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Monday, November 11, 2013

Championing the Cause against Sickle Cell Anemia

This inspiring article about my childhood friend Adaora Nwodo was shared with me today. It was published on Telegraph. What a great cause!  It's really an inspiring story about giving back! Kudos to Adaora!
“The thank you I get every time I hand drugs out and pay bills makes me feel so fulfilled,” said Adaora Nwodo, 26, a lady with a big heart and many talents.
Adaora 4Ms Nwodo is a Law graduate from Birmingham City University London, a fashion designer and a wedding planner. A few years ago, she founded the Miss Dee for Sickle Cell Foundation, a nongovernmental organisation which helps people living with sickle cell anemia who cannot afford the treatment to pay their bills and provides them with medication. Despite the challenges she has faced in running the foundation, she has not looked back since.
“I have lived and grown with sickle cell patients around me,” Ms Nwodo said about her motivation to start the foundation. “I have a few family members and friends with the ailment. It’s a very painful and expensive illness. I lost a few people to the ailment and this made me think of what I could do to help the less privileged struggling with this medical condition and also sensitise the general public on the dangers of bringing forth children with this ailment as it is highly avoidable”.
To raise funds for the foundation, Ms Nwodo noted that she and her team members organise various events, one of which is the ‘Fashion For Life’ Fashion Show which has had three successful outings since 2011.
“Fashion for life is an annual fund-raising event organised by Miss Dee for Sickle Cell Foundation,” she said. “It is a fashion and awareness event dedicated to those we have lost to Sickle Cell Anaemia and also a medium for raising funds to help those living with it. This has been held for the past three years in Abuja. It is also an event where we update and show our sponsors and the general public what we have done with funds raised the previous year.”
Other fund raising avenues, she noted, includes random bake sales, sports events, World Sickle Cell Day barbecue, Sing for Life fund-raiser & Talent Hunt and raffle draws which are used to raise funds for the general supply of drugs for registered patients.
“We have conducted education seminars in secondary schools in Abuja on Sickle Cell Anaemia, its triggers, prevention and management,” she said. “Funds raised have been used to supply drugs for people with sickle cell through our help line and also pay hospital bills for sickle cell people that can’t afford it.”
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 100,000 infants die from the sickle-cell genetic disorder in Nigeria every year, and the country still has the highest incidence of the illness in Africa. Nigeria accounts for 75 percent of infant sickle-cell cases in Africa and almost 80 percent of infant deaths from the disease in the continent.
But in the midst of the despair and recurring sad news she hears among people living with sickle cell anaemia, Ms Nwodo recalls the case of one patient identified as Mr Egwungwu whom the foundation raised funds for to go for a successful surgery in India.
“We had to raise about $21,000 for him to go to India for a skin re-grafting surgery,” she said. “It took us about two months to raise it but we did it. He left and had a successful surgery. The joy and appreciation we got from him was all I needed to know we had done something amazing.”
Like many others, Ms Nwodo faces lots of challenges in running her organisation, but she is encouraged every time she touches someone’s life positively. For her, it’s not about the money, but her reward in heaven for affecting her society in a positive way and for bringing joy to many homes.
“To be honest, it’s just the ‘thank you’ I get every time I hand drugs out and pay bills that makes me feel so fulfilled,” she said. “It’s like I am fulfilling God’s plan for me on earth and I’m overjoyed doing this.”
Earlier this year, the Miss Dee for Sickle Cell Foundation was nominated as Philanthropist of the Year at the Abuja Young Entrepreneur Awards 2013 among other recognitions and awards. Ms Nwodo notes that such support and acknowledgement has helped the foundation in their campaign to touch lives positively. Their ultimate target, she says, is to touch even more lives on a wider scale.
” Miss Dee for Sickle Cell Foundation has an ultimate target, which is to build a Sickle Cell Centre in Abuja for free consultation and guidance to those living with the illness and those ignorant of it,” she said. “We are also working on an A’ Class Movie on sickle cell anaemia.”
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