” Even if the dateline is past, don’t shy away if your gut tells you to apply… do it and the answer will either be a yes or a no” One of my mantras
Hello world, inspiring and motivating us all with my personal experience.
I registered to attend the 3rd African Epilepsy Congress on behalf of the Foundation created in memory of my late brother (I am the country director), and I thought I may as well submit an abstract. Guess what happened… It got accepted and I have to do a poster presentation for the 3 days of the conference.
I had noticed on their website that there were a few bursaries available, but the dateline was a week past when I received notifcation that the abstract was accepted. One of the conditions for applying for the bursary was that your abstract had to have been accepted.
I decided to try anway although there was some skeptism around me – they thought I should be glad my abstract was accepted in the first place and that the bursaries were clearly for young researchers etc etc
I sent an email pleading my case as follows:
“From: Marie A. Abanga [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 02 February 2017 09:03
To: 3rd African Epilepsy Congress
Subject: Re: 3rd African Epilepsy Congress 2017 – Abstract acceptance
Dear Congress Sectretariat,
Thank you very much for this notification of the acceptance of my abstract. I am so moved, it is a dream come true.
Please, I have a query. I didn’t apply for a bursary because of one of the conditions which read as follows:
Given that I had not yet received any acceptance or score of my abstract, I hesitated sending in an application.
Considering that I fulfill all other conditions, could I exceptionally be given a few hours to submit an application for a bursary?
Our Foundation is still so maiden and not funded – any resources we may set aside to sponsor my participation will leave a big toll on resources available for other programs earmarked for the year.
In sincere anticipation,” and I got a yes thus:
“Thank you for your email.
We can allow your request to apply for a bursary. Please complete and return the attached application form as soon as possible and by tomorrow (Friday 3rd February) at the latest.
3rd AEC Congress Secretariat“
And so I did all it expected and sent my application for the bursary by COB that same day. I mean, with the dateline of 22 December 2016, wasn’t this amazing they were even open to me on Feb 02? And then yesterday morning I got this oh my:
“Dear Marie Abanga,
On behalf of the Scientific and Organising Committee of the 3rd African Epilepsy Congress, I am pleased to inform you that you have been awarded a bursary to attend the congress…“
If I didn’t ask to be considered for a late application, I would have missed out big time. And if it had been a No, it would have sucked but I would have been glad I tried.
Therefore and please, sometimes we just need to face our fear in a positive light – and ask anyway. I used to fear failure big time, but a lot has changed with time and life. Even if there is a dateline and am late, I will pray and apply – mentally ready for a No or YES!!!
And you, any time you faced your fear and went for it even after the dateline?
Have a nice weekend
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s really talk about Dignity in Mental Health!!!
This is what the Gbm-em Foundation has invited stakeholders from the most concerned fields to do this 10th of October, set aside by the international community to commemorate World Mental Health.
The panel will comprise the following persons:
The Delegate for Public Health for the Littoral Region or his Representative;
The Delegate for Social Affairs for the Littoral Region or his Representative;
The delegate for Labour for the Littoral Region or his Representative;
Representatives of the Gabriel Bebonbechem Foundation for Epilepsy & Mental Wellbeing;
A person living with mental health illness (if possible).
Dignity in Mental Health Meaning???
Well, this is what we are going to find out during the discussions. We hope to get inputs from the different stakeholders on their views about this salient theme, and on the practice on the field.
To our own appreciation:
Dignity in Mental Health implies:
Our list is non conclusive and of this we are aware. We at the Gbm-em Foundation know some of what we advocate for because as Gabriel Bebonbechem’s story illustrates, we were all but lost when faced with a similar situation. Indeed, Gabriel was a Genuis who ended up a Simpleton for several reasons we still do not master, neither was his treatment protocol dignifiable at all times.
Join us therefore dear readers, as we organize this round table discussion which will be registered and broadcasted by the Cameroon Radio and Television house Douala. And sure while you are at it, check out my GoFundMe Campaign for Epilepsy and Mental Illness.
Please, don’t underestimate even the 5 or 10 euros you can donate. Above all, you never know who will be moved by your sharing this post or the campaign itself.
I am forever grateful even just for the grace to do all what I am doing, and of course for for all those I know and will keep meeting both on off and on – line.
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