“When life gives you lemons, use them to make lemonade”, is an old proverb used to encourage someone in the face of adversity. We all know lemons are sour and represent life’s challenges, whereas lemonade is sweet and represents facing life’s challenges and turning them into something positive.
In other words, turn the negative in your life to positive and that’s probably what Kechi Okwuchi has done with her life after surviving a plane crash that left her unrecognizable with 3rd degree burns.
31 years old Kechi Okwuchi was one of the two survivors of the Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 that crashed on December 10, 2005, claiming 107 lives, 60 of which were her school mates from Loyola Jesuit College and the popular Television preacher, Pastor Bimbo Odukoya. The crash occurred 20 minutes to landing on her way back to Port Harcourt for Christmas holiday alongside with other students from her school, Loyola Jesuit College.
She received third degree burns over 65% of her body, especially on her face and was given a 30% chance of survival.
She was air-lifted to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa for medical treatment and later to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, Texas, United States where she did over a hundred reconstructive surgeries.
During her long recovery, three things kept Okwuchi: her Christian faith, her mom and music. While she was in a medically induced coma, her mom would sit by her bedside and sing to her, she remembers. When her mom had to leave, she would put on CDs from Okwuchi's favorite bands.
Finding faith and her voice
As she recovered, she noticed something different in her voice. According to her, "The first time I opened my mouth and started singing, my mom looked at me and said, 'Have you always sounded this way?' I had no clue what happened but my voice had changed significantly after the accident," Okwuchi said, adding, "I could sing more confidently. I was just happy that I had this one good thing that had come out of this horrible tragedy." She did at least 100 surgeries just to look the way she does today.
She eventually moved to America in 2007 for reconstructive surgery. She resumed high school in 2009 and then went on to University of St. Thomas, Houston, where graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Economics. She was actually the best in her class. She began to sing and perform at her church, at Burns and Trauma fundraisers and galas, and at family events, sharing what she loved with those she wanted to inspire.
One of her friends, however, thought she was ready for the bigger stage and applied for her to audition for the TV talent competition "America's Got Talent."
In 2017, she appeared on the show and made it all the way to the finals by impressing millions of viewers and the show’s judges including Simon Cowell who gave her the golden buzzer. It was an opportunity that changed the course of her life.
That was how Kechi turned the lemons life gave her to lemonades! She didn’t go into a pity-party or allowed people to feel sorry for her. Instead, she went on to become an inspiration to a lot of people.
Since then, she has gone ahead to sing the America’s National Anthem at sporting events, performed all over the US, South Korea and even back home in Nigeria. But she says the thing that means the most to her is being able to share her life mantra with fellow burn and trauma survivors: “Your scars do not define you”!
Becoming a finalist on America’s Got Talent 2017 was Kechi’s dream realized, and on June 10th 2018, she released her first ever single, ‘Don’t You Dare’ on all music platforms. She’s now a traveling artiste, inspirational speaker and burn survivor advocate for multiple burn survivor organizations, including Shriners Burns Hospitals. Kechi have now chosen to forge ahead on a path that allows her to explore both business and artistic opportunities life brings to her. She has indeed turned her lemons to lemonades and even made profit out of it!
In all she went through in life, Kechi didn’t allow her burns to stop her from reaching for greatness. Today she’s recognized all over the world both as a singer and a motivational speaker.
She is a true inspiration to young girls and all those who might have gone through dreadful things in life never to give up on their dreams.
See how beautiful she looked before the plane crash:
Her beautiful fashion styles
Despite her 3rd degree burns, Kechi is unashamed of her body. She loves to keep abreast with fashion trends and always looks good in whatever she wears.
Kechi is proof that what was once broken can still be beautiful!
Scroll down to see 25 lovely pictures that shows Kechi Okwuchi really has the swag despite her flaws:
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