Category Archives: Epilepsy Solidarity Walk in Cameroon

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

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.

Gbm-em Banner Flying – last Call b4 DDay…


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Oh my, what fulfillment to see this! Happened like in a blitz when I thought all was almost stalled due to Administrative procedures.

There are two of these, both sides printed on, in both official languages of Cameroon. All is almost set and done for the big first of its kind walk on such a taboo condition. And yet, epilepsy is not contagious, it’s not deadly but how many know any of this?

So many people in this my country alone, suffer or know someone who does. I mean we hold the ‘infamous and uncourted world record’. Something definitely needs to be done, someone needs to start a mass awakening, and our Foundation in memory of a dear one who lived, battled and died not only with epilepsy but with mental disorders, is doing just that.

Kudos to us all at the Gbm team (you’ll chuckle at how many we are ). At least, I got 3 awesome donors and several shares on mygofund me maiden initiative: )

Last call therefore before I close this campaign. Will you answer the call if not yet?  🙂

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There is no shame in asking for help right?

Last call to donate for a noble cause and campaigner

A Gbm Solidarity Walk to bring Epilepsy out of the Shadows


Join us as we walk to bring epilepsy out of the shadows

Join us Let’s Walk to Bring Epilepsy out of the Shadows:

The Gbm-em Foundation is organizing it’s maiden Solidarity Walk on the 31st of October 2015 under the theme: Let’s Bring Epilepsy out of the Shadows. The Walk is organized under the Patronnage of the Senior Divisional Officer for Wouri Mr. Paul BEA NASERI. The organization of this walk couldn’t have been better timed, given that it comes up on the eve of the month of Novemeber recognized by the International Medical Community as the Epilepsy Awareness Month.

The Gbm Solidarity Walk is our way of launching the Epilepsy Awareness Month

According to a recent article by the Lancet Neurology, Cameroon ranks top position among the countries with the highest rate of epilepsy. This is not only alarming, but a thunderbolt call for action to all stakeholders involved so that this neurological disorder is brought out of the shadows. *

And yet, these are some basic facts and resources on epilepsy, which however still have a hard time being appreciated by a society already hardcored towards the mariginalization, stigmatization and even outright rejection of persons living with epilepsy.

The Gbm-em Foundation posits the following:

Epilepsy is a brain disorder largely neglected partly due to ignorance, false beliefs, myths and limited resources. It is therefore in this context, that the Gbm Foundation for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing is organizing its first maiden solidarity walk.

The aim of the walk: To carry out awareness and sensitization about epilepsy, knowledge share of seizure management,as well as dispel false beliefs and advocate against the stigmatization of persons living with epilepsy.

We are all invited

We at the Gbm-em Foundation are hereby sending out an open invitation to the general public in and around the Douala Metropolitan city of the Litorral Region of Cameroon,  to join us on the 31st of October 2015 at 7 am prompt infront of the Central Post Office.Come one come all Let’s walk in all courage and herald the cause to demystify epilepsy in Cameroon.

Registration starts at 5000 frs and all funds collected will go a long way to support the activities of the year old Gbm Foundation. An immediate project the funds will contribute to is the forthcoming phase two of the inclusive education project for young persons living with epilepsy.

The following personalities have equally been invited: The Regional Delegate for Health, The Regional Delegate for Social Affairs, a Renowned Neurologist, and persons living with epilepsy.

There will be discussions at the end of the walk to throw more light on this condition and to highlight the efforts in place by the powers that be to assist persons living with and those affectied by epilepsy. The General Public will also be able to ask questions and get answers to their preoccupations.

Me. Marie Abanga, the Gbm Country Director, clad in Purple during some media advocacy.

With our purple T-Shirts, we are sure not to go un-noticed. Looking forward to seeing many of us on that Day. Kindly visit theGbm website to read more about this and other projects, and equally on ways to get involved to support our work.