I watched the video of Kechi Okwhuchi as she told her story on America’s Got Talent and felt tears pool at the corner of my eyes.
I cried because of how moving her story was, but that was not the main reason I cried. Kechi told her story without any form of self-pity. Covered in scarred tissue, this is one young woman who truly is a SURVIVOR.
I cried also because of how lovely her voice was as she sang Ed Sheeran’s 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud”.
But mostly, I cried because I remembered that plane crash like it was yesterday, even though it’s closer to 12 years now. I was in law school when we heard the news: a Sosoliso plane bound for Port Harcourt from Abuja crashed at Port Harcourt and it had students from Loyola Jesuit college in Abuja (a high school).
I remember having a mental image of parents standing at the Port Harcourt airport, waiting to pick up their kids. The plane lands and promptly bursts into flames. They stand there, helpless, knowing their kids are in there, but there’s nothing they can do. I remember how hard it was for me to understand then, and as a mother of 3 children now, it’s even harder to comprehend.
Everyone on that plane died, except for two people and Kechi Okwuchi is one of those two. But she did not go unscathed. She suffered from multiple burns and had to have over 100 surgeries. She told the judges of America’s Got Talent, “Lying down in the hospital bed with bandages from head to foot. Music was my escape, that’s why it means so much to me.”
Her story is a powerful one, little wonder it’s gone viral. The YouTube video has close to 2 million views since it was posted 5 days ago on June 9, 2017.
That plane crash, which took place when she was only 16 was a tragedy that rocked the city of Port Harcourt, the city where those kids lived and where I now live with my kids. It is one that we will not forget in a hurry.
We are so proud of Kechi and how she’s kept on regardless of all her experiences. We stand with her and will be rooting for her through out this season of America’s Got Talent and through as much of her life as she chooses to share with us.