It’s difficult being a woman in this clime, more difficult living with sickle cell disease —Adenle-Oluwole
Tunrayo Adenle-Oluwole, an entrepreneur, advocate, makeup artist and founder of Sickle Women International (SWINT) Foundation, in this interview with YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE speaks on her life, living with sickle cell disease, her foundation and poor sensitization about sickle cell in Nigeria among other issues.
HOW would you describe yourself?
I am a wife, mother, a winning warrior, an entrepreneur, sickle cell disease women advocate and the founder of Sickle Women International (SWINT) Foundation also known as Sickle Moms. I am God-fearing; what you will call an introvert, hard working, a lover of peace and humanity.
What about your background?
I was born into a middle class polygamous home about 40 years ago in the city of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. By the grace of God, I am the only standing warrior out of three in the family. I had all my school life from elementary to tertiary right in the city of Ibadan.
What is responsible for your passion about people managing sickle cell, especially women?
It is difficult being a woman in this clime but it’s more difficult living with sickle cell disease at the same time because it is not easy combining their health challenge with marriage, motherhood and career. Hence, majority of them end up single, lonely, depressed and many contemplate suicide. This is why I am passionate about them, because I believe they need encouragement and a platform where they can relate with others and get adequate information necessary for survival.
What is SWINT foundation about?
SWINT foundation is mainly focused on improving the standard of living of women living with sickle cell disease so they can live a healthy fulfilled life and overcome everyday life issues that besiege them especially due to their medical condition, thereby impacting the society positively and contributing their quota to community development.
You are also a make-up artist. How do you combine these?
Make-up artistry is my profession while SWINT foundation grew out of passion and a vision by God to give back to humanity. None affects the other because they are not the same. And the timing is also different.
What is a day in your professional life like?
I take each day as it comes priotising my itinerary and putting my health first. Each day comes with its own challenges and no day is the same with the other. I have learnt to tackle the challenge brought by each day as it comes.
What peculiar challenges do women with sickle cell disease face?
The major challenge faced by women with sickle cell disease is the challenge of self-acceptance and stigmatisation. It takes a balanced person to take the situation in her stride, especially when people treat you like you are not human and you suffer for a situation that is not in your power to change.
How would you rate sensitisation about women with this condition to ensure they get adequate care and health information?
At the moment, sensitisation is poorly handled by government and advocates in respect to women living with sickle cell disease. More of the advocacy is concentrated on children and young adults and little is done about them after they leave this stage. They are forgotten after they transition into full grown adult women. Because of this neglect and inadequacy, a lot of women living with sickle cell disease don’t achieve their full potential and are somehow satisfied with being at the background. That is why SWINT foundation is out to encourage them to add value to themselves. Go to school, learn a trade or skill, live a good life and rise above limitations. I implore the government and the society to use this time as the World Sickle Cell Day comes up on June 19 to look into the plight of women living with sickle cell disease.
Do you think women are exploring their potential for leadership?
No; not at all. Women are not doing enough to explore their leadership potential; That is why we at SWINT foundation are out to encourage and assist women living with SCD to attain full potential in life.
How does you funding affect what you do?
Funding is essential in every way but our passion has kept us going. I have had to depend on personal funds in addition to support from family and friends to get things done and make a difference.
Which aspect of what you do is most enjoyable to you?
Putting smiles on the faces of the people and being a pillar of support to people that need it during the time of challenges. This gives me joy and keeps me going.
Do you train volunteers to make the work easier?
Yes, we train volunteers because we need as many people as possible to make a difference.
How can you sensitise the public on issues bordering on health of women living with sickle cell disease?
What we do is inform and educate the public on what the blood disorder is about and let them know that women living with sickle cell disease can live a meaningful life and attain full potential with adequate care and support.
What are your thoughts on women striving for financial independence?
It is very important. Financial independence is key and non-negotiable for every woman, especially at this period.
What is your opinion on the state of abuse, especially of children and women, in Nigeria?
It’s really sad, disheartening and pathetic. I’m of the opinion that there should be a legislation that will protect the children and women and there should be strict enforcement.
With the unemployment rate so high, would you say entrepreneurship is the way to go?
Everyone needs to embrace entrepreneurship now because the salary can only take you home but can’t take you places. So, I will say yes.
What inspires you?
The word of God; that is the scriptures. Anointed books and nature inspire me every day.
What is your guiding principle?
What you make happen for others God will make happen for you.
What advice do you have for women with similar vision and condition?
Be focused, be resilient and keep moving at your pace. Don’t ever give up.
If you are not doing this, what would you be doing?
Maybe I would be a minister of the gospel
What in your background prepared you for this?
My growing up years and living with sickle cell disease myself.
How long have you been into this?
It has been innate for years as I have been encouraging and counseling women with sickle cell disease for a long while, but it kicked off officially as a foundation about a year ago.
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