By Juliet Ebirim
Driven by love for her 22-year-old autistic brother, Ben, multi-talented Efe Irele, whose impressive resume include acting in a TV series – ‘Single Ladies’ and starring in Emem Isong’s advocacy movie ‘Zahra’, as well as her role in the video of Adekunle Gold’s hit single ‘Sade’ is adding humanitarian service to her credits, as she recently launched the ‘Efe Irele Autism Foundation’, a not-for-profit organization.
Having witnessed first-hand the high level of stigmatization autistic children experience, as well as the struggle the parents go through in raising them, Efe, who is also a model and blogger , consequently became very passionate and pro-active about increasing awareness on the condition, hence she is dedicating her time and energy towards awareness initiatives and providing support for families with autistic children.
A 2-in-1 event, which include the launch of the foundation as well as a Christmas party was held on Tuesday, December 26th at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church, Gbagada. .
Fighting back tears as they threatened to pour down her cheeks, the Master’s degree graduate in Human Resource Management, recalled how her mum had to quit her job to cater for her brother, saying, “I remember after my mum (Magret Irele) had my brother Ben, she had to quit her job as a nurse in a reputable hospital in order to look after him. She started cooking and selling food. A lot of parents do not even have the resources to take care of these children and so I want to be able to help these parents in whatever way I can.”
Continuing, she said “Autistic children lack social skills, but sadly not everyone understands that, I want to create awareness in that regard. All they need is love, not stigmatization. They shouldn’t be locked up and kept away from people. Growing up, I went everywhere with my brother even though he’s autistic and I get sad and angry when people look at or treat him in a funny way”.
The event was well attended by family, friends as well as some autistic children and their parents. Some mothers also shared their experiences. Highlights of the event was a health talk by an autism expert, as well as presentation of gifts.