African Community Health Initiative
This article appeared in the Winter, 2019 FON Newsletter
Who Is Queen Obasi? And What Is the ACHI?
by Lynn Cloonan Olson, (10) 64-66
Guns, bombs, friends and relatives killed and others dying of starvation, that was the world Queen Obasi knew as a young child in Amakohia, Imo State, or as we old PCVs knew it, the Eastern Region of Nigeria.
Her father had gone to the U.S. to attend university just before the war started. When he was able to return, he found his wife and children had survived (there was no communication while the war was on), but many cousins and his brother did not. He was devastated to see the horrible conditions left from the war. Fortunately, he found work at R.T. Briscoe, a Japanese company selling Toyotas in Eastern Nigeria. He felt fortunate among so many struggling in poverty. He wanted to help. He had been a teacher and cared about education so he built a school in Amakohia village for college age students who couldn’t afford to go away to university. After he died in 1993 the school was left empty and fell into disrepair.
Meanwhile, Queen went to the School of Nursing in Abba, where she earned a diploma, and she also earned a midwifery degree before meeting Cyprian Obasi. He had recently returned to his home, in the nearby village of Umugolo. He had just completed a degree at the University of Minnesota. He was a poor young man, so when they decided to marry, her father was furious and did not approve. Much later his romantic side showed through when he conceded that she had made a good choice.
After having their first child, a girl, in 1987, Queen and Cyprian came to the U.S. Within 6 months she passed the Nursing Board Exam and was hired by United Hospital in Newark, NJ. Three more babies quickly followed while Queen and Cyprian worked for four years in New Jersey.
Cyprian talked Queen into moving to Minnesota in 1992 where she immediately found work at United Hospital in St. Paul. While working there she earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She was hired as a school nurse but retained her night shifts at United Hospital. In addition to these two jobs she earned a master’s degree in community health.