Category: International observances

Profiling CRAPI on Children’s Day

Profiling CRAPI on Children’s Day

Child’s Rights Advancement and Protection Initiatives (CRAPI) is committed to the cause of children. Strengthening social and emotional competence in children, CRAPI Foundation creates an enabling environment where children’s rights are upheld, the foundation helps children grow to their full potential so they can advance and in turn transform their families and the society at large.

Ensuring this transformation sees the light of day, CRAPI designs, monitors and implements policies and programs which are meant to foster the growth and personality development of these children. For children in Lagos and Abia States, CRAPI sensitizes them through enlightenment programmes, making them aware about their various rights.

Some of CRAPI’s achievements include:

  • Parents Stand Up Against Child Sexual Abuse Project in collaboration with Ministry of Women Affairs, Abia State.
  • Combating Child Human Trafficking and Child Labour: This project is implemented in collaboration with NAPTIP and Ogunbela Avenue/Fola Ojikutu Residents Association in Lagos.
  • Production and Distribution of hand Books
  • No Baby In Prison Project: It targets the release of pregnant women and nursing mothers in Prisons- with a total of 40 pregnant women and nursing mothers having benefited from this program in Lagos and Abia State
  • Advocacy and Litigation of non-implementation of child’s rights Law in Abia state.
  • Girl Child Project: Safe & Sound Transition to Womanhood 1& 2.
  • Workshop on girls handling developmental changes and challenges. This workshop has resulted in the publication and distribution of the handbook, The Red Affairs, Every girl’s handbook in collaboration with LadyCare and MOWA (Lagos and Abia State).
  • SPEAK UP and SAY NO TO BAD TOUCH Projects: At implementation, these two projects has enabled visitations to about 10 schools in Lagos state by experts and the CRAPI foundation with the aim of reaching out to schools to sensitize school children about sexual abuses and the need to break the silence among victims while providing support that is required for rehabilitation.

Other programmes embarked upon by CRAPI include;

  • Zero Tolerance for Babies in Prison in Imo and Abia States.
  • Bracing up to the Fight against Sexual Abuse.

 

Profiling Boigedacha Literary Initiative on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

Profiling Boigedacha Literary Initiative on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

Established to reform, restructure and revitalize the reading culture of students from primary to tertiary level through mass literacy campaign by building of libraries and reading clubs, Boigedacha Literary Initiative (BLI) was founded in Enugu State in 2010 with a mission to remain committed to effecting Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Acting as a defined positive factor in the development of educational sector in Nigeria through her literacy campaign such as building free libraries for Government primary and secondary schools, a move which thus far has birthed positive behavioral changes amongst students, BLI in the spirit of literacy campaign, collaborates with educational stakeholders and other interest groups in the development of reading culture in Nigeria.

BLI together with partners provide counseling, organize seminars and workshops for students on career guide, the foundation organizes and fosters educational programs in primary schools, colleges, higher institutions and several communities while assisting students whose parents cannot afford payment of school fees.

The foundation also engages in community development projects for socio-economic advancement of communities at large like the Reading Culture Platform which creates literacy centers in primary schools, colleges, higher institutions whileaccommodating school drop-outs and adults in the process.

Amongst BLI Activities:

*Mentoring, counseling and coaching of students in becoming the total child.

*Hosting reading and spelling competitions while teaching students how to learn using the scrabble game.

*Advocacy for the girl child education while campaigning against early marriage and championing good health as well as well-being.

*Engagement in peaceful, non-religious and non-political campaigns for national peace.

Since inception, Boigedacha Literary Initiative has organized about five reading competitions while several books have been given out to more than a hundred schools in five states including FCT Abuja, all with the aim of encouraging reading culture amongst students.

Profiling DFRHCE on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

Profiling DFRHCE on World Telecommunication and Information Society Day

Located in the heart of Olodi Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria, Dako Foundation for Rural Healthcare and Education (DFRHCE) is a humanitarian organisation  established in 2008 and focused on improving the living conditions of disadvantaged communities in Nigeria through advocacy, education, public health measures and direct medical interventions. DAKO’s target groups include, under 5 children, women of reproductive ages, youths, People with Disabilities, People Living with HIV/AIDS and the society at large.

The Foundation’s works cut across Lagos, Edo and Imo States of Nigeria with relentless focus on rural and extremely hard to reach areas. Some of the projects implemented by DAKO foundation include:

  • Ibienafe’s School Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Project:

At Ibienafe community, South-Ibie, Edo State, Nigeria, Igebo primary school and Ibienafe community secondary school,  were most fortunate to be beneficiaries of the Information and Communication Technology project which championed the donation of ICT tools to the two community schools. Through this project, hundreds of students in Ibienafe, South-Ibie, Edo State are now computer literates while about ten primary and five secondary schools in adjourning six communities would also ultimately benefit from the laudable ICT project.

Facilities provided:

– 7 desktop computers with accessories.

– Computer desks and chairs for students.

– 5000-watt century stabilizer

– 5KVA generator for power.

–  A trained resident ICT tutor

–  Quarterly technical maintenance.

  • Biomedical HIV programmes

As part of efforts to achieve the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on the 90–90–90 targets aimed at diagnosing 90% of all HIV-positive persons, provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 90% of those diagnosed and achieve viral suppression for 90% of those treated by 2020,  DAKO foundation has through a line up of activities ensured the implementation and realization of this goal in Lagos and Edo States.

Activities Include:

–  HIV Counselling and Testing

–  Referrals and contact tracing for Positive individuals

–  Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on HIV/AIDS

– Condom (Male and Female) demonstrations and distribution

– Advocacy on HIV prevention.

  • Medical Missions/Outreaches

General health sensitization, medical consultations and treatments, referrals/follow up, free drugs, free eye checks and glasses, vitamin A supplementation and deworming (chewable albendazole) for school children, provision of Insecticide Treated Nets, referrals and medical procedures particularly for cases requiring surgery are also part of activities embarked upon by Dako Foundation in recent times. These activities have reached well over 10,000 rural dwellers in Lagos, Edo and Imo states.

In the process, there was a record of 90 dewormed children: 90 free eye glasses; 273 general treatments; 38 distributed water treatment units; 2 distributed wheel chairs and a clutch.

  • Post Flood Disaster Intervention for Victims of Flood

The aim of this outreach which reached over 5,132 people was to alleviate the pains inflicted on flood-ravaged areas of Anegbette, Osomegbe and EkperiUdaba, Etsako Central Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria.

Impacts: Distributed antifungal drugs; Distributed easy to use water sanitizing units with storage; Distributed food items;Distributed clothes to community dwellers; Distributed lifesaving prenatal and post-natal multivitamin supplements to pregnant and lactating women; Vitamin A supplementation for children; Medical consultation, prescription and treatment of local prevailing diseases.

  • Free Medical Surgery

During a medical mission in Edo State, Nigeria in 2016, DFRHCE came across little Amira aged 18 months who was born with brain tumor. For four years now, Amira has been under direct sponsorship by DFRHCE with free medical care at Dako Medical Centre, Lagos, Nigeria. So far, two surgeries have been done on Amira. The first surgery was conducted in the Emirates with the aim of removing the brain tumor followed by a second surgery carried out in Nigeria to repair Cleft palate and Cleft lip.

  • Water Project

An estimated 13,000 people were reached at the construction of a 40 feet high scaffolding to carry 10,000 liters of water reservoir with underground water extension pipes and taps in two communities(Iyerekhu, South –Ibie) Edo State, Nigeria.

PRESS FREEDOM: A PRINCIPAL PILLAR TO GOOD GOVERNANCE

PRESS FREEDOM: A PRINCIPAL PILLAR TO GOOD GOVERNANCE

As the world focuses on development media, its obvious control especially on the corridors of power cannot be overlooked. For the grand health of any democracy, access to information is most essential and press Freedom, a most effective instrument for a functional democratic system acts as a foundation, a resounding expression, too important to be ignored in a democratic society.

The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”. Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through various media; as seen in the modern day electronic media and publications. Such freedom implies the absence of interference from over-reacting leaders. Hostility expressed by leaders towards the media incites violence, in fact it fuels fear for journalists which does not give room to act as watchdog of democracy.

So many theories have defined press freedom, the Libertarian theory, however stands as theory-friendly to the modern-day freedom of the press, it argued that media does not need to be controlled because people would naturally follow their conscience, engage in public debate and create a better life for themselves.

According to Lyman Tower Sargent an American professor of political science, he opined that the seven types of liberty that compose a democratic ideology are: The right to vote; Freedom of speech; Freedom of the press; Freedom of assembly; Freedom of religion; Freedom of movement and Freedom from arbitrary treatment by the political and legal system.

This year’s global theme for World Press Freedom Day is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”. Information is power, hence it must be timely, concise, clear and reliable. As powerful as information is, it must be curtailed to some point such that false information does not degenerate to Hate Speech or related offences. Currently in Nigeria, any person who publishes defamatory matter is liable to one-year imprisonment, where the person who publishes the defamatory matter and aware that it is false is liable to two years imprisonment.

In line with goal 16 of the SDGs which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, accountability and transparency, the United Nations General Assembly hence declared May 3rd as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of the press and remind governments of their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression enshrined under Article 19 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a close reminder to the entire world that in dozens of countries, several publications still remain censored, fined and suspended; while investigative journalists, editors and publishers are continuously harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered in extreme pursuit of stories.

According to the World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders, every year, RWB (2019) establishes a ranking of countries in terms of their freedom of the press. Norway remains still the country with the best press freedom in the world followed by Finland and Sweden ranked second and third on the index, respectively. Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand and Jamaica also ranked top. Several authoritarian regimes have fallen in the Index.  The countries with the least degree of press freedom are China, Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan.

Since the inception of this index in 2013, many African countries have struggled to climb up the ladder. In 2016, Nigeria recorded a decline on the world ranking, falling from 111 to 116; 2018 was no better, the country recorded another fall, moving from 116 to 119 out of 180 countries, year 2019 records 120 on the Index. This is indeed sad.

New record shows that eight journalists have been killed across the world in 2017, while more than 193 are currently imprisoned. Although Nigerian journalists are not so included on death lists. However, Journalists continue to face harassment without protection of the law even in Nigeria. Journalists are often times threatened, subjected to physical violence and even denied access to information by government officials, police officers and sometimes even the public.

Need we be reminded that if the press is constantly controlled, its ability to investigate and expose corruption, bribery, mismanagement, waste, embezzlement and other vices in democratic societies might just be truncated.

Yet again, according to libertarian theory on press freedom, the theory prescribes that an individual should be free to publish what he likes, holding and expressing his or her opinion freely. Obviously, libertarian theory advocates that the press must be seen as partner with government in search of the truth, rather than a tool in the hands of government, a good guide for media practitioners in their quest to helping nations, particularly developing nations grow. While The Social Responsibility Theory opines that the media have obligations to the society, owing them truth and objectivity, the media must ensure to religiously follow agreed codes of ethics and professional conducts to safeguarding public interest.

“Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies. All states, all Nations, are strengthened by information, debate and the exchange of opinions. At a time of growing discourse of mistrust and delegitimization of the press and journalism, it is essential that we guarantee freedom of opinion through the free exchange of ideas and information based on factual truth” Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.

 

 

THE PASSION THAT CONNECTS- Celebrating Sports for Development and Peace

THE PASSION THAT CONNECTS- Celebrating Sports for Development and Peace

In the last two decades, there has been a concerted effort to re-mobilize sport as a vehicle for broad, sustainable social development, especially in the most disadvantaged communities in the world.

According to WIKIPEDIA, sports include all forms of competitive, physical activity which through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment for spectators.

The UN system also defines sports in the context of development and peace as all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction, such as play, recreation, organized or competitive sport, indigenous sports and games for the attainment of specific development and peace objectives.

For centuries, the role and impact of sports in the society has been a subject of debate. For some observers, sport is a physical activity always associated with competition among teams or nations for the pride and glory of winning, while for some it is a sort of pure entertainment.

Sports; games and physical activities are present in virtually every society, its popularity transcends political, national and ideological borders. While it remains the most unifying and networking tool for peace in the world, sport is a passion shared by women and men world over. It is a force for physical well-being and social empowerment. Research reveals that since the advent of Olympics in 1896, more athletes have come to agree that sports unite the world.

Football for instance, the most popular game in the world, is estimated by FIFA in 2007 to be played by about 2 billion people, while other games such as cricket, basketball and baseball, attract the interest of millions more worldwide.

2005 saw the establishment of the United Nations Office for Sport, Development and Peace (UNOSDP), with an objective to raise awareness about the use of physical activity, sport and play as powerful development tools in the advancement of development and peace.

UNESCO also indicates that to achieve the goals of peace and development, it is important to recognize the cultural dimensions of sport. Additionally, several agencies within the UN system (UNDP, WHO, ILO, IOM) also use sport as a factor in their projects for peace and development, hence the declaration of 6th April as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, to celebrate the contribution of sports and physical activity to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world.

The international Day of Sport for Development and Peace is a day when some of the world’s sports’ finest work together with community sports with the aim of enriching the lives of children and youth world over.

In more recent years, the use of sport to tackle issues related to equality and social justice emerged as a response from different sectors to even instances of violence and intolerance especially in most disadvantaged communities in the world while promoting good education, quality health-care, development and peace in its wake.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development further reveals and acknowledges sport’s role for social progress: it clearly emphasizes the need for developed countries in aiding developing countries to achieve a “global partnership for development” and sport is definitely one good source of this partnership.

Further studies conducted by The Population Council and Harvard School of Public Health, evidenced the importance of sports through development and its positive effects on children and youth. These studies have also documented grassroots soccer model’s effectiveness in significantly improving students’ knowledge, attitudes, communication and decision-making skills.

This progress so much so influenced FIFA to launch the Football for Hope initiative in 2005 to help improve the lives of youth world over.

WHAT SPORTS CAN DO FOR YOU

  • Playing sports helps reduce body fat and controls body weight.
  • Sports can help you fight depression and anxiety.
  • Sports allows you to challenge yourself and set goals.
  • Sports help aid coordination, balance and flexibility.
  • Sports can help improve stamina and concentration.
  • Sports allow you to experience the highs and lows of winning and losing
  • Sports are a great way of bonding with families and friends.
  • If you are into sports, you are more likely to have a healthy life.

Every year, physical inactivity leads to an estimated 3.2 million deaths. This is why UNESCO joined forces with the World Health Organization to combat sedentary lifestyles, starting with quality and inclusive physical education for all youths which has considerable benefited children and youth in several countries.

In many countries, opportunities to participate in sports are limited by significant infrastructural, social and political barriers. For example, people with disabilities are marginalized in many societies, thus preventing their active involvement in sports.

And so as the world stays true to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world must do all to support sport to ensuring no one is left behind. Sport leaders and lovers must be ready to demonstrate commitment to creating a better world, despite shortcomings like geographic and social barriers.

Regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, we cannot take away the special love the world has for sports, it is enjoyed by all and sundry, sports build self-esteem, physical and mental health and nurtures positive connections with many.

The rights of every person to engage in sports must be respected and should be enforced worldwide. Government, Corporate Bodies, public and private sectors must all come together to create a world for sports which must not only be considered as a form of entertainment but rather an important investment in our present and our future for a lasting peace and development.

 Jaldhaara Foundation on World Water Day

At Jaldhaara Foundation, it is everything freshwater. Jaldhaara Foundation’s slogan ‘Quenching A Bigger Thirst Nigeria’ speaks volume on the essential need of water for all Nigerians.

With the foundation’s 5-point Agenda, JF aims to make available fresh water for left-behind communities in Nigeria.

Incorporated to remediate the problems in the areas of Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), JF has been able to streamline the percentage of those who are short of fresh water while vigorously working on a quick and effective impact as regards clean water.

By 2020, Jaldhaara Foundation plans to drive the WASH objectives in a large number of communities by implementing sustainable WASH solutions in over two thousand (2,000) communities and by building preference for safe water, sanitation and hygienic practices in unaddressed, isolated and marginalized communities.

By virtue of expansion and in the bid to make fresh water accessible to all, Jaldhaara Foundation together with an established strong partnership with Water Health Nigeria and other related organizations intend to have a structured phase approach which is meant to address the life cycle of water management (i.e. water provision, purification and waste water management) to the marginalized communities, which include: communities and habitations that are underserved and face significant water contamination.

*Jaldhaara Foundation will provide safe drinking water access to these communities through the conventional model i.e. a WHC.

*About 140 communities will definitely have safe water access.

The intention also extends to installation of 140 WHCs across various communities in Nigeria which would mean that more than 4 million people will have safe water access which would automatically result in the reduction of waterborne disease with an increase in annual savings in households due to reduction in medical expenses.

World Tuberculosis Day with Abraham’s Children Foundation

World Tuberculosis Day with Abraham’s Children Foundation

On World Tuberculosis (TB) day, Olaife Ilori speaks with Victor Dorawa Koreyo, Executive Director, Abraham’s Children Foundation. Here is what he has to say about TB, its causes, symptoms and available treatment:

 

*What is TB?

Tuberculosis (also known as “TB”) is a disease caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

*What is the difference between TB infection and TB disease?

Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a germ called Mycobacterium tuberculosis that is spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidneys and the spine. It is very important to note that the TB infection is different from the TB disease.

Persons with TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. They are infected with M. tuberculosis, but do not have TB disease. The only sign of TB infection is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB blood test. So while persons with TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others, the TB disease is infectious and can be spread from one person to another.

*Is TB disease dangerous?

Tuberculosis Disease has been plaguing humankind for thousands of years; it has been and still one of the deadliest infectious diseases in the world.

*How common is the TB disease?

About one-quarter of the world’s population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria. People infected with TB bacteria have a 5–15% lifetime risk of falling ill with TB.

*What is “smear-negative” TB?

Although patients with sputum smear–negative, can transmit infection, indeed, but they have been presumed to be far less infectious than patients who are sputum smear–positive. However, quantitative data are limited regarding the proportion of TB transmission that is attributable to patients with smear-negative.

 

*What is a TB contact?

Tuberculosis (TB) contact means having close contact with patients with infectious TB. As they are at high risk of infecting non-patients (and in line with the End TB strategy), TB contacts should be investigated systematically and actively for TB infection and disease so it does not spread.

 

*What is TB exposure?

You may have been exposed to TB bacteria if you have spent time with someone with TB disease. The TB bacteria goes into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings.

*What are the symptoms of TB?

  • Coughing that lasts three or more weeks.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Weight loss.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.

*How does TB spread?

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. However, not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.

*Do You Think TB Patients Need to Be Put in Isolation?

Persons who have or are suspected of having TB disease should be placed in an area away from other patients without the disease, preferably in an airborne infection isolation room.

*What is the incubation period of TB disease?

The incubation period of TB disease may vary, but it is usually from 2 to 12 weeks.

*What tests determine whether a person has Tb? are those tests safe for pregnant women?

A positive TB skin test or TB blood test tells that a person has been infected with TB bacteria. It does not tell whether the person has latent TB infection (LTBI) or has progressed to TB disease. Other tests, such as a chest x-ray and a sample of sputum, are needed to see whether the person has TB disease.

TB skin testing is considered both valid and safe throughout pregnancy. TB blood tests also are safe to use during pregnancy, but have not been evaluated for diagnosing TB infection in pregnant women.

*How best should TB Disease be treated?

Treating TB takes longer than treating other types of bacterial diseases. However, for active tuberculosis, the treatment usually consists of a combination of TB drugs that must be taken for at least 6 months. But the treatment will only be successful if the drugs are taken exactly as required for the entire length of time.

*What is DOT and why use DOT?

Directly Observed Treatment(DOT) is the name given to the tuberculosis (TB) control strategy recommended by the World Health Organization. According to WHO, “The most cost-effective way to stop the spread of TB in communities with a high incidence is by curing it through Directly Observed Treatment.

*According to World Health Organization (WHO), between 2000-2014, approximately 43 million lives were saved through diagnosis and treatment. In what way is your organization helping to ensure this disease is kept under wrap?

A massive challenge glares us all in Nigeria especially with the high rate of this disease. That I am wearied beholding the burden even in a community like (Afikpo North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State) is an understatement. As an NGO, we want to redefine the Nigerian health care through speedy treatment of malaria, HIV/AIDS and especially TB. Results of our impactful services in partnership with Afikpo North in the area of TB control is quite encouraging already and i am sure with this step in the right direction, TB Disease will be eradicated by 2030 hopefully.

World Down Syndrome Day -An Interview with DEWDROPS CARE DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

World Down Syndrome Day -An Interview with DEWDROPS CARE DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION

With the aim to LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND while ensuring that people with Down Syndrome have equal opportunities to a rewarding and a fulfilling life, NNNGO’s Olaife Ilori, on World Down Syndrome Day, spoke with Grace Bakare, Author of THE PLIGHT OF PARENT RAISING CHILDREN WITH DOWN SYNDROME and Founder, Dewdrops Care Development Foundation.

Grace highlighted the challenges that come with DS and how she has been able to give her daughter the best. “My daughter does not have special needs; my daughter has the same needs as anyone else. She has a need to live at home with her family. She has the need for a good education, good friends, mad fun and a supportive family”

THE INTERVIEW : THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF A MOTHER

WHAT IS DOWN SYNDROME?

Down syndrome is a common birth defect that is caused by an extra chromosome 21 (trisomy 21). It causes mental retardation, a characteristically facial appearance, and multiple malformations. It is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. Down syndrome occurs in approximately 1,700 live births. Abnormalities are varied from individual to individual, common features include; flat face with short nose, prominent skin folds, and small low-set ears.

WHAT CAUSES DOWN SYNDROME?

While doctors are not sure why there is this birth defect with the extra chromosome 21, statistics show that women of 35 years and above have a higher chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. Normally, each cell in our body has 23 pairs of chromosomes. One chromosome in each pair comes from the mother while the other comes from the father. In Down syndrome, there are three copies, either complete or partial, of chromosome 21.

HAVE PARENTS DONE ANYTHING WRONG TO HAVE THEIR BABIES BORN WITH DOWN SYNDROME?

There is no link to anything in the environment or anything the parents did or did not do. If one has already had a child with Down syndrome, it is most likely to have another. It is not common, but it is possible to pass Down Syndrome from parent to child. Sometimes a parent has what experts call ‘’translocated’’ genes. That means some of their genes are not in their normal place.

SOME PEOPLE BELIEVE DOWN SYNDROME IS CONNECTED WITH SOME VOODOO OR DARK POWERS, HOW TRUE IS THIS MYTH?

Down syndrome has nothing to do with black magic, dark powers, or voodoo. There is no evidence to-date that it connects DS to do any shadowy, indistinct and nebulous folk tales.

IS IT OKAY TO ABORT THE BABY IF PRE-NATAL TESTING REVEALS THE CHILD IS DOWN WITH THE SYNDROME?

I believe it is not okay. It is an abortion which is seen as grave sin in my family. Some people believe terminating the pregnancy after early pre-natal diagnosis is right while others in the religious and anti-abortion group believe it is a sin. In the United States each year, more than 6,000 babies with Down syndrome are born, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, however, almost none are born in Iceland, that is because nearly 100% of women in Iceland who receive a positive test for Down syndrome choose to terminate the pregnancy. In fact the law permit abortions after 16 weeks if the foetus has a deformity. Iceland is not alone in having high termination rates. In Denmark, 98% of pregnancies with a Down Syndrome diagnosis are terminated. In France, it is 77% while United States reads 67%. In Nigeria Down Syndrome families are divided over aborting at pre-natal testing, but major cases of Down Syndrome births are not reported because of the traditional belief that are still associated with witchcraft.

WHICH PARENT DOES DOWN SYNDROME COME FROM?

It could either be from the father or the mother or from both, but it is widely believed that the gene is from the mother. It is a common knowledge that when women age, so are their chances of having a baby with a genetic abnormality. The most common form of Down syndrome is known as trisomy 21, a condition where individuals have 47 chromosomes in each cell instead of 46, Trisomy 21 is caused by an error in cell division which leaves a sperm or egg cell with an extra copy of chromosomes 21 before or at conception.

HOW WILL A CHILD WITH DOWN SYNDROME AFFECT THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY?

Having a child with Down syndrome will affect everyone in the immediate family, most especially young couples. When faced with life’s complexities, one is rendered speechless. At the birth of my daughter Oluwafemi Bakare, my husband was almost questioning my fidelity. ‘’Are you sure you have not been having extra marital affairs? I hope you are not cursed? These are some of the battalion questions my husband asked, while I kept pondering over my entire past misdeeds and judging myself. Whether you are an Agnostic, Atheist, Christian, Ethicist, Hindu, Jew, Moslem, Pagan, etc. you sometimes arrive at a point where you question your belief and wonder if the alternative is a better choice. It is at this point you would ask, “how do I speak with an angel?” an angel of any faith that will give you an answer. How does someone raise a child with Down syndrome and remain sane? How? How does one deal with the long therapy sessions and the bills that come with it? Is it their educational progress or skill acquisition as the case may be? This makes it even more challenging because of the birth defects. Indeed, having a child with Down Syndrome will create a lot of challenges, that is if it does not break the marriage sef.

 

IS DOWN SYNDROME CONTAGIOUS?

Down Syndrome is non-infectious or contagious. It only affects the one who has it. It is congenital which means, a person is born with it. No one gets Down Syndrome later in life. It is one of the most common genetic birth defects that happens to a child.

DO YOU THINK THE SOCIETY EMBRACES/ACCEPTS PEOPLE WITH DOWN SYNDROME?

In some parts of Nigeria, children with Down Syndrome are still hidden and locked behind closed doors for some parents are ashamed of taking them out. But recently, attitudes towards Down Syndrome have shifted considerably. Before now, children with Down syndrome were automatically institutionalized and many of them died due to some health-related challenges. But in the latter part of the 20th century, advocacy for people with Down syndrome has been significantly pronounced, children with Down syndrome have begun attending general public schools, have professional jobs and families which has made them a whole lot more independent. The life expectancy for people with Down syndrome has also increased significantly in recent times.

ARE THERE SPECIAL PROGRAMMES FOR CHILDREN WITH DS WHICH WOULD HELP THEM BECOME INDEPENDENT IN ALL SPHERES OF THEIR LIVES?

The most important influence on early development is daily interaction and activities with families. Families are encouraged to access early learning and intervention services that are available from infancy. This will support the development of some of the most important early childhood skills. Early intervention programs are helping children reach their potentials, with this in line, they can graduate to post school training or tertiary institutions.

AS A PARENT OF A DOWN-SYNDROME CHILD, HOW DID YOU RECEIVE THE NEWS AND HOW DO YOU COPE WITH TOUGH DAYS?

When I learnt that my baby had Down syndrome, I was shocked. Twelve years later, I look back and wish I could have encouraged myself much more than I did. Upon receiving my daughter’s prenatal diagnosis, I remember feeling a sense of soul-crushing hopelessness. Hopelessness of what my daughter’s life would be like. Hopelessness of what the diagnosis meant for me as a parent. Hopelessness of how different our family would be from the one I had imagined. I was changed forever with the news of having a daughter with Down syndrome. Today, looking back, I have come to replace that anxiety, sorrow and anger with strength, courage, dignity and determination. There was that stereotyped thought linked with DS; I imagined a life of zero potential, a life spent trapped in a corner unable to have a fulfilling life. An imagination which turned out exactly the opposite. Even during very trying days and I feel like giving up, Grace, my daughter with her beautiful almond-shaped eyes and captivating smile makes all the challenges surmountable.

WHAT WORRIES YOU ABOUT HER FUTURE?

What worries me about her future is in the area of marriage. The day she will leave me to stay on her own, who will be there for her like I do. But I know she will do just fine with or without me.

IS THERE TREATMENT FOR DOWN SYNDROME?

Yes, there are treatments for Down syndrome. Early intervention programmes with a team of therapists and special educators who can treat each child’s specific situation are helpful in managing Down syndrome children.

IS THERE A CURE FOR DOWN SYNDROME?

Down syndrome cannot be cured. However, early treatment can help many people with Down syndrome have productive lives. Children with Down syndrome can often benefit from speech therapy, occupational therapy and exercises to help improve their motor skills.

WHAT IS THE LIFE EXPECTANCY OF PEOPLE WITH DOWN SYNDROME?

With appropriate medical care, most children and adults with Down syndrome can lead healthy lives. The average life expectancy of individuals with Down syndrome is 60 years with many living into their 60’s and 70’s.

WHAT ADVISE DO YOU GIVE TO THAT FAMILY WITH A DOWN SYNDROME CHILD AND TO THAT DOWN SYNDROME CHILD WHO WISHES TO EXCEL IN LIFE?

A most useful advice I can give to a family with Down syndrome child is to learn as much as possible about the chromosomal disorder so they can deal with it squarely. Parents can also join an online parent forum or attend different seminars about living with a child with Down syndrome. And as the child grows, you can work with different therapists who would help improve their skills.

To that Down syndrome child who wishes to excel in life, I will preach FAITH, HOPE and DETERMINATION. Irrespective of any jest or bully made out of the child, he must keep the vision of where he is going vivid and alive, having it at the back of his mind that abilities abound in disabilities.

Celebrating NNNGO’s Gender-Focused Membership

Celebrating NNNGO’s Gender-Focused Membership

ONYEMAECHI HOPE FOR THE HELPLESS FOUNDATION

Emerged in 2007 to care for the less privileged, give hope to the poor and the helpless, OHHF focuses on good health and well-being; education and poverty; gender equality and women empowerment.

OHHF believes that for women to reach their full potentials there is need for advocacy and sensitization on gender equality, women liberation and access to quality education for the girl child.

The foundation’s achievements could be seen in the areas of Health: Free Medical Check Up/Treatment and Distribution of Insecticide Treated Nets to the less privileged in Enugu and Anambra states; Motherless Babies Home Visitation(Visit to Red Cross Motherless Babies Home Onitsha in Anambra state, 2017); Scholarship Awards with a major focus on widow empowerment cum free medical treatment also in 2017 at Central School Umunevo  Amagunze, Nkanu East LGA Enugu State Nigeria with a record of over one hundred beneficiaries.

On International Women’s Day, Onyemaechi Hope For The Helpless Foundation’s message to women world over, especially to (THAT CAREER WOMAN) is Learn to see criticism, comments and notes from your bosses as an avenue for development. Even if the criticisms sting, move on and become a better YOU. Having a thicker skin is for the best for “no one has time to hold your hands and give you a cookie over every assignment that comes your way”.

PHELYN SKILL ACQUISITION CENTER

Phelyn Skill Acquisition Center aims to create employment, reduce poverty and enhance economic independence among Nigerian women and youths.

Established to tackle the challenge of gender inequality, hunger and poverty, the center is proud to contributing to create free business development courses to enable women improve their skills. In her five years of establishment PSAC has trained, empowered and have a record of well over 3000 beneficiaries across the 36 states of the federation.

With a strong core value in gender justice and fairness, Phelyn Skill Acquisition Center together with her partners (NDE, SMEDAN, NYSC, UNIDO HP LIFE and Youth Alive Foundation) have been able to implement laudable projects on women empowerment which include vocational trainings on production of beaded necklace, hat/fascinators, batik, tie and dye and event decorations. Also through their efforts, PSCA facilitates empowerment programmes on cake/pastries and digital literacy; participated on Women and Web Alliance Project by World Pulse where 60 youth corps members were taught on how to maximize the use of their time with mobile phones without internet access.

CONCLUSION

Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. The 21st century is the century for change and the planet earth is ready. The 21st century woman has to fight to change the status quo that created inequality, the we have always done it this way syndrome, which opines that women must be seen and not heard must be stopped, a change which will radically gain an unprecedented momentum. The time is NOW, the time is ripe for women of all races to come together and be the harbinger of the new change and so it is with a consensus that education is the key for women’s liberation while equal access to health care, decent work, representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel the much-needed sustainable economies which would pave way to A BALANCED WORLD for a balanced world would in every way birth a BETTER WORLD.

WOMAN: The Untapped Reservoir

WOMAN: The Untapped Reservoir

Since the existence of human, women have always been the inferior gender. Society over time has placed labels amongst the two genders (man and woman). For men, they are: superior, the provider, the shield and head of the family. While women have been labelled as the: inferior, weak, house/home keeper and child bearer.

Women from past centuries have amazingly changed the world which have in some ways paved way for a better society. During the historical period, several women achieved awesome goals but still remained unequal and inferior to men. The historical woman could not vote, hold an everyday job nor a place in politics. They primarily managed the home front, they were seen and not heard, they had voice but were voiceless.

And so came the gender parity, the fundamental human right.

The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men. Since then, the UN has helped create a historic legacy of internationally-agreed strategies, standards, programmes and goals for women so they could stand as equal partners with men in achieving respect, sustainable development, peace and security.

The United Nations thus declared 1975 through 1985 DECADE FOR WOMEN. Four world conferences on women were held; Mexico City 1975, Copenhagen 1980, Nairobi 1985 and 1995 Beijing Conference. These conferences directed searchlight on a variety of issues affecting the status of women in the society, the issues which include; Violence against women; Women’s Rights; Women’s Reproductive Health et all.

Since those early years, International Women’s Day has thus begun to assume a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. The growing international women’s movement, which has been strengthened by these four global United Nations women’s conferences, have helped to build support for women’s rights and participation. Celebrated in many countries around the world, IWD is a day for women’s recognition for their social, economic, cultural and political achievements, a day which calls to action for accelerating gender parity for global transformation.

No doubt, the 21st century will be the century of the female gender, that is if the world is indeed ready to embrace this paradigm shift. Women today are much different than historical women. The modern woman is consumed with many obligations, duties and responsibilities. Women are beginning to step out of their historical role of house manager dependents to a more independent, sophisticated gender. The roles of women in the society have significantly changed, goals and opportunities are more abundant for women and the modern woman is taking advantage of them in a positive and healthy way.

Today, women can vote and be voted for; the political space is present (although still narrow); today’s women have career choices and are more diligent so much so that they are beginning to have rising wages. Today, more than 70% of women work full time or part-time paid jobs which contributes an emphatic part of households’ income. Sadly, this social phenomenon is breeding profound changes that carries financial, emotional and psychological implications for both men and women, particularly in a conservative society as ours.

World over, there is increasingly an understanding of the need to unleash the untapped potential of women. There are evidences to show that when women participate even in leadership, the impacts extend far beyond the ordinary.

Common with women all over the world, African women face a variety of social, economic, legal and political constraints. Indeed, some laws somewhere still treat women as MINORS. We hear that in Congo, a woman must have her husband’s consent to open a bank account.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with approximate 180 million citizens (CIA World Fact Book 2015) recent studies reveal that modern Nigerian women are on the lowest ladder of you name it area. Nigeria with her male dominated environs have women as subordinates and underrepresented, report shows that in the nation’s 8th National Assembly, women occupy just 7 out of 109 Senate seats and only 22 out of 360 seats in the House of Representatives.

Political inclusion for women should be a fundamental aspect of modern democracy in Nigeria and world over and so the female gender must be encouraged. Improved representation of women have massive impacts so much so that testimonies of improved policy changes, more friendly laws (especially for married women), economic growth, sustainable peace and development abound.

Women who successfully combine careers with families have been termed lucky but the irony of life is that all may not come out with such luck, for there is a rise in marital instability as evidently seen in the last two decades; domestic violence; promiscuity; child marriage; human trafficking (International Labor Organization estimates that there are about 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, 55% of whom are women and girls).

Be that as it may, women have exceeded much expectations with their numerous hands working magic; a modern day woman can simultaneously work on her laptop, cook in the kitchen, tend to a teary-eyed baby, do laundry and still attend to the sexual needs of her husband. Regardless of all these responsibilities, she strives still to thrive even in her chosen career.