By Sola Ogundipe
Ask a child how much that child can do or how far he or she can go without a limb. That child would probably tell you that there is not much that can be done or not much distance that can be covered by someone that is missing a limb.
Lekan Adekoya would give such answer. On January 29, 2015, the 12-year-old and his brother were knocked down by a learner driver while trying to motion to the driver that was reversing the car. Although his brother escaped with minor injuries, teenaged Lekan was not as lucky.
He suffered traumatic damage to his left leg which had to be amputated. A lover of mathematics, Lekan became confined to crutches; his ambition to become a lawyer truncated.
Basirat Adam’s answer to the question would be similar. A JSS1 student at State Junior High School, Lagos, she suffered similar fate as Lekan. Basirat who lives with her grandmother in Agege area of Lagos was walking by the roadside one day when a commercial motorcyclist, a.k.a. Okada, ran into her.
She suffered serious trauma that led to amputation of her left leg. But despite her injury, Basirat remains undeterred in her ambition of completing her education. The English Language-loving student still hopes to become a medical doctor in future. She required a prosthetic limb, but the cost has been beyond her parents.
Three-year-old Semilore Kosoko would give a similar answer. Born with a malformed femur that led to amputation of her right leg, Semilore’s plight elicits empathy.
Currently in Kindergarten 2, she was taken by her parents from their home in Berger area of Lagos to live with her grandmother in Ijoko in Ogun State, just to ward off the stigmatisation and stereotype associated with her condition. All Semilore requires is a prosthetic of the right leg to enable her walk and build up her psyche. However, it’s too expensive for her family.
When 7-year-old Ayoifeoluwa Ayodele, was born, she had no fingers. Ayoifelowa, a Primary 2 pupil that loves mathematics with a passion has ambition of becoming a pilot and teacher. But struggling with the aura of stigmatisation and stereotype associated with her condition is a stumbling block. There is no argument that a pair of cosmetic gloves would boost her confidence tremendously. Unfortunately, her parents cannot pay for one.
Six-year-old Isaac Joseph-Osumah who was born with multiple congenital amputations of the leg and fingers has always required help to be as independent as possible. In layman’s terms, he was born without one leg and some fingers in one hand. With such deformities, Isaac is really in need of aid to be physically functional. Currently residing with his parents in Ketu, Lagos, he had been hoping for a miracle. The only snag is that such aids are far too expensive for his family.?
United by a common predicament of congenital or acquired limb deformities, these five children have longed to live their dream. Last weekend, that dream began to come true. At an event tagged “Out For A Limb” – a social service event spearheaded by Stanbic IBTC Group in collaboration with Irede Foundation, and specially designed to empower children with congenital and acquired limb deformities.
Each of the children received prosthetic limbs and education endowments of N1.5 million. Executive Director and Founder, Irede Foundation, Chrystal Chigbu, gave a rendition of how she was motivated to set it up based on her personal challenge, and how it became a life-transforming initiative that was benefiting the lives of many.
“I’m married to Azubike Chigbu. My daughter, Beulah has a congenital limb deformity, is amputated and uses prosthesis. The Foundation focuses on children that have been amputated either as a result of congenital issue or trauma. “It started in 2012, and we hope to continue to do this so that society will learn to properly relate with people with disability and also ensure that when we have related with community at large. We have an aligned vision with Stanbic IBTC Group.
“We encourage the children by providing them with prosthesis and life coaching and mentoring to enable them live their lives sufficiently.
“In the outreach, there were five children, but five more are in the pipeline. The beneficiaries are children that cannot afford to get the prosthetic limbs. Those with no fingers are recieving cosmetic gloves. The prosthesis was accompanied with an educational plan of N1.5 million each to be held in a Trust fund account for their schooling.”
Flagging off the activity with a walk, Wife of the Lagos State Governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode, decried the large population of children without limbs as a result of congenital dysfunction, accidents or security incidences associated with society. “Any society with a large population of amputees especially within the ranks of its children and youths who are expected to take productive roles in future, certainly cannot achieve muchin most departments of life,” she remarked.
Noting that Nigeria just won soccer glory in the Under-17 World Cup in Chile through a group of young lads, she pointed out that it was because the young footballers had their limbs intact, but lamented that some are not that lucky. “The situation that these young ones have found themselves, largely for no fault of theirs, is both pathetic and heartbreaking. For reasons beyond them, they are in this unfortunate condition.”
Ambode said even though the children’s situation may be considered pitiable, it certainly was not the end of the world. Speaking earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Group, Mrs Sola David-Borha said it was part of their corporate social responsibility. She said the Group wanted to have a flagship cause people could identify with.
“We did a survey and arrived at health and narrowed it down to children and prosthesis. We think it is real and will impact on the lives of the children. We are focused on children who are not well supported, so we can make a real difference in their lives. It aligns with our theme of moving people forward.”