Bus helped Esthella start life in U.S.

Esthella Nne Nsek can recount stories of her past with amazing clarity and detail, down to the exact bus route she was riding at the time.

“If you want to appreciate what you have in life, you need to remember the past that blessed you to get you where you are today. I’ve been successful so far in my life and, for the past 12 years, Omnitrans has played an important role in that.”

Esthella was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents in 1980 and lived here for her first four years. Her father was studying engineering at UCLA and her mother, business management at Woodbury University. When the family returned to Nigeria, it was always her father’s dream that his little girl would one day return to the states as an adult citizen to pursue her education and make a life for herself.

When she turned 19, Esthella did exactly that.  She returned to California and settled in Ontario, where she hoped to establish herself and later bring her husband over to join her. What she didn’t know at the time was that she was pregnant.

“It was very rough being a single young mother and trying to figure everything out on my own. I am so grateful that Omnitrans was available to help me. The drivers were always so friendly and looked after me to make sure I always made the right stop. Whether I was running errands or getting back and forth from work or school, I rode the bus everywhere and learned how to find my way around,” she laughs. “Now I am like a human GPS system. I can tell you how to get just about anywhere!”

Having public transportation available enabled Estella to create a life here for herself and to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.

“I was inspired to go into the medical field with the birth of my first son. I was fortunate to have a wonderful nurse who really took care of me, explained things to me and made me feel comfortable. I was incredibly naïve about health and medicine at the time. In Nigeria, my brother died of asthma because we were not knowledgeable about such things. If I had known CPR, I might have been able to save him. Because of these things, I have pursued an education in nursing. My ultimate dream is become a nurse practitioner and to one day help to create better health care and nursing care for underserved populations.”

Currently Esthella lives in Redlands and temps for ReadyLink Health Care as a registered nurse, providing nursing assistance to hospitals and home care patients. She is also working on a project on dehydration in tube-feeding patients as part of her Bachelor’s degree program.

Her son Nathan is now 12 and a math whiz; his little brother Kafre (meaning “do not forget”) is 8 and has a passion for science. Esthella and her husband have since divorced, and she has been raising the boys alone. For the past several months the two children have been staying with her mother in Nigeria to give her the opportunity to finish her degree.

“I have missed them terribly and am so excited that they are coming home now. I have been decorating their room with posters of baseball, Spiderman, Star Wars and Justin Beiber—I even picked up an Xbox 360 as a surprise gift!”

Although they have loved their time with their grandmother, Esthella says her sons complain about the Nigerian heat and prefer the conveniences of living in the United States.

“Conditions are not always good in Nigeria. Not everyone has a washer and dryer because it takes too much electricity, so most people wash by hand. The boys don’t like that much,” she laughs.

Now that she is finally able to afford her own car, Esthella is still an advocate and occasional user of public transit. She likes knowing the bus is always there as an option.

“Whether you live high or live low, life can be hard but it will always bring new opportunities. It is a blessing,” she smiles. “It is good to know that Omnitrans is always there to help you when you need it.”

-Juno Kughler Carlson

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Email Juno Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org


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