Posted on September 29, 2017
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When Iyanua Owolabi was born, it was discovered that her blood genotype was SS. All human beings are born with one of four genotypes – AA, AS, SS and AC. Unfortunately, SS (also known as sickle cell) is an abno rmal genotype. Anyone whose parents have the AS genotype has a one in four chance of having the SS genotype. The chances are greatly increased if one or both parents have the SS genotype with a 100% certainty of all children having the SS genotype if both parents are SS. The sickle cell disease manifests itself in its sufferers by episodes of pain usually referred to as a crisis. The pain normally occurs in the legs, arms, ribs, breastbone, spine and pelvis. The pain can be very severe and can be present for up to a week sometimes resulting in hospitalisation. The frequency of these episodes differs per individual, but they can be as regular as every few weeks.
When, at age 11, Iyanu lost her father to a stroke, she was forced to live with her grandmother in inhospitable conditions. Each night, she slept in a building that was left unfinished, without some necessities, including a functional toilet. To be able to fend for Iyanu and her sister, their grandmother sells locally made bread which brings in barely enough therefore Iyanu’s grandmother is unable to afford to buy her school books. To compound it all, the living conditions make the necessary preventative measures of a crisis very difficult to manage and when Iyanu does have a sickle cell crisis, she is unable to get the much-needed treatment to alleviate the painful symptoms. Her grandmother resorts to locally made herbs which offer very little remedy. The combination of both educational and health issues meant that Iyanu was not doing well academically and fell behind in her education.
African Child Trust (ACT) operates in Nigeria and, to date, has helped well over 500 Nigerian students reach their education potential, with many earning places at universities. ACT has been proud to work in Nigeria while it continues to mature into a more modern, stable democracy, opening the door to a new generation of Nigerians seeking a better future for themselves and for future generations. Through educational sponsorship, ACT is working at a grassroots level to make sure young Nigerians are afforded every basic opportunity that their cohorts from around the globe are afforded. ACT believes that barriers like sickle cell cannot allow young Nigerians to be left behind.
Iyanu first encountered ACT two years after her father’s death, when they visited her school. In keeping with their vision of giving disadvantaged children the opportunity to achieve their full potential in life, they recognised Iyanu’s need for support with her educational and health needs, lighting the way forward for a talented young woman. They took on the task of financially sponsoring her education and ensuring she has access the urgently needed medical assistance to minimise the crises occurrences and treat them when they do occur. This support has been of great encouragement to Iyanu both mentally and physically. There has been a marked improvement in her performance in school, and this month she will be moving into junior secondary school. ACT is ready to work with her every step of the way.
In Iyanu’s own words she says, “The support I get from ACT encourages me to study well at school; I am very happy and I say thank you to ACT for all the support. May God bless ACT”.
If you would like to contribute to ACT’s ongoing effort, please click here.