Written by Sickle Cell Warrior on 18 December 2010
This week’s Warrior in the Spotlight is Ida Adu, a Sickle cell activist in Ghana who has started an organization to help support sickle cell warriors. Hello Ida, thanks for doing the Warrior Spotlight. Let us start from the beginning, how old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
How old was I when I was diagnosed?? I couldn’t remember so had to ask my mother who confirmed it was at age 8.
Wow, that is later than most. How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
Coping through primary school was not bad; however, secondary school (high school) was very difficult. Secondary school was a boarding facility and it was difficult. Not all the teachers understood the condition so didn’t understand why I was doing things differently and excusing myself from doing strenuous activity. I was always at the ‘sick bay’ due to the frequent malaria attacks but I sailed through it and managed to finish high school. Unfortunately I couldn’t continue to the university immediately after that; had to get a job, get married have kids but now I am proud to say I have a Masters in Human Resource Development.
Congratulations on your Master’s. I went to boarding school as well and I had to drop out and switch to being a day student because of sickle cell, so I applaud you for making it through. How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career? What do you do, and what experience does one need to get your job?
My parents had so much to do with my attitude. A lot – I grew up appreciating LIFE – and God’s creation. With many ‘near misses’, I grew to appreciate the efforts of family members, friends and some health workers. They all in one way or another, helped ease my pain, so even though I started as a Secretary, I got a degree in Human Resource Development to enable me work with people.
Last year I established a Support Group/NGO – SICKLE AID (GHANA). The first of its kind in our country, the organization seeks to:
be a support group for persons living with SCD
work to demystify the sickle cell disease by organizing awareness creation events especially for the youth (high school – university)
encourage all persons especially the youth to get tested to know their status
amongst a few others.
I also, with the support of other volunteer patients and friends, have adopted some 170 children (all patients) in two rural communities. We help with drugs, hospital bill payments and provide education and support for their parent and for the orphans, their guardians.
I don’t know if there is any special form of education or experience to do my new job – I guess one should have the passion to help others.
That is amazing that a warrior like yourself puts your needs secondary and strives to help others. I know many other sickle cell warriors reading this are resonating with you right now. Describe a typical day on your job.
A typical day consists of answering enquiries via telephone, responding to emails, reading messages posted on our Facebook page, designing presentations suitable for programs I have beeninvited to or organizing ourselves. I also make time to research and read a lot more about the condition. One such research brought me to the website of the ‘Sickle Cell Warrior’. *smile*
On weekends we take a trip to either one of the projects where we meet and interact with some of the families, make presentations to them on how to care of the children and themselves (we do have a few adult patients).
You do so much Ida! How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career?
I have learned to manage my condition with a few basic things – EATING WELL, DRINKING ALOT OF WATER and TAKING MY MEDICATION. I also talk to my CREATOR ALOT and REST whenever I can.
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
NO. It did not limit me then, and it will not limit me now. I have too many ‘tests’ to turn into ‘testimonies’ I have to share with others.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
My trust and belief in the promises of God. God has been faithful and recently I have come to understand the promises and
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working?
No, I don’t have regular pain. Fortunately, I am self employed so can take a rest when I don’t feel well.
What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain?
A tablet of folic acid daily. Names may differ because of our different locations but for pain I take Diclofenac Potassium based drug called LAGAFEN-K SR when I am in pain.
How has sickle cell affected your personal life? For example, are you in a relationship, do you have kids, etc.
I am married with 2 daughters aged 16 and 9. I have had a good life and my family have been supportive.
Looking at the 14 year old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…?
Just like most of the kids l support, I will say this…
Yes you have a condition that makes you stand out from your other siblings or friends in school – know you are ‘special’ that is why you are different, so do things right. Study hard, take your medications, eat well (finish your meals), drink a lot of fluids (water being No.1), rest when you have to so you will grow strong and be able to do a lot of special things.
Is there anything else that you would want to tell other sickle cell warriors?
We are a special creation. A group of humans who in the face of all our discomfort can achieve what the healthiest person sometimes cannot, We are a smart and beautiful group of people but the world is yet to ‘understand us’. Let’s continue to support each other – by this we will brighten the corners where we all find ourselves on the planet.
Wow Ida, thank you. I’m INSPIRED!
For those warriors in Ghana, if you would like to volunteer or connect with Ida’s sickle cell organization, contact:
Sickle Aid (Ghana)
Cell: 0277 162626