Friday, May 07, 2021

Know Your Genotype, Help Stop the Pain-- Miss Adaora Stephanie Nwodo



 Many Nigerians and individuals in the world at large are suffering from Sickle Cell Anaemia and this is quite traumatizing considering that the problem is not a result of the sufferers but ignorance of the parents of the sufferers. This trauma is what Miss Adaora Stephanie Nwodo, CEO of Miss Dee for Sickle Cell foundation,  a Non-Governmental Organization set up to create awareness of the sickle cell disease and cater to the less privileged living with the ailment in Nigeria addresses.


May we know you ma, what is your name?

 My name is Miss Adaora Stephanie Nwodo.
I am the first daughter and the second child of His Excellency Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo. I am from Enugu State. I Schooled in Birmingham City University in the UK where I Studied Law and Masters in Human resource Management and
Marketing. I am the founder of the Miss Dee for Sickle Cell foundation,  a Non-Governmental Organization set up to create awareness of the sickle cell disease and cater to the less privileged living with the ailment in Nigeria.

Wow, so from law to human resources to philanthropy, you must be a determined and passion driven lady. We are curious to know, why Sickle Cell?

Well I am a lawyer by profession but I don’t practice. The Nigerian legal system is just not ready for me yet (laughs). As for human resource management, I still do that, I mean I run an NGO and so every day I manage humans. Sickle cell is a cause I am extremely passionate about. I grew up in a family where I had and have relatives who suffer from this disorder. I have lost family members and friends to this ailment and hence it hits home for me. Sickle cell is a Condition that is completely avoidable and preventable. The sufferers which we like to call warriors do not deserve to be born into this life of pain, its brought upon them by not fault of theirs but ignorance and selfishness of their parents, hence my vow to educate as many Nigerians as I can on the need to know their genotype and the consequences of bringing forth children with sickle cell to the world.

Going back a bit, how did it all happen? At what point did you decide you were going to venture into this part and how long has it been?

This was way back in 2009 when I returned to Nigeria after my Masters Degree education at Nigerian law school. On arrival to Nigeria my cousin was brainstorming on launching her own Sickle Cell foundation which she did eventually that year. It is called Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF). I joined them and we did amazing things. However in 2011, my idea of helping and vision for the cause changed. So I went on to register my own NGO ‘the Miss Dee for sickle cell foundation’ and we are 9 years in existence now. 

Wow 9 years, that's amazing, so tell us how it has been and support you have gotten so far (if any). 

It has been a long and tedious journey I must say. Getting funds in Nigeria for humanitarian causes is an uphill task simply because people have abused it.  Everyone now thinks all NGOs are thieves. So, honestly most of my works have been self-funded with the help of friends and well wishers here and there. We have managed to do over 1000 free genotype tests in Abuja municipal and awareness campaigns in schools and seminars since our inception. Also, with the help of the past Akwa-Ibom Governor, His Excellency, Goodswill Akpabio we were able to send our first patient in 2012 to India for skin redrafting surgery and other complications. Since then, we have been managing a few patients around Nigeria who are registered with us and supplying them with their monthly medications. It hasn't been easy trust me but I am determined to keep fighting for this cause.

You really are working and I pray God sends you the needed support and help you need. So please tell us, what is next for Miss Dee for Sickle Cell Foundation?

What next you know...(laughs). To be honest there is always something up and that is  Awareness! Awareness!! Awareness!!!. It's costing me ‘so so’ much to reach the desired audience to make an impact and difference due to some lack of support and funds. Hence, I decided this year to produce an awareness movie on sickle cell and life of warriors in Nigeria. It is based on true life stories of some of my warriors. The movie is called the "Crescent" and it features a number of TOP known acts who were generous enough to support the cause and come together to do this project.  The project was self funded by me and features the likes of Michelle Dede,  Ivie Okujaiye, Yakubu Mohammed, Ayoola Ayola, Iyke Okechukwu, Ifeanyi Kalu,  Chioma Omeruah, Tony Goodman, Nadia Butch, Kaziah Omesore, my humble self and the distinguished Senator Dino Melaye. 

That movie sounds exciting already. So when do we get to see the movie? 

Well, it takes a lot to produce a film, but by the grace of God, we did and it was out in genesis cinemas in November 2019. Hopefully it will be on more online platforms and cable TV soon.

 That's amazing. You are really a force to reckon with.

 Small me (smiles). We are barely where we hoped we will but in all we thank God for all we have been able to do.

 How can people contact you or your NGO for sponsorship or assistance? Do you have an office? 

We do! It is a helpdesk for registration and genotype testing at Hope Foundation Center, Jahi/Mabushi in Abuja. Below is our helpline and website where you can register as a volunteer or warrior. 

Our website is: www.missdeefoundation.org

Email address is missdee4sicklecellfoundation@gmail.com

Instagram is @missdeefoundation and our helpline is +2348091466689

To wrap it all up, any words of advice and encouragement to warriors out there and the government or donors?

First of all, I will like to say to all warriors out there that they are not alone in this journey. We are here to hold their hands and walk with them. They might fall; they might even stumble but will never crumble. They will always rise up again because that's what warriors do. 

 To the Government, something must be done and done fast to pass a bill to prohibit Nigerians from getting married without doing a genotype test and understanding the consequences of their intending actions. 

 To donors please we are not all thieves, some NGOs are genuine, kindly do your due diligence and support where needed. 

 Finally I pledge to continue to "Help Stop the Pain" Which is my Slogan. Thank You.


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