Ifeoma Egwuonwu, a Nigerian nurse, was amazed to discover she was living in the childhood home of the founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Charles Feeney, in New Jersey. It inspired her to read a biography written by Irish journalist, Conor O’Clery, about the philanthropist’s life and his motivation to give away the bulk of his personal fortune for the betterment of humanity.
“I read this book, I felt goosebumps,” Egwuonwu wrote in a 2016 letter to Feeney. “Like your mother, I am a registered nurse raising three children, working ‘double shifts,’ and struggling to pay the bills month to month.” She also sought to follow, in her own way, in Feeney’s footsteps.
In 2010 Egwuonwu founded a non-profit organization, Hope Alive Africa Charities (HAAC), an organization that provides health services in Nigeria. This year, Egwuonwu earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT to better serve this nonprofit organization.
To-date HAAC has treated more than 1,500 villagers with chronic and acute health issues in two villages. Incredibly this includes guaranteed ongoing medication management for 424 hypertension and diabetes patients over the next two years. Left untreated, many of these conditions are life-threatening.
Egwuonwu’s story makes one wonder whether the next inhabitant of the house she called home will continue the tradition of giving.