Sickle Cell Awareness Advocate Bukola Bolarinwa is our #OSGWCW this Week
Bukola Bolarinwa who is an advocate for people living with sickle cell in Africa is our #OSGWCW today.
Bukola, who was born with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the president of Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF). She joined in 2011 at the Nigerian Law School in Bwari where it was set up by her friend, Nkechi Azinge.
They both have personal experiences with Sickle Cell and have created an avenue for greater awareness and support for people living with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD).
Nkechi’s three siblings live with SCD and she knows first hand the emotional, physical, psychological and financial burden it places on families. Bukola herself lives with Sickle cell and has been lucky to have an excellent support system.
According to her, Nigeria has the highest rate of sickle cell anaemia in the world but no money for cure or funds to treat the disorder.She has therefore taken it upon herself to create awareness and give aids to sufferers of the disease.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Bolarinwa said there are millions of people living with sickle cell, hundreds of thousands of births every year, way more than HIV, way more than cancer and a lot of other diseases that get way more funds. Sickle cell doesn’t get enough publicity.
She went on to start Haima Health Initiative, a blood donation drive across the country in 2013. Her challenges as a child made her resilient and have a passion for human rights, her Primary school motto was “thoughts for others”. This has stuck with her and influenced her personality today.
During the setup of her health initiative, Bukola was faced with the challenge of people’s negative perception about blood donation.
She began a monthly campaign drive in partnership with the National Blood Transfusion Service to try to ensure a regular supply of donated blood, and to help combat cultural fears about giving blood.
Bukola’s goal is to increase the number of voluntary blood donors to 1% of the population and create a culture of donation devoid of superstition especially among young persons.
Recognising the importance of creating awareness from an early age, Bukola and her team published the SCD school handbook, a fun activity book for teenagers. She is working to get it incorporated into secondary schools across the country.
She was honoured with an award from Queen Elizabeth II of England in the 2017 Queen’s Young Leaders Award program.
We celebrate Bukola Bolarinwa, for her strength and drive as our woman crush.