If you close your eyes and listen to Kechi Okwuchi’s beautiful voice during her America’s Got Talent audition, you would never believe that this young woman has been through an experience that most of us would never understand…
Kechi boarded the Sosoliso Port Harcourt bound flight with 108 other people. As the flight prepared to land, something went horribly wrong. Kechi recounts that she heard a screeching noise, like “metal scratching against metal.” She held her friend’s hand, too scared to do or say anything else.
Then there was darkness.
Kechi woke up five weeks later in the Intensive care unit of the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was one of the two people who survived the crash, but that was where the good news ended. She had severe first degree burns all over her body. From that moment, she knew her life would never be the same.
Kechi spent four months in the intensive care unit in Milpark Hospital, followed by another three months in the ward. Then she came back to Nigeria, where she was under the care of SHELL for seven months, before she was moved to America in 2007 for reconstructive surgery. In an interview with tw Magazine in 2010, Kechi described her experience staying in the hospital.
“It tended to get a little depressing, obviously. I missed senior prom, and every other fun thing I could have done with my friends back in Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja. Not a day passed by – not a minute, really – that I didn’t think of the friends I had lost in that plane crash. Then the weekly surgeries, the medications… it took its toll. But to be honest, my friends and family didn’t allow me wallow; everyday someone called or visited. My friends even called me on prom night! It was great; I talked to almost everyone. But when things got especially hard, I learned to pray always, and to trust that He’d see me through whatever.”
Kechi’s voice has captured the world. In her audition for America’s Got Talent, she sang Ed-Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, with a beautiful voice that brought some members of the audience to tears and left the judges stunned. And this is no surprise to us here at tw, because in our interview with Kechi, she told us how important music is to her. When we asked her what her favourite thing to do was, she said it was singing. She also told us that music helped her cope during her rehabilitative surgeries.
But singing is not the only thing this young woman has been up to…
In 2015, she graduated at the top of her class with a First-Class Degree in Economics from the University of Thomas; she also read the commencement speech at her graduation. Her inspiring Ted Talks video – Girl Know Thyself – has been watched over 100,000 on YouTube!
Kechi is true definition of a Survivor. With over 100 reconstructive surgeries till date, she remains standing, refusing to bend to disaster that almost claimed her life. When tw asked her how she manages to keep her self-esteem up despite what happened to her, she said:
“I remind myself when I need to that my situation can only bring me down only if I let it, and that my life is not just mine; I’m living for all those people who lost their lives on that fateful day as well, and they certainly wouldn’t want me to stay mourning forever.”
An avid believer in the importance of prayers, Kechi told us that her favorite quote is, “God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.” This quote perfectly sums up her life: it seemed like there was no way Kechi would have a normal life after the severe burns she sustained as a result of the plane crash, but somehow, God made a way…
Now Kechi has a beautiful fulfilled life, despite her scars, and she has become an inspiration to millions of people around the world.
So, no matter what you are going through, if God can make a way for Kechi Okwuchi, then he the can definitely make a way for you.
Just keep believing…
Were you inspired by Kechi’s story?
Let us know how in the comments section below!