BY MUNTALLA INUSAH |email@example.com
THE FOUNDER of ‘The Feet of Grace Foundation,’ a non-governmental organisation (NGO) aimed at seeking support for amputees), Dr Irene Titilola Olumese, is appealing to civil society groups, corporate bodies and philanthropists to support the foundation raise GH¢30,000 to providing prosthetic legs for amputees to enable them to walk again.
The inspirational speaker, while urging all amputees not to give up even in the face of challenges, said, “Having missing limbs should not be a limitation of living a full life and to all the amputees out there, don’t give up on hope, as long as there is a will, there is a way. There are always people who have the kind of attention we have for amputees who will provide us with the support (money).”
Dr Olumese, a bilateral amputee who uses her story of ‘God’s grace sustaining her through the storm’ to inspire hope, made this known to the DAILY HERITAGE during the 4th edition of the foundation’s annual walk dubbed ‘Feet of Grace Charity Walk’.
Amputees must walk again
The Switzerland-based Nigerian said “we are on the dream of walking for amputees. Our idea is that being an amputee should not be a limitation to living life to the fullest and for every amputee has a dream and it’s just a dream that they are never sure it would come to pass if somebody else does not help us.
“We have decided that we will make that dream of living life to the overflowing come true for amputees, give them the opportunity to be able to walk again, so that is the message that has been carried out.”
According to the mother of two, ‘Feet of Grace’ (artificial legs) is what “I use to walk around, to go to places to inspire hope and encourage people who are going through challenges and adversities in life that there is grace in every storm of life.”
GH¢30, 000 needed for Ghana
The author of ‘Grace in The Storm’ said she came to work in Ghana in 2001 with UNICEF as a Nutrition Specialist in Tamale when her lungs collapsed in 2003. She was sent to the 37 Military Hospital for treatment, but she was later flown to Switzerland for further medical examination, hence the need to always return to the country to support amputees.
“We are targeting GH¢30, 000 for Ghana amputees because we have some amputees here to support. In Nigeria, for instance, we were supporting 10 amputees and we were able to raise the money for the 10 who are going to walk in Nigeria this year and we want to do same in Ghana.”
According to her, even though the support has been slow, “I am a very positive person and I know that sometimes you have to convince people to part with the money.
“We spoke on the radio, talk to people on the way and that is what we do just to convince the people that we need support from and it’s how big it is, if we have people donating ‘small small’ we will get the money.”
We’re not victims
While encouraging the gathering, “I said to all amputees that you are not a victim, life happens to you, but you are not a victim. Don’t treat yourself like a victim; don’t let people treat you like a victim. Don’t pity me, I don’t know pity, I don’t take pity, I don’t want pity, what amputees need is support, supportive environment and supportive family.”
She continued: “I should be able to enter the bank without begging somebody to help me to enter. I need to enter a hospital; I should be able to enter without begging somebody to help me enter. I have a right to be able to enter any building. If my money is in the bank and I can’t get it, and then there is something wrong so banks should have slope grounds.
“I have a right as a human being, a physiological right to mobility; every human being should be able to move and if I can’t move, the society needs to make the environment friendly for me to be able to move.”
She expressed the hope that one day, governments would be able to support them to ensure that those who have missing limbs will have prosthetic limbs “because there is enough technology to able to do that but until that day, civil societies, NGOs will need to continue to keep the work and do the advocacy to provide limbs for amputees.”
Local organisers show the way
The leader of the Feet of Grace Foundation, Miss Eunice Eleanor Klinogo, expressed satisfaction at the level of preparation for the event and said she was encouraged by the touching story of Dr Olumese. She expressed her belief in supporting a worthy cause.
“For me, giving to a worthy cause and giving to people who need help has always been my dream. I have always believed that if I give to change someone’s life, it also makes my life better because if my neigbour doesn’t have, the burden will be on me. If we have equal rights, then we are all going to move in harmony and that was why I decided to support.”
The symbolic Annual Feet of Grace Foundation Charity Walk, which gives the amputees the opportunity to raise funds to provide prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs for amputees who would never be able to afford this opportunity, started form Ayi Mensah to Peduase Lodge in Aburi in the Eastern Region.
Five weeks in comma
The founder of ‘Feet of Grace Foundation’ said in 2007 she was told by her doctors that her lungs could no longer hold enough oxygen for her to breathe, meaning she needed cans of oxygen to keep her alive.
After three years of supplemental oxygen, doctors informed her they had exhausted all medical options and the only option left was for her to undergo a lung transplant.
After the surgery, “I developed some complications and had to be in comma for about five weeks, so in the process (sic) of the complication, I had insufficient blood supply to my head and to my legs. My leg died. So when I came out of the comma the doctors told me that they would need to amputate my hands and my legs so that I could keep the lungs otherwise the dead tissue would continue to climb up and would poison the blood.”
Coughing non-stop for 20 years
Dr Olumese told the paper that among her predicament was a 20-year non-stop coughing 24 hours per day. She said the grace of God gave her reasons to have faith and survive through the storm.
Contact for support
Local donations are welcome through United Bank of Africa (UBA) (Account Number: 1019430471) and international donations can go to Feet of Grace Foundation UBA account number: 3002100149. Short Code: 033190424 and BIC: UNAFNGA