April 5, 2023

Irene Foundation canvasses support for amputees


… holds annual ‘A Walk For Inclusion’
By Chioma Obinna & Esther Onygbula

In furtherance of its efforts to support Nigerian amputees, The Irede Foundation (TIF) has identified cultural backgrounds and differences as most challenges facing people with disability in Nigeria, saying there was a need to end discrimination and stigmatisation against amputees.

The Executive Director/Founder of the Foundation, Mrs Crystal Chigbu spoke while addressing journalists in Lagos on its forthcoming 9th Annual Walk tagged: “A Walk For Inclusion” billed to hold April 8th, 2023 in 60 locations globally and four locations in Lagos said the walk was to raise funds for children with limb loss.

Chigbu lamented that despite the passage of the disability law in 2019, the implementation has remained a challenge.

She said TIF has given out 361 limbs in 10 years and also added that this year it will be giving out 200 limbs, comprising new limbs and replacements.

“Last year, we did 102 limbs. We have given out 361 limbs in 10 years. Right now, a limb costs an average of N1.5 million,” she said.

Noting that April was Global Limb Loss Awareness Month, designed to celebrate the amputees’ uniqueness, strength and ability to thrive against all odds, Chigbu, said TIF will also be focusing on employment opportunities and access for amputee youths.

“Our mission at TIF with Out On A Limb is very direct; to help people with disabilities live their lives to the fullest and all we do is centred around that. So far the biggest challenge has to be cultural backgrounds and differences. We are in Nigeria and we believe so much in superstitions that have caused a lot of harm and we are working on shifting the mindset of these people”

“We are walking for inclusion because we want a society where everyone is involved and carried along irrespective of their differences and indifferences. We are walking for inclusion this year to ensure that people with disabilities can get opportunities, jobs, quality education, and other things that they should have.”

Chigbu who recounted the many milestones achieved by the foundation said they are going into a lot of research particularly on the limbs for beneficiary amputees. “For children, we would focus on access to a full education, for youths, to have equal access to employment opportunities and for caregivers, to be able to live their lives independently,” she added.

On the walk, she said the exercise is designed to educate and create awareness of the need for inclusion for people with disabilities and also allow others to see how disability and exclusion affect all and to build a more inclusive society.

Chigbu said the advocacy walk started as a result of her daughter who was born without bones in her legs and ultimately went through amputation.

“I realised there were a lot of children like she and I wanted to put an end to stigmatisation. I wanted to ensure inclusion in society and inspire people with disabilities that it is possible to live a full life. The crucial thing is that we can’t do it alone, so we need the help of the media to help spread awareness and its limb loss awareness month which makes it all perfect.”

Speaking, the Program Lead of The IREDE foundation, Wuraola Kayode said the foundation is targeting to reach 15,000,000 people with 5,000 participants which will enable the opportunity to raise awareness about Limb loss and the support available for children with disabilities, inclusive education, and raise funds to continue to empower child amputees.”