Giving Hope to Stroke Patients through MAID Foundation 

Giving Hope to Stroke Patients through MAID Foundation 

30-year-old Emonena Abenabe, a lawyer and author, is basking in her prime, seven years after surviving a stroke. Through her newly launched foundation, My Ability in Disability, M.A.I.D, she is resiliently inspiring other stroke survivors to live while calling for more stroke centres across Lagos State and Nigeria to save more lives. Rebecca Ejifoma reports

Friday, November 27, 2015 remains a puzzle to Emonena Abenabe who was only 23 years old at that time. While having a jolly good time with her cousins on the island in Lagos state at 8 pm or thereabouts, the lawyer’s world came crumbling down abruptly. While she appeared hale on the outside, Abenabe slipped to the floor, hailing with a stroke.

“Although five hospitals rejected me that night, I chose to be happy, determined to survive even in that sad situation. Struggling with her reality; I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. Here I am today, helping other survivors to tell their stories and spur more to want to live,” the founder expressed rather cheerfully.

With her resolve to help other stroke patients and survivors, thereby reducing the spate of mortality, the young lawyer established her foundation, My Ability in Disability (M.AID) to raise awareness, support low-income survivors financially and inspire them to be optimistic. The maiden edition swung into action on October 29 this year to Mark World Stroke Day on the theme, “Keep the Stroke Out, How to Prevent a Stroke and Life After it”.

Her Stroke Experience

Stroke is very complicated, says Abenabe. “What caused my stroke was a blood clot that came from my heart to my brain on 27th November 2015,” when narrated. “The clot came from my heart to my brain. Before then I was sick with anaemia. I can’t remember the name of the second ailment. But my white blood cell was fighting my red blood cell. I went for a scan and then went back to the hospital. They told me it was DVT Deep Vic Thrombosis. And another blood clot came and I had a stroke.”

With research showing that symptoms of stroke include trouble walking, speaking and understanding and paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, Abenabe maintained that she had none of these. Hence, she still couldn’t fathom how she fell prey to it. “I was not fatigued. My language wasn’t slurred at any time. I just fell.”

On how to react to a stroke incident, Abenabe listed the F.A.S.T acronym which is Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time. “When you see the first three, T says it’s time to call the doctor. But I had none of these symptoms. I just fell,” she cautioned.

Recounting her ordeal, the lawyer was glad St Nicholas hospital took her in. “The first hospital I was rushed to, a private centre, abandoned me in a bed without care. My cousins had to take me out of there the next day. They took me to about five hospitals. LUTH said there was no bed but did a computer tomography (CT) scan. The hospital didn’t want a death rate. St Nicholas hospital took me in. Although I couldn’t walk or talk, the right side of my body was shrinking so badly, that was the beginning of my recovery.”

Self-happiness, Determination is Key to Recovering

When asked about the key factors that contributed to her positive outcome, Abenabe gleefully outlined them. “I’m still recovering. You have to be patient. If you had seen me six years ago, I wouldn’t be like this. I was patient. I knew that I would come out of it. Out of 100 per cent recuperation, I can say I am 85 per cent recovered. I was patient and determined and always happy even though I couldn’t walk. I knew that I would recover. I remember how happy I became at the hospital when I could raise my foot slightly. 

My recovery process has been painful, and joyous and I’m getting stronger. I’m meeting a lot of people. I’ve had people who had strokes. They are surprised that someone like me can be this young with a stroke and still be happy. 

People get to introduce me to their loved ones suffering from stroke, just to motivate them. I’m here for them. I’m here for stroke sufferers. I believe there is a reason I survived the stroke. That’s why I opened the MAID foundation.

There are foundations creating awareness against domestic violence, cancer, and autism, but none that I know for stroke. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death globally. It even deforms you. My right arm was bent before. I like to share the message; if I can recover like this, why can’t you? 

MAID is for Awareness, Support

As an only child who lost her dad in 2009 and her mum to the cold hands of death on 22nd November 2019 during her most challenging moments, Abenabe knew she had to survive. Hence, MAID is made for awareness and to help survivors financially, especially low-income earners. When an average man with kids has a stroke, you know that the income in the family will never be the same. They might become cash straps. Guess what? The first two years of the stroke eat up a lot of your money.

My foundation is out to help stroke survivors who are low-income earners financially. We will always create stroke awareness. You will never know when a person falls and ends up with a stroke. That is why we must learn about FAST. It took 24 hours before I was given proper medical attention when I came down with a stroke. Imagine if my cousins knew that I was having a stroke, they would have taken me to a better centre. The doctors and nurses didn’t know what was wrong with me because every part of me was normal. 

Getting Employment as Stroke Survivor

The young author was left in a sticky situation following the passing on of her mum. “I was sad. But I knew that if I must survive, I must try business. There are no places that employ stroke survivors because of how they walk or something. Besides, I intend to forget a lot due to the stroke. 

The charges for treatment are so much. The government can help. The bill has even increased, it was N6,000 for six sessions before. It’s hard to raise money for physiotherapy. It was because I had good medical attention, that is why I can speak and stand. I couldn’t speak for one year. When I could speak, it took me one year and I was talking gibberish.  

Life After Stroke

I have step-siblings. But I’m the only child of my mum. Imagine me losing her at that time, it was tough. There was a time when I didn’t have a house in Lagos. Look at me now, with my business – I can now take care of myself. 

This has taught me patience. I didn’t know she could start any foundation like this. This is our maiden edition. I’m doing quarterly for now. If I get slots to speak with students weekly, I will gladly do so to intensify awareness. Stroke can happen to anybody. 

About Stroke, Statistics

According to research, a stroke is a medical emergency that damages the brain by interrupting its blood supply. The World Stroke Organisation has warned that stroke has reached epidemic proportions. It says that globally one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. 

While noting that over 110 million people in the world have experienced a stroke, it is estimated that 12.2 million people worldwide will have their first stroke this year and 6.5 million will die as a result.

The foundation also hinted that 60 per cent of strokes happen to people under 70 and 16 per cent happen to those under 50.

Lending Voice to Governments 

To avert the alarming percentage, Abenabe is bent on raising awareness for stroke patients and survivors. “I want to advocate for more stroke centres across Lagos State and Nigeria. Time matters,” she said. “Government should partner stroke foundations and give them easy access. I wish to address students with UNILAG. I get sad when I see young people experiencing a stroke.”

With happiness and resilience as her watchword during her adversity, Abenabe is pleased that she came, she saw and she abysmally conquered a stroke. “Yes, I’m a survivor. I did it. If I can beat it, then you can,” she encouraged.


I want to advocate for more stroke centres across Lagos State and Nigeria. Time matters. Government should partner  stroke foundations and give them easy access…Yes, I’m a survivor. I did it. If I can beat it, then you can

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