction, discipline and guidance to my children and in a very wholesome way they care about your kids and I find out it’s not just my kids because they are the Idahosa children but all kids. I also see that all parents have a very beautiful experience here by the community helping to raise their children, though it’s your responsibility as a parent, but the Nigerian community really loves children.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
It’s a great place to live, I found out that Nigerians are very warm, loving and caring people, people get sometimes turned off by the harsh face that Nigerians might have or their language; I remember there was a time I used to think all Nigerians did was to shout because they are very animated and expressive and I had to get to the place where I realized that this wasn’t shouting rather excitement; a mode of communication. So when you understand the culture you will know this is a very great place to live.
There are challenges living in Nigeria but the benefits outweigh the challenges and I think one of the biggest challenges that people abroad see is security, but it’s not as bad as it is being portrayed to be.
I didn't expect my Cross Cultural Marriage tweet to go as far as they went- Laurie Idahosa
We thank God for divine protection because it is God that protects us and it is God that protects you anywhere in the world. Security is a problem anywhere in the world and not just in Nigeria. Ultimately, when you are in the God’s will, you will be secured anywhere you live.

ad Tell us about your set goals; personally, for BIU and your Projects
First of all I am a Pastor; I pastor Church of God Mission, Church Unusual. It’s my desire to see the Church be the Light set upon a Hill, to see the Church have a major impact on society that the church isn’t just a place to go and fellowship with other believers, for God to use us as a voice in our community to help change and transform society through the Gospel. My vision for Benson Idahosa University is in line with the co-operate vision of the University that we will be within the top 10 University of the world. That is a long term vision. It’s not something we expect to accomplish within the next 5, 10 or even 20years but there are deliberate steps we are taking towards ensuring the University is top class; 1st in Nigeria and then we will be able to start taking over Africa then we can start looking at being a global University that has a global recognition and we have a vision attached to that and are also taking deliberate steps to accomplish that vision. For my husband and I, our personal vision for Big Ben Children Hospital, we really believe that God will give this vision the capacity to change the Infant and maternity mortality rate in Africa and I believe HE has given us a plan and formula. Though it will require lots of funding but I have come to realize that whenever God gives a vision He always makes a provision for it.

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