Two non-governmental organizations, Sickle Cell Advocacy and Management Initiative (SAMI) and Progeny Foundation Nigeria have launched a fund raising project tagged “500 By 1 Million”. The project, which seeks to raise N500 million through a minimum individual donation of N500, will be used to support sickle cell victims in Nigeria.
To kick-start the project, a flash mob launch was held at the Silverbird Galleria in Lagos recently. Speaking at the event, Executive Director, SAMI, Ms Toyin Adesola, said the need to provide support for victims, most of who are usually overwhelmed by huge medical bills, is the main objective of the fund raising initiative.
These two organizations, Adesola added, have a vision of creating awareness and educating Nigerians about Sickle Cell disorder. They also counsel and provide financial and emotional support to victims and their families. "Our experience over the years working with them has shown that they need all the support that the society can provide. Some of the problems they face include huge hospital bills, neglect, societal stigma, ignorance, among others.
“Through our work, we have been exposed to various adversities of victims and their families. Can you imagine a poor family with five children living with sickle cell disorder? How about a woman who was abandoned by her husband because of a child who has the disorder. Some families spend half of their productive time in a year in the hospital catering for their victim-children. These and many more are the predicament of sickle cell sufferers in Nigeria. And there are about 5 million people living with it in this country. That’s why we launch this appeal fund so we could provide medical and material support for poor victims, funds for researches to help advance the chances of proper healthcare or cure, create more awareness and advance treatments,” she added.
For this project, SAMI and Progeny are targeting individuals, because, according to them, an average Nigerian can afford to donate N500 to this cause.
Some beneficiaries of the NGOs benevolence were also on hand at the event to give their testimonies. According to Mrs. Eniola Ajala, “I have two daughters with SCD. If not for SAMI and PROGENY initiative, we would have been homeless. They paid our house rent, made sure we get drugs and we get periodic financial assistance. Without their assistance, life for me and my children would have been miserable.”
On his own part, Mr. Funsho Balogun, “Because of my condition, I could not take on a regular job. I have a wife and son but no means of catering for them. SAMI and PROGENY set me up in photography. They bought all the needed equipment and now I can afford my medical bill and take care of my family.’
Sickle Cell Disorder is a hereditary blood disorder. The disorder is referred to as “sickle” because the normal round red blood cells turn to an abnormal curve or sickle shape called Hemoglobin S. This prevents oxygen from moving easily through the blood vessels. This may lead to extreme pain called ‘crises’, leg ulcers, organ failures, stroke, and blindness, among others.