By Ayoola Olajide and ‘Tosin Fawemida
It has been observed that slums arise as a failure of governance. Slum dwellers are often the most neglected, marginalized and underserved citizens of any nation. The living conditions are overcrowded and dismal.
Superstition, ignorance, unemployment and illiteracy run rife in the sub-society called Makoko, a sprawling township in Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State, Nigeria. The coastal township inhabited almost exclusively by mainly Ogu (Egun), Yoruba, Benin people lies on the other side of the lagoon separated from the plush glittering wealth of Victoria Island, where life is fun and children face a bright future.
In this setting, the UK-based TunMicro Sickle Cell Foundation (TSCF) brings the message of hope, good health and warnings about the implications of ignorance of genotype.
TSCF is committed to sensitizing the young about the imperative of genotype for their future as parents and guardians.
‘If your genotype is anything but AA, go for a partner whose genotype is AA,’ says UK-licensed phlebotomist and TSCF founder, Olatunji Sule. Sule made this statement on Monday 29th April while declaring open a week-long series of free genotype tests for residents of Makoko. In accordance with the objective of TSCF, the tests are mainly for children – to catch them young.
Sule also underscored the fact that people with sickle cell disorder can live long and productive lives subject to proper medical attention.
TSCF has conducted thousands of free genotype tests around Nigeria, the country with the highest burden of SCD in the world.
The Makoko hb-sensitization project is held in collaboration with Keystone Bank and Slum2School, a non-governmental organization supporting the aims and aspirations of underprivileged children.
Adebimpe Shenbote, a sickle cell ‘warrior’ representing the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF) commented that TSCF and Slum2School had taken a robust educational and enlightening program to the people of Makoko.
Taiwo Adeyemi observed that the awareness atmosphere created by TSCF was impressive and laudable, but was not happy with the sight of children – ‘some as young as four years old’ – waiting for hours on end to be attended to. Stella Adeyemi in turn commended the organizers of the project and advised more hands to facilitate quicker and smoother flow of activities.
Izore Bamawo, Head, Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainable Banking, Keystone Bank congratulated TSCF on creating awareness on the effective management and prevention of SCD. Keystone Bank has demonstrated a keen sense of CSR in allying with a disorder known to affect millions of Nigerians.
The program, taking place within the premises of the Methodist Church, Makoko Circuit, ends May 6.