Tuesday, 20 December 2016

2016: Sicklers Celebrate with Umeh, Obi, Obaze, others

Obaze and Aisha

By Okechukwu Onuegbu

If there are a group of persons who could beat their chest and say that the 2016 recession did not affect them so bad, it is the Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder (APLSCD). Every eye, who saw them at St. Anthony Catholic Church, and Ausca Memorial School, Nanka, Orumba local government area of Anambra state during their annual thanksgiving/get-together would testify to this fact.
Formed in 2014 by Mrs. Aisha Edward, who incidentally is its National Coordinator, APLSCD is a child born as a result of some horrendous experience sicklers in Nigeria pass through in the hands of ‘money hungry’ health practitioners and ‘selfish’ Non Governmental Organisations (NGO). Edward had through investigations, discovered that most of these unscrupulous elements including parents, politicians, and so on, were using their conditions to milk the nation dry in the name of helping sicklers, who they neither give a dine of the proceed nor allow to explore their potential without stigimatisation.
The ceremony, which begun with a church service at St. Anthony, was so special to them as it witnessed the presence of Chief Victor Umeh, the APGA Senatorial candidate for Anambra Central controversial election; Oseloka Obaze, the former SSG; wife of Gov. Obiano, Chief Ebelechukwu Obiano; former Chairman of Anaocha local government area, and others.

In a homily, the Chief Celebrant, Rev Fr Ezeoke, harped on the importance of peace and love, charging on congregants to showcase these virtues throughout the yuletide and beyond.
Ezeoke also disclosed that his parish like several other catholic churches, have made it compulsory for every lovers to discover their genetic combination before saying I do at altar, and urged the congregants to stick to it with a view to preventing the spread of sickle cell anemia.
Addressing the church earlier, Edward announced that through her group’s advocacy visits and sensitisation tours, people have begun to understand the need for ascertaining their genetic combination before marriage.

Edward, who noted that APLSCD lost 30 out of its 3000 members in 2015, added that the 2016 killed one of their members, to the Glory of God, even as she reiterated her resolve to meet and lecture women all over of the world on how to prevent the spreading of sickle cell anemia disorder.

She said, “Through the help of Engr Arthur Eze, this association started and completed a specialist clinic at Ukpo to carter for the health needs of our members. The clinic was commissioned during our World Sickle Cell Day Celebration. We also painted Anambra State red as marked the annual UNO’s World Sickle Cell Day at UNIZIK, Awka.

“We also held a gospel concert with choirs from across the state singing to the delight of audience in order to show the world that we are not only medically stable but also psychologically stable. We also published a booklet which we aare currently using for sensitisation across the state and beyond.

“Again, through the help of our benefactors, we have paid, and still paying school fees of our members. We have also rented and furnished accommodation and shops for our some of our members who are orphans and physically challenged. And our darling members in the Anambra State House of Assembly are helping us to review the Anambra State Sickle Cell law. It has scaled through first and second reading, and now at committee stage. We had a successful August meeting tour, opened an official website.

“Our group is also on radio sensitisation programme sponsored by Peter Obi, the former Anambra State governor. Also, the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Awka, appointed Chaplains for us. We are also in partnership with NYSC, Rotaract Club, and Rock Tama Spring Water and others,” she added.

Edward, while thanking APLSCD BOT Chairman, Chief Sylvester Nwobualor, Rev. Fr. Ebebe, their Chaplain and others, however, called for support from philanthropists so as to get them a sensitisation bus, approval of published book to improve its circulation, equipping of their skilled acquisition centre, and renovation of their collapsed water supply.

Also speaking, Chief Victor Umeh, represented by Ikeobi Ejiofor, disclosed that Umeh would continue to identify with people like sicklers as he had been doing in the past.

After the thanksgiving mass, Oseloka Obaze, said in an interview with news48hour.com, that he had come to commune with APLSCD because of his passion for helping the poor and disadvantaged in the society, and would never relent in helping them to realise their dreams.

Speaking during the get-together party, the Chaplain of the Association, Rev. Fr. Obiorah Ike promised that henceforth, the managements, staff and students of AUSCA memorial would be celebrating end of year party together with sicklers with a pomp and pageantry.

The Chaplain also urged them to never to see their condition as a punishment from God or impediment of any kind as God is always with them, even as he charged them to be closer to God by studying and practicing what is in the bible.

 The highlight of the event which later clandestine into eat and drink to sleep, was presentation of Christmas rice and other condiments, payment of members school fees, empowerment to working class members/graduate trainees, distribution of mosquitoes nets, and so on.  



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