More photos from the Yes We Are Winning Foundation Charity Dinner held on the 15th of December, 2019 at ZAAZ Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos.
March 21st of every is regarded as the World Down Syndrome Day, and today, the 14th Edition was celebrated in a grand style, by the Down Syndrome Foundation, and the Yes, We Are Winning foundation (YWAW).
The Yes We Are Winning Foundation, led by it’s Project Coordinator, Afonrinwo Babs ‘Deji with the media director, Olubunmi Olaniyan, and a member of the YWAW team, Kikelomo Olatunde were present at United Nations Information Center, Ikoyi to commemorate the day Collaboration with Down Syndrome Foundation.
The 2019 edition of the World Down Syndrome Day with the theme, “Leave no one behind” the event was graced by dignitaries and important personalities from all works of life including Dame Abimbola Fashola (Former First Lady, Lagos State), human right advocates, as well as parents and partners.
One of the Parents spoke about the challenges faced in fathering a child plagued with both autism spectrum disorder and Down Syndrome. He said “It was a very sad experience having to cope with the reality of nursing a child with Down Sydrome.
In her words, she said, “”Our first child was born with the Down Syndrome. We did all we could to change his condition, spent lots of our resources in several hospital before finally succumbing to fate. When he was growing up, we took him to different schools yet all we got was neglect and bullying from other kids until a friend in South-Africa introduced us to the Down Syndrome Foundation, and today, we are proud parents.”
He concluded by saying “If you have never felt a pain before because of your child, then you aren’t a parent yet.” He finally encouraged the parent, government and individuals to keep supporting this amazing set of people by giving them equal opportunities, showing them unique and genuine love.
Another parent, Alhaji Yahya came in all the way from Kwara State. He mentioned how he first saw the school on TV, then contacted the founder, Mrs. Rose Mordi who has being of great help to his son. The man said “Because of the kind of love my son has gotten, I have also decided to sponsor two children with down syndrome whom I picked on the street. The children are also registered in the foundation”, he enthused.
He then concluded by saying, “My son is 22years old, he can do a whole lot of physical exercises. He’s plays table tennis pretty well, and does some other house chores, and happily married with a child. I think it is better we allow them marry and have a child early, because no one knows tomorrow.”
If there is any father who could have regretted having a child with down syndrome, perhaps the parents of ÌyanuOluwa could be, however, instead of being sad, what brought them tears years ago is now their pride. Their little daughter, ÌyanuOluwa clocks 3 years today (Picture Insert: ÌyanuOluwa with members of Yes We Are Winning Foundation).
The father said, “At a time, everyone neglected us including church members. Even family concluded we take her to the hospital and inject her to die, but we believed God gave us the child for a purpose.”
In conclusion, the Founder of the Down Syndrome Foundation, Mrs. Rose Mordi thanks everyone who came for the event, notably, the Yes We Are Winning Foundation for donating relief materials to the school.
Today will go down a memory lane, as we all reflect, agreed and resolved to stop the bully and neglect of these amazing individuals, instead, we advocate for total inclusion and integration of these ones into the society by giving them equal opportunity.
Part of the extras was exhibition of hand made materials by the students, choreography, video presentations and advocacy recitations by the students.
Yes, We are Winning, WeCEEEyou!
For more on Autism, read: http://WORLD AUTISM DAY: LEAH, HOPELESS AND HAPPY
Written by Afonrinwo Babs ‘Deji
YWAW Project Coordinator.
September 17th 1990, I was 13; young, vibrant and full of hopes and aspirations. My name is Cassandra and this is the tale of my sexual ordeal with a beast.
My parents planed to travel on another business trip, and so I was taken to my uncle’s place in the south eastern part of the country. I was supposed to stay with him for a week.
My first night was great. But the next morning my aunty had received a call that her goods had being ceased by the customs in Lagos and her attention was urgently needed. Aunty and Kate, my neice took the next available flight to Lagos the next day. This was the beginning of my ordeal.
For good 6 nights; my uncle rapped me!… I felt used, abused and abandoned. There was no one around to help me; and I was naive, I didn’t have the chance to share my experience with anyone. I kept hoping that my parents or even my aunty would return the next day so I could narrate my ordeal to them, and be free from my uncle’s harrasments.
A week , then another one, but my parents hadn’t returned. Why would my parents abandon me with this beast?, I often queried. After a month, news finally reached that my parents had died in a car crash on their way back form their trip. I was devastated, and thus my hope was shattered! What could be worst, I wept uncontrollably.
This sexual ordeal continued until I was 19. My uncle didn’t stop his sexual abuse, and he threatened to kill me if I ever told his anyone. Every moment his wife was away, I would be the toy in the hands of this beast! I got pregnant twice and he drove me to doctors far away from our home for D and C. I had wished I died in the process so I could be free from my diabolical uncle. He was so smart to cover up every chance I had to open up. I felt doomed!
As a result, my growing up was difficult and lonely. I couldn’t stand the sight of men; they irritated me to my bone. I could literally throw up at their sight. I was bitter and disgusted with uncle and wife, and I swore never to step foot into his house again when I have an opportunity to escape.
In spite of this, I struggled to survive. My life was appalling but I was determined to excel in my career and make my parents happy in their grave (if that was possible). I resolved that the only thing that would give me consolation is to be educated and empowered so that I would not end up useless.
I met people who counselled me; I had different therapy sessions so I got better and better. After all I’m supposed to marry a man in the end. Because of my painful experiences, I couldn’t find strength in any friendship even though I tried severally. I couldn’t get myself to trust anyone.
However, my search for happiness led me to Christ. It was then I realized that Christ was actually waiting at the door of my heart so he could come him and heal my broken heart. I recall that I had many chances to run to him for help while I was going through the bitter ordeals, but I jettisoned. I though he never cared about me!
I wish I had taken one of those chances, perhaps I wouldn’t have gone so deep in the troubled waters. I thought the best thing was to keep the secret to myself, and try to suppress my feelings. But I was wrong! Anyway, finally, I found the savior; I found life!
My life was renewed and my dignity restored. I had to leant to forgive; trust me, it wasn’t easy but I did forgave my uncle and all those who had willfully maltreated me. Then peace and health was restored to me, and i was determined to live a life that would influence others positively.
By the way, I Came out best graduating student in my school as the only female mechanical engineering student in my department. How did it happen? Yes, even in the midst of my hopelessness and struggles, I was determined not to let my situation hinder me from my life aspirations, and God helped me!
Today, I celebrate those women who are alive to tell their stories. They are survivors; they weathered the storm while many gave in and even hated living. But what about those girls, ladies or women who have died during child birth, during the D and Cs, after rape. Or what about the infants that never got a chance to see the light of the day?
Today, celebrate every pregnant woman around you!!! They are going through a lot.Therefore, every mother is worthy of adoration. Husbands should love and cherish their wives; they are eternal treasures.
Like I noted in my previous article, “MY JOURNEY INTO DEFILEMENT”- A SAD TALE OF SHARON.To all victims who have been forcefully defiled, let go; and let God. The journey or healing process might be tough and bumpy but its always worth it in the end.
Whatever your case, be a winner! We are winning. Yes we are winning!
It was broad day light but to me it was night. My day was about to be turned to darkness. Everything would change within the twinkle of an eye. My dreams are shattering little by little… My name is Halima, I am the second of 8 children of my parents. And this is my story, a journey to self-actualization.
I had dreams of becoming an engineer. I had hoped to break out of the mold, and be a woman who would not be tied down by circumstances or become a liability. But my hopes were cut short by my dad. My wedding day has been fixed for middle of the year without my knowledge. I was just rounding up with my junior secondary school examination when my life turned upside down.
I got married to a man whose name I won’t disclose. He promised my brother scholarship and a business venture after school. My father got a brand new pickup van, which helped boost his agro-business. My family’s status changed in the twinkle of an eye. At 13 I was married!!
Let me spare you the gruesome details of my experience. But it is noteworthy that I suffered physically, mentally and emotionally. I had a child at age 15. She was beautiful. He married me because he wanted a female child. No one ever longed for a female child. What a contrast you would say!
She was his new love and because of her, he showed me so much love and affection. You all are wondering why I just had my first child at age 15? I lost my first child at age 14 due to immaturity; I wasn’t matured enough to carry a baby, let alone birth the baby.
But medical jettisoned because our culture permitted. It was the survival of the fittest; it was either I stayed alive and the child dies or I die and my child lives. The doctors saved mine instead of the baby. I cried for days and nights but the pain didn’t go away. I was only permitted to bear the pains for a while before I was forced to carry another pregnancy at the age of 17.
When Awa started showing signs of maturity at age 10, my husband would say weird things like, ‘in three years time; your dowry would be paid just like I did for your mother.’ I thought it was a joke, until I began to notice different men come in with gifts. She was just 12. I knew I couldn’t allow my child go through same fate as mine. I needed to act fast to prevent a re-ocurrence.
I woke one morning and my husband had travelled for business in a different state. He usually stayed away for 2 weeks before returning home. On this day, the first wife had gone to visit her sick mum. The second wife went to the market to ply her trade.
This was my clear chance of escape, I had thought. I packed all the monies and valuable jewelries I could lay my hands on.. And I ran as far as my legs could carry. I mean that both figurative and literally. I took the next available bus to the West. I had an aunty who had lived in the West since after her National Youth Service program. She had lived and worked there, and has been married for 20 years.
At 28, I and my child became class mates. I was attending an adult education program when she was preparing to write her high school exams. I was confident that my dreams would be fulfilled no matter what. I started a small business with the money I stole, rented an apartment and enrolled my self and Awa in a public school.
Today am a graduate of chemical engineering, I own my firm and my daughter is a proud medical doctor and she owns her own hospital in the western part of the country. She is happily married to a man from the western part of the country too. I never remarried, but am happy and satisfied at the outcome of my life. My day light finally did not end in darkness.
The escape of HALIMA from a life she was forced to live was a journey to self-actualization. Your attitude in life determines your altitude. According to Kahil Gibran, your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.It is not the challenges that destroys a man but the attitude in the midst of such challenges.
The excuse that your environment has plunged you into this unfortunate situation, and that there’s no way out is not tenable and a lie! You can change your situation by self determination and ultimately by your absolute faith in God who has made you for his good pleasure. You are not created a mediocre and as such don’t stay down!
Where’s Halima? HALIMA ran away from slavery into a life of freedom where she can pursue her dream. You might need to leave your environment for you to make appreciable progress in life. Or perhaps what you need is a change of mentality and attitude. You need to stop lying to yourself about your situation. You can still achieve your aspirations even at this age .
You can break out of he mold; you can fulfill your dreams. You can win! You are winning! Yes, we are winning!
Life was everything I could ask for; a rich father, two loving sisters and my beautiful and caring mother. We never lacked a thing; life was a bed of roses, so to speak. I didn’t have to sweat or whine over anything. I’d though my life was defined by this until much later. I never even thought I would be writing this Kina story at all. I had always thought everything was going to go smoothly and if at all I was going to share any story it was going to be like the Cinderella’s story.
Every adolescents always had a maximum of five days monthly menstruation, but mine was different. When it got very worrisome, I was flown abroad for medical checkup and was diagnosed with menorrhagia. I usually have my menstrual period a maximum of six times in a year (that is every other month). Although, I was cool with it because I didn’t like the pain that accompanied the monthly flow anyway.
On this faithful day it was time to be on my period, but unlike my previous experiences, this particular flow didn’t stop after seven days. I had thought it was because of my plenty sugar intake because I attended two of my friends birthday party and I had lots of cakes and sweets. This flow continued for weeks and then one month, and then the second month.
I began to look pale even though I managed to keep my parents and friends from knowing what i was going through. When i couldn’t bear it alone, I had to open up to my mum who took me to the family hospital. To my amazement, I couldn’t get a treatment that would immediately stop the flow as I had expected. All I got was plenty prescription drugs.
So, I started using drugs to start and stop my monthly flow, and whenever it came I was always stained or smelling, It was really bad, trust me! I had to stop going to school. My parent got private teachers who came home regularly to teach me and prepared me for my entrance examinations. I was only15 years old, and I could imagine my life and dreams fading away little by little.
What could I have done wrong, I’d thought crying with no consolations. Oh… I forgot to add that sometimes the drug won’t work and I would be on for a whole month or more. I was shattered. My family tried so much to make me feel loved and happy but it wasn’t what I needed. I had this vacuum that needed filling. I was like the biblical woman with the issue of blood. I thought mine would never have an end. I became hopeless to say the least.
As I was trying to adjust to the changes in my life; guess what, my dad passed away. I can’t even start narrating that story because it still feels like a dream. He was happy and well one minute and the next he was gone. I felt alone; I could predict the next possible action but it was looking like it was going to take forever for it to happen. Anyways, it finally happened.
A month after my dad’s burial; his family came and drove us out of the house and took over his possessions. Guest what, they said my dad had no male child, as such my mum and I are not entitled to inherit his possessions. My uncles were the favorites, and so my Dad’s properties became a family house for his siblings. My mum was still in shock of his death when all these was happenings, so you can imagine her frustrations.
I cried for days, but what was the use of the tears. He was dead and buried already. We moved back to my mum’s family house somewhere in the western part of the country. All was going well; we had to change to public school, our meal became 001 or 100 or 010. We settled in fine thinking the bad days are over, little did I know that more was on the way. Two years later my mum died.
At this time Ella was in 200 level; I just finished my high school and Ceci was just in her second year..Okay so Ella and Ceci are the two loving sisters I talked about in the beginning. Ella adjusted quickly to these changes but it took Ceci a much longer time to adjust to the environment. She couldn’t get hold of the fact that she wasn’t part of the high and mighty anymore and there was no dad to shower her with attention. It was pretty difficult for her so she started seeking for attention from people no matter whom they are; male or female, old or young.
So, after mummy’s burial we were all alone in this world. Again, I expected mummy’s death. Don’t ask me how or why? It was logical. We needed to survive. Ella and I picked up a side job so we could stay alive. Though it wasn’t helping much we could survive on it. We threaded on, we lived on in spite of the hardship.
I got an admission into the university. Ella was in her final year already. As I was thinking that everything was coming back into place, another thing occurred. Ella was raped by her boss at work. This worsened everything. The only thing that was restraining Ella from prostitution was the oath we swore to our dad; to keep our virginity for our husbands. But now it was gone. It was the dawn of a new day for her… everything was gone! She swore to make guys pay for her boss’s mistake. I didn’t know how to prevent her not to.
10 years after my continual blood flow started, it was as if as the years went by the case worsened, drugs stopped working long time ago. My years in school was a living hell. The school identified me and defined me by my situation. It was worse than being a thief or a cultist. My gist spread abroad the whole campus. At the beginning it was terrible but now in my final year I wasn’t bothered anymore, I had so much joy and peace. I was going to graduate with a second class upper.
This was how it happened. It was a cold Friday morning and I had an 8 a.m lectures. After the class ended I was on my way back home (I didn’t leave on campus because of my ailment and financial reasons) when it started raining heavily. I had an umbrella but it was of no use. The rain was terrible. I ran into a building to keep myself warm until it would stopped raining.
I was already dripping blood as usual. As I looked up to my surrounding still lost in thought I realized that everyone’s attention was on me. Unknowing to me, I took shelter in a church or a fellowship building. I felt so much anger and pain and shame on the inside of me. I was angry at God for allowing so much evil to happen to me and my family. What could we have done to deserve all these sufferings, I;d thought.
I tried to leave but it was as if an invisible chain held me captive on same spot. Suddenly, the thought go my childhood flashed back. I used to go to church because I was forced to. Dad was a religious man, and he wouldn’t allow any one stay back at home on Sundays. But this time it was different. The look on the faces of my spectators wasn’t that of compulsion. I saw happiness and bold smiles as if they were collecting gift or it was party.
I was spurred back to reality with these words “Your situation or circumstances doesn’t define you, neither does fame; wealth; poverty or other earthly possessions. Christ defines you; Christ is your hope of glory!!!” It felt like these words were spoken by God Himself; it was loud and clear. It revived me. I knew I was in for a change!
This was enough reason why I shouldn’t leave the church, I reasoned. I wanted to understand more. Like what was the meaning of the statement “Christ defines my life!?”. As I continued to pondered on this the service came to a close. The rain stopped immediately the goodness was shared. I waited till everyone left. I wanted to meet the preacher for him to expatiate. I wanted to understand more.
I finally met the preacher an he explained to me in details. I left the building with some hope and felt the joy I never had felt in my life. The issues of my issues of blood wasn’t in anyway important to me like the ecstasy of being assured that my life is only defined by my relationship with God and not my problems.
I got back to my room, freshened up, and went straight to bed, anticipating an amazing restful night. It was only the next morning I observed that I was dry; the flow had stopped! I didn’t believe it at first, I thought I was dreaming. My dear friend, that was how i was delivered from a 10-year constant menstrual flow. And more than that God gave my life a new meaning, and made me a glory among those who had rejected me.
I write this story to commemorate the International day of the Girl child. Since 2012, 11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
My friend, your story too can change. You can find your life meaning and purpose through a flourishing relationship with God. You are well defined by Christ. You must know that “Everyone gets knows down but you must define yourself by the day you get up.” Like, me you can say, “I am winning”! You are winning! Yes, we are winning!
Story by Titilola Ogunwale