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Funmilayo, the lonely child

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I walked in and there she was playing by herself, I called her and she just greeted and continued playing while Yaqub got me introduced to her and all others in their office. I could not stop at anything, but to get her attention. She looked at me and smiled and continued playing alone. She is already used to that, nobody gets close to her because of her skin condition. I called her by name and held her close to me, oh my you needed to see tears well up in our eyes, I cannot explain that moment, all I can say is that she felt accepted and as little as she is, couldn’t hide her expression. Her name is Funmilayo.

I first received a facebook message about Funmilayo in June 2015 from a young man Adedeji Yaqub Arisekola Kesoislata of Chamagne Foundation in Ogba Lagos about Funmilayo and her Skin condition. His first message read …

Hi,
Please I have a child I will like you to see, I think she has Vitiligo and the father is using her to beg for money.

Funmilayo

At first I was angry, my thought instantly was, what a man? Then I gave it a thought, considered what could be happening to father and daughter that led to begging for alms. I responded that the child’s condition needs to be diagnosed first so we can be sure of what she is living with and that I would love to meet with her. He asked if he can forward her pics to me, oh sure I told him.

He forwarded this picture of her.

Oh I cried silently in my room looking at this pics, I was not crying because of her skin condition, but the kind of discrimination, stigma, segregation she must be experiencing at such age and being exposed more as the fathers takes her out to beg for money.

I was out of the country at the time and promised to visit as soon as I am back, but I got back and forgot till he sent me a reminder on the 27th of August.

Preparing to meet Funmilayo, I am not a dermatologist and cannot diagnose her condition if they had not done that. What I decided to give first while I hope to learn more about her when I get to meet her.

In preparation, I decided to make her OgoNaturals 100% natural body butter (the images are not great, but please get the message) to be using while we try to find out how best we can help her.

In the body butter are

  • Unrefined Shea butter
  • Cold Pressed virgin coconut oil
  • Cold pressed wildcrafted African neem oil and
  • Almond oil

Discussing with Yaqub and others in the office to understand better as the father got hard hearing and cannot really speak English, she cried again when they mentioned that she does not go to school because they would not admit her in School due to her condition. The tears broke my heart, she is 6+ and really understands that other children runs from her and adults as well.

Discussing with Yaqub and others in the office to understand better as the father got hard hearing and cannot really speak English, she cried again when they mentioned that she does not go to school because they would not admit her in School due to her condition. The tears broke my heart, she is 6+ and really understands that other children runs from her and adults as well.

I presented to her the body butter I made for her and advised her to try and use it as it will help her while we try to get further help for her. I had to tell her all that because she seemed keenly interested in everything I was saying.
What surprised everyone around was how clearly she communicates even when she has never been to school nor play with anyone. Apparently they have been speaking only Yoruba language to her anytime they are in that office more reason they were all amazed at her communicating in English clearly. Such an intelligent Funmilayo, oh we really need to help this little girl to atleast get admitted to School before any other thing.

Before you know it, we were having fun, taking selfies and she making faces. She said, ‘give your phone, let me camera you’ …..it was just so funny. I doubt if anyone has ever allowed her to do that, she was just so excited laughing, screaming and asking me all sorts of question. I was really happy that I was able to put a little smile on her face. Some of the pics she took of us

While in there, other kids before me were running away from her. I do not blame children when they do this because they are just being kids. I only blame parents who will not educate their children about such things, but will rather warn them to stay away. I don’t know exactly what this condition is yet till I am able to meet with the Dermatologist they have been going to, to ascertain the actual condition and way forward.

The father claimed that his wife, Funmilayo’s mother walked away from him and the daughter when the skin condition became very obvious at the age of two. He said he does not have a job as he has spent all he had on the child’s medication and from going from one hospital to another. Truly he has taken her to quite a number of hospitals as he had all of the documents with him.

 Sadly when I advised that he should feed the child much more of fruits and vegetables, he confessed that they barely have food or money to buy let alone buying fruits and vegetables. The girl is not being taken care of properly.

Over this years, working on the Vitiligo cause, I have received and continued to receive enquiries about other skin conditions. This is because there seems to be no other Skin related support group or organisation in my Country and this has really been of great concern to me. I had started an initiative then I called ‘Walk for Skin Health’ under Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation – VITSAF, but didn’t get to ‘Walk’ or any of the activities for once due to financial constraint.

Today I have moved that initiative to my Social enterprise Ogo Maduewesi Naturals where I hope to be able to do that and not add more burden to the heavily burdened VITSAF.

 Wouldn’t you join us to journey with this great initiative. Please reach out to us with your skincare products you want to donate, partner with us for a ‘Walk for Skin Health’ in any part of Nigeria. Please bring on any suggestion you may have as regards this initiative. Funmilayo’s story is just one I have been able to document, many are dying in silence and living miserably. We all have Right to Great health, Social, mental and physical well-being.

Thank you

Culled from www.ogomaduewesi.com/

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