Category Archives: Epilepsy Advocacy

About this weekend P1


Hello world, so you should all guess by now that this area girl with these different auras knows how to enjoy herself. So far, my weekend has been a mix of rest, fun and work on my company. The P2 will be about the second event we are hosting today. And oh the pictures seem to read from last to first… Eg last one is my arrival at the mountain village, next one is the mountain, then my being invited to the national radio impromptu to talk about the Gbm Foundation (7 am and it was damn cold), fourth one is huge breakfast offered by my Co-Founder (asap after the show) and finally hiking and team building (that afternoon – Saturday). When I got back home by 6 pm, I went straight to bed until 4 am this Sunday morning…

Till then, enjoy… and take care of yourselves; we all got but one way tickets to through this journey of life

The enlarged medical mission kicks off today: Wish me well


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Support us and share the campaign

So DDay for the medical mission is here and we are estimating to help 1000 beneficiaries.

I am hoping to coordinate to the best of ability and delegate as much as possible too. We have 10 volunteers and our Executive Director came in from the US with some medications and volunteers.

Wish me well o, I wouldn’t send juju your way 🙂

traditional dancers

If any of you wants to check out more about my village other than juju stuff, here is a link:

GO FUND US: SUPPORT AND SHARE OUR CAMPAIGN FOR EPILEPSY & MENTAL WELLBEING


 

Support us and share the campaign

 

Dear all,

It’s that time of the year again and our foundation is organizing an enlarged medical mission to it’s pilot area in the Lebialem division for epilepsy, diabetes, mental illness and al.
I am appealing to you to support our Gofundme camapign by making any donation you can.
You can equally share the campaign with your networks. Here is the link:
Thanking you so much in advance for your generosity and wishing you all the best of the season.

I submitted an abstract to the African Epilepsy Congress; and guess what…


 

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Mum presenting the foundation at its launch in December 2014

Hello World,

This week starts off great for me – & us at the Gbm Foundation, it is one full of anticipation. Last thursday at precisely 20.35 pm, I saw an email notifcation from the International Burreau for Epilepsy captioned: Re your abstract… Well, I didn’t want ‘bad’ news just before sleeping – I took a deeep breathe, prayed and slept…

Next morning after an intense workout, it dawned on me it could very well be an acceptance of the abstract I submitted… I started singing songs of praise because I had hesitated submitting an abstract in the first place – am no researcher nor scientist you know.

Dear Marie Angele Abanga,

We are pleased to inform you that the abstract you submitted to the 3rd African Epilepsy Congress 2017, with the title “The Need for Epilepsy Mobile Clinics to Plug the Knowledge Gap in Rural Settings”, has been accepted… (What else did I need to blow up?)

Kindly read the blog post I did on the foundation’s blog this am, and follow us there to support our work. I thank all here and everwhere else who already support us and me most especially in any & everyway.

I hope my journey with the foundation and my other endeavours like weight loss, inspire and motivate us all not to give up on our projects. We need to continue our various advocacies especially for delicate, sensitive and largely marginalized causes like Epilepsy awareness and mental illness care regardless of the fact that sometimes life is really simply weird.

STIGMA: The Script’s Synopsis P2


Hello world, pursuant to P1, here is P2:

…This is actually the setting into which Precious, Victor and Mercy are born to papa Thomas and mami Maria. Papa Thomas is a doubting Christian who has fallen out with the church because he insists on wanting to take a second wife since mami Maria has so far giving him only one child (He refuses to count the first two sick children as his). He has surnamed this third child Mercy and although she is only a girl meaning of not so much value to him, he desperately needs the ancestors or God to have mercy on her and spare her from the ‘badluck’ of her siblings.

The movie takes us through the traumatic ordeal of Precious and Victor, an ordeal which begins at home and ends up in school. They are at first taken by their parents to the traditional healer where they undergo near fatal and highly superstitious practices in a bid to rid them of the ‘curse’ source of the badluck, and when the procedure fails, they are dragged to the church with the hope that the reverend father will exorcise the demons in them.

The movie also brings out the guilt, burden and pain mothers feel and bear throughout such ordeals. In our case, mami Maria the mother of the sick children, bears it all bravely, leaving no stone unturned to get her husband to change his staunch traditional mentality and try out the ‘whiteman’s medication’ for once. It is she who when at her stall sees the NGO’s sensitization posters, pleads desperately with her husband that they go to the mission hospital and attend their presentation to learn some more. She equally plead with the catechist to come talk to her husband mindful of his disapproval of papa Thomas’s penchant for polygamy. The catechist’s visit leads to their being received by the reverend Priest. Reverend Fada as he is calls, seizes the opportunity to dismiss all what has been said at the village square and the traditional healer as false beliefs/practices; nothing more.

The lives of Precious and Victor henceforth take a dramatic turn for the better once reverend Fada refers them to the mission hospital. He knows that help can be found at a hospital because his cook’s child who suffers from what he refers to as epilepsy, gets a lot of help from the hospital in the nearby village.

Precious is almost denied a chance at the ‘whiteman medication’ when her father papa Thomas grumbles that he doesn’t have money to take two children there. He will rather take the boy and leave the girl to end up which ever way. Her dear mother steps in again by bringing out her savings. There is no way mami Maria can let her husband blatantly and viciously discriminate against her two sick children because one is a girl and to him of little value, while the boy a younger sibling deserves all the chances at getting better.

At the hospital, the children are registered for consultation by the neurologist who comes during the medical missions organized by the NGO. This NGO which has been working on the field for barely two years now, has indeed been able to secure the personal support of one of the few neurologists in the region. The Neurologist they are told brings a special machine to test the brains of the selected patients so as to know the exact type of the brain disorder they suffer from, and to be able to prescribe medication which can prevent the fainting or seizures as the attacks are called in the hospital. The God sent NGO has also brought some subsidized medication which thanks to mami Maria’s savings, the family can afford.

All is well that ends well, at last the children can now go to school. Another exciting news is that they don’t have to fear the reaction of their teachers and fellow students if they have a seizure in school because the NGO has also brought handbooks about epilepsy for the teachers. The teachers will be trained and they will in turn teach the students on what to do if a friend is having a seizure. The NGO is even sponsoring the Fon’s Football Cup tournament (among other projects), so that through the sponsorship they can sensitize the entire community on the brain disorder and advocate for a change in mentality towards persons living with epilepsy – thus fighting against stigma. Epilepsy they emphasize is not contagious and so people will stop running away and shaming them when they are having a seizure. Epilepsy they even add can be cured and prevented. All this is so new, it makes the news in the whole village.

In the end, Precious and Victor become heros in their village. Their story is reported in the local newspaper and the NGO tells them they will be taken to the city to share their story. Soon, many other parents stop hiding their sick children at home, they take them to the hospital and write down their names so that they will be selected and called back when the NGO organizes another medical mission….

Stay nearby for P 3 next week and thanks for all the support

STIGMA: The Script’s Synopsis P1


stigma

Hello World and happy Thanksgiving in advance to my Americanas… 

Ok, I am constantly on the go and shared with you here recently how I was reinventing myself . I am a passionate woman there is no doubt about that… I received so many talents from My Almighty Father and just realized I have to do my best with those for his Greater Glory and the service of mankind. Here is the synopsis to the script I just finished writing for a movie to be titled: STIGMA…

STIGMA: What comes to mind? Shame; humiliation; embarrassment; rejection; abuse; and all other such negative words. We at the Gbm Foundation have thought about a much more virtual, vocal and poignant way to step up our fight against the stigma surrounding persons living with epilepsy and those affected by their conditions such as their families and extended circles of interaction like their schools, churches and communities.

This movie revolves around two children called Precious and Victor who live with epilepsy although wrongly understood simply as fainting fits by all in their community. Their suffering is labelled ‘badluck illness’, and it’s cause is attributed to juju.

The two children and their family are the victim of stigma in all its dimensions. They are only saved by the coming to their village of an NGO working to provide medical assistance for persons living with epilepsy, with the main objective to combat the stigma surrounding this chronic neurological disorder.

Precious and Victor together with their kid sister Mercy, live in the remote village of Fiebondem in Cameroon.

Cameroon has a very high rate of prevalence of Epilepsy in the world, and a 2016 lancet neurology article holds that the country could very well have the highest rate in the world. The village of Fiebondem, one of those villages in the country with higher rates of epilepsy, has been abandoned to itself unfortunately. In addition to the shortage of health facilities and supplies especially with regards to epilepsy, the extremely seasonal and barely carved out roads make it impracticable to attempt going there for nearly half a year. This waterloo has taken a toll on the growth of the village and the villagers, who have caved in on themselves, and have all but clung on to their traditional beliefs and practices. Indeed, the name of the village reflects on this abandonment as they submit themselves to the mercy of their creator: Fiebondem literally means “Give it to God”.

The dilemma in Fiebondem starts over half a century ago with a high infant mortality rate, The villagers in those days and circumstance can only cry out to their gods while blaming their misfortunes on ‘witchcraft’: witches are consequently identified, rounded up and burnt at the stake.

Several years later, children no longer die at birth, but others now succumb to a new phenomenon of fainting fits with dire consequences for the victim and their families.

It is still so shameful to be pointed out as a household having one of such ‘badluck children’. Indeed, having more than one of such ‘badluck child’ can easily lead to serious retaliation and rejection from the village by the community. The ‘badluck children’ are quickly hidden away by their families, tied to their beds if need be, and they are not sent on any meaningful errands not to talk of to school. Once the ‘badluck children’ themselves start feeling rejected, they either don’t equally want to go anywhere for fear of society’s repudiation of their ‘bizarreness’– hence social/self isolation, and they are either pulled out, kicked out or they drop out of school and run away from the village altogether. Such is the disastrous impact of stigma cause by epilepsy in the village of Fiebondem…

Kindly stay tuned for P2 and co in the following days…

Wishing us all the best

The Gbm Foundation Produces A Teacher’s Handbook of Epilepsy for Schools


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The Gbm Foundation (of which I am the Country Director) seeks to step up its efforts to bring epilepsy out of the shadows. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions with approximately 70 million people affected worldwide. The prevalence of epilepsy is highest in sub – Saharan African countries ranging from 2.2 to 58 per 1000. Epilepsy is one of the least understood chronic medical conditions. False attribution of seizures to supernatural causes, beliefs in certain cultures that patient’s body fluids during convulsive seizures are contagious, and lack of knowledge about proper seizure first aid has led with bystanders to be reluctant to help patients living with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is associated with a lot of discrimination imposed by other people which together with other impediments related to the underlying brain disorder as cognitive impairment make people living with epilepsy to be less likely to be sent to school, find employment and marry. Children with epilepsy are at increased risk of educational underachievement, learning difficulties, mental health problems, social isolation, and poor self-esteem. Teacher’s knowledge and attitudes toward epilepsy can have significant impact on these difficulties including student’s performance, social skill development, and future employment.

Improving epilepsy awareness and knowledge among school staff helps in creating a supportive learning environment for pupil/students with epilepsy, through effective seizure management, and control of discrimination. A school teacher or staff who knows how to respond to seizures will both improve safety in school and influence the reactions of other pupil/students. In certain cases, teachers may even be the first to notice the symptoms of seizures in a student. Teachers who are knowledgeable about epilepsy will understand and encourage pupil/students and thus facilitate learning and self – esteem thereby playing a vital role in the physical, social and academic well – being of pupil/students with epilepsy.

This handbook is designed to educate school staff about epilepsy, improve their ability to manage seizures in pupil/students and facilitate practices that will create an optimal learning environment for pupil/students living with epilepsy. It contains general information about epilepsy, basic seizure first aid, and advice on the daily interactions with the student with epilepsy.

The Foundation firmly believes that, it is its imperative to make available these handbooks of epilepsy for school teachers, as such an initiative will be a great tool to fight against the stigma, rejection and abuse of persons living with epilepsy and promote inclusive education in favor of young persons living with epilepsy. This project will definitely go a long way bring awareness to the plight of those living with and or affected by the condition, and our hope is that it contributes to the research directly needed in this domain as well as affect policy change in favour of  persons living with the illness, their families and their integration into the community.

Kindly Get Involved

Let's be the Hope for each other
Let’s be the Hope for each other

Gbm as a civil society organization actively involved in the fight against the stigmatization of persons living with and/or affected with epilepsy, is happy to carry out such a noble project in furtherance of its goals. We rely on donations from our partners and persons of good will and call on all to support our various projects. We are currently looking for funders to enable us publish and print 3000 more of these handbooks to add to the 1000 already published and printed. No donation is too little… a single handbook funded could serve an entire school: Thank you…

P.S: My late brother was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 11 and with Bipolar Disorder a decade or so later… this Foundation is so close to my heart… I’ll be launching another Go Fund me Campaign eventually and even the smallest $ will be valued to my core

back-cover-teachers-handbook-of-epilepsy

Sights from a Succesful Solidarity Walk


Arriving at dusk for set up
Arriving at dusk for set up
Warm up before the walk takes off and while waiting for others to arrive
Warm up before the walk takes off and while waiting for others to arrive
The dynamic wife of the Senior Divisional Officer for Wouri led the walk
The dynamic wife of the Senior Divisional Officer for Wouri led the walk
A delighted Participant
A delighted Participant
Warming Down after the walk
Warming Down after the walk
Country and Programme Directors
Country and Programme Directors
My special friend Bea
My special friend Bea

On your marks, ready, Walk… to bring epilepsy out of the Shadows


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Wow, wow, wow – barely 3 days and my brother’s name is high over there on the banner for all to see. No he didn’t die in vain. No my pain was not in vain. And oh yes the gain is worth the lane no matter how winding.

Those banners worth thousands of messages

Sortons L'Epilepsie de L'ombre
Sortons L’Epilepsie de L’ombre

We at the Gbm-em Foundation have done all in our might and conscious of our plight, to get ready. We are going to walk with our sympathizers purple high.

On Friday already, there will be a one hour program over the CRTV radio, about this maiden and first of its kind solidarity walk for an illness still ‘near taboo’. A pity the world statistics didn’t spare out our ignorance, in fishing out our infamous record. No 1 in prevalence of epilepsy worldwide… Oh cry my beloved country Cameroon!

A big Thank You for your generous donations in cash, kind and goodwill

Isn’t that awesome? Yes we can, Yes we are doing it, Yes will keep walking and marching on in the fight to bring epilepsy out of the shadows.