July 20, 2016

Francis Jones Ezeileoba

Francis Jones EzeileobaFrancis (Uchenna) was born in Nigeria in 1972. His origens are from Ezinifite under Awka local government Area in Nnewi , Anambra State. Nigeria is made up of many States and also cultures and Francis was raised under the Christian religion with an Igboculture background.

Francis is the eldest son , having a brothers Desmond (Ananyo), late Vitalis (Obinna), Collins (Ebuka), Cosmas (Nnaemeka), Joachin (Onyebuchi) and sisters Paulina (Chinyere), Vivian (Nchendo), Jesintha (Obinauju).

When he was just 7 years old his mother died and this meant his family was split up, each of them taking a different direction and experiencing different aspects of life. Francis was sent to Imo State to take care of the old mother of a workmate of his father. He worked on the farm helping them to sell the produce from the farm as well as secondhand clothes and shoes.

For two and a half years Francis experienced this harsh life when others would be at school and playing with their friends this little boy grew up knowing a harsher way of life.

After this time Francis was moved again this time to a Chiefs house where even though still a child himself, he looked after other children, did domestic tasks, cleaning, washing and also selling second hand goods for the family. Francis did not have even the basic living standards. Bed to him was the hard floor, next to the Toilet. For nearly three years this was his life but he was able to attend a primary school where he was able to learn to read and write.

When his father remarried, the family was reunited and for the first time at the age of nearly 12, he had the opportunity to go to school in his own town in Nnewi. He went to Saint Michael Primary School and Okongwu Memorial Grammar Secondary School, both in Umudim Nnewi until 1990. Homework was done alongside domestic tasks and helping his father. With his father’s new wife the family expanded with six new siblings which inevitably meant that the financial strain was serious.

As the eldest it fell on him to have to bear the brunt of this and so Francis had to give up his schooling and for the next eight and a half years he worked in Ibadan in Oyo State. Just the fact that he was away from home meant that there was less mouths to feed but for Francis it meant ,no money ,no room of his own ,sleeping in the warehouse of the electricity shop with a cardboard box as storage of his belongings .

Mealtimes did not exist and he got food only if the shop made a sale! He did get some money at Christmas to buy some new clothes. In spite of this hardship and despite not having permission and also running the risk of being punished, every Sunday morning Francis went to Church. One Christmas his father became ill and Francis was allowed to go home. This was a special occasion as during his time at the shop he was only allowed to visit his family twice a year.

Matters started to improve for Francis and after being given a small amount of money he was able to set up his own business and started an electricity shop in Oyo State which was also able to sell second hand goods.

Shortly afterwards he received an invitation to travel to Germany where he stayed for 3 months returning to Nigeria via Spain. This experience opened Francis’ eyes to what his country and country men had to suffer and what the Europeans were able to experience.

Upon his return to Nigeria, Francis made a big decision. He decided to do missionary work and to fight for peace, for human rights, and against the injustice caused by the poverty of so many Nigerians. The poverty which means the lack of basic facilities which the Western World takes for granted; water, hospitals, schools.

To get this message across Francis visited many different churches motivating the people and with a special message to the young because they are the future. His way is peaceful and non confrontational , sending a message of non violence. Francis paid his own way, using his own funds to promote his message, often sleeping on the floor of an uncompleted building or on the floor of the church.

After 3 years, he met a priest from Ghana who worked in the Saint Domenic Catholic Church in Lagos and he is invited to visit the church, where he gets the opportunity to go leave Nigeria and continue his role as a missionary and travel to Europe.

For the first time Francis now has a stable life, visiting so many people , talking to them , helping them set up a micro banking system so that they can start their own businesses and become self reliant. There are occasions where he takes a vehicle from the police to take ill people to hospital never losing the possibility to “preach” his own message but with practical aims such as telling he press about modern transport systems.

He travels to Togo, Ghana, Bokinna Fasa and Cameroon until he arrives in his first European Country , Italy. From there he travels to France with the missionaries to visit Lourdes ,the place where Saint Domenic was buried and then returning to Italy where he has the opportunity to visit Vatican in 2008 and with a group of other missionaries to also meet the Pope. Finally Francis finds himself in Madrid in Spain from where he decides to go to Malaga.

This is where the story begins for the International Black & White Association. In Malaga Francis still has the strong need to do charity work and supports and helps several charities and gives other voluntary services but all the time he has his own dream to create a Charitable Association where people can join to give voluntary help and which stands for peace and unity. Francis is introduced to Wendy Van der Veen from Holland who has lived in Fuengirola for over 28 years and who shares his ideas about respect and tolerance to all different races, cultures and religions. Then together with Jennie Thompson and Chrissie Crawford, Francis’ dream becomes a reality and the IBWA of which Francis is co-founder and President is formed in 2010.