Francisca Ukabiala is the pretty and hardworking lady who works as Admin/HR manager at center for values in leadership (cvl) and also doubles as as the executive assistant of Professor Pat Utomi. The very lovable lady of style recently celebrated her 40th birthday in a unique manner ,as she used this medium to educate women on lactation and related subjects.
In this brief encounter with Qismat Yinus at the event ,she speaks about her life,marriage,career,and the purpose behind her birthday party.
Tell me about yourself?
My name is Francisca Ukabiala,I work for center for values in leadership as the Admin/HR manager,and also double as the executive assistant of our C.E.O Professor Pat Utomi.
Why are you celebrating your birthday this way?
I am someone who is fun loving and has a zest for life. I had actually been planning this in my head for the past two years. I think it is a milestone that is worth celebrating. Seven years ago,I had my first son,and like I said at the presentation,I received two gifts -a book by Kathleen Huggins, and an electric breast pump. And as someone who is very curious and inquisitive, I read the book titled "The Nursing Mothers Companion,and applied what was in it. I felt I should share this knowledge with others.I have been using it to help family members and friends, who are lactating, nursing mothers, and pregnant women. I have had this burden for a while and family and friends have been saying, why don't you take this up a notch ,and share that it is indeed possible to exclusively breastfeed a child for six months even as a career woman. So I thought instead of letting it be all about me today,I should give back to the society.
So are you fulfilled by the way the event turned out today?
I am fulfilled, and completely happy. I am over the moon.The event went how I envisaged it. I was able to pass knowledge ,and I am happy that people appreciate the information they got today, and they were able to celebrate with me.
What exactly was the message you wanted to pass across?
I wanted to pass the message that women should not use their career as an excuse not to exclusively breastfeed their children. With determination you can achieve it. It is not an easy task, as you are a mother, wife, friend,and you work. But if you are determined you can give your child the best while at the same time, get fulfillment in your career. So the message is Mother/child health. You can nourish your child with this free gift that God has given.
How has this information helped you personally?
It has helped me because my children are healthy. My mom used to say in Ibo "jisike" which means it takes a lot to be able to do all that I did. I was ready to breastfeed, and ready to give it whatever it took. I would express twice in the office, as I had all the gadgets. When my friends give birth, the first gift they get from me is that book, and I practically want to open their heads to put in that knowledge so they can do right.
What does it mean to "express"?
It means bringing out breast milk from a nursing mother's breast. It can be done manually or by using a machine. There are electronic ones ,which are faster and the manual ones.
So how exactly do you go about it to ensure that the baby is well fed?
Like I said at the presentation, it takes preparation. So during your three months maternity leave,when you have a month to go, you start expressing a lot , and storing in a refrigerator so that even when you are not home, your child can still get that nourishment. Your hubby or caregiver can help feed the child with the stored breast milk, when you are not around.
As a career woman, how do you balance your marriage and career?
It is a lot of hard work. My colleagues have told me "Look madam ,you are trying, but more importantly your husband is trying". Some have actually said "If I were your husband you would have resigned. But thankfully my husband understands me, and let's me be me. He works for the government, so most of the time by 5pm he is home , so we balance it. I am a multi- tasker. I would go shopping once a month.
Any advice to women on how to balance marriage and career?
First of all, maturity is important. Before one decides to get married, they should be mature. Secondly they should know what they want and endeavor to get someone who compliments them ,because love only lasts to a certain point. It takes hardwork to keep a relationship. You have to continually communicate , be yourself, be ready to compromise, but let it be someone who compliments and understands you.
What do you love most about your husband?I love the fact that my husband let's me be me. He let me express myself ,he doesn't try to hold me down. Above all, he is a loving and caring father who provides for his family and children.