June 14, 2024

‘Rock Bottom’: Community where sickle cell warriors feel understood, empowered

  • April 28, 2024
  • 3 min read
‘Rock Bottom’: Community where sickle cell warriors feel understood, empowered

By Naza Okorie

TOLA Olatunji, who hails from Benin City, Nigeria, but now resides in the UK where she works as a property lawyer, grew up with sickle cell and three siblings, two of whom are sickle cell warriors, too. Tola has witnessed firsthand the challenges of living with the disease. After a near-death experience that left her believing she might never walk again, Tola had to relearn how to walk, a journey that profoundly impacted her perspective on life.

Motivated by her own struggles, Tola felt compelled to share her story and offer encouragement to others facing similar hardships. Recognizing the absence of sickle cell foundations in her hometown of Benin City, she saw an opportunity to raise awareness and provide support to those in need with soon-to-be launched Rock Bottom Sickle Initiative. Tola’s mission is not only to educate others about sickle cell disease but also to build a community where warriors feel understood and empowered.

Through her dedication and passion, Tola strives to touch lives and make a difference in the lives of sickle cell warriors, ensuring they are not limited by their condition. Her journey is a testament to the power of resilience and the impact one person can have in creating positive change.

Tola’s courage knows no bounds. Despite the pain and challenges she faced, she bravely chronicles her journey in her book, Rock Bottom that invites readers to experience her trials and triumphs alongside her. Sharing such deeply personal experience requires immense bravery, but Tola’s determination to inspire and uplift others drove her to relive her most difficult moments.

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Tola Olatunji

By opening up about her journey, Tola hopes to offer solace and support to those navigating similar struggles. Her willingness to share her vulnerabilities is a testament to her strength and compassion. Through Rock Bottom, her first experiential book, Tola extends a hand of empathy and understanding, reminding us all that even in our darkest moments, there is hope and resilience.

The collaboration between Rock Bottom Sickle Cell Initiative and various partners is a testament to the collective effort to make a difference in the lives of sickle cell warriors. Partnering with Dr. Suchitra Kataria, the Singapore-based specialist behind My Sickle Care App, demonstrates a commitment to leveraging technology for better access to diagnoses and care worldwide. Their joint efforts in sickle cell disease (SCD) education and counseling, with government and UNICEF in parts of India, highlight a global approach to tackling the challenges of sickle cell disease.

Additionally, the support of the First Lady of Edo State, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, underscores the importance of community engagement and government involvement in addressing sickle cell disease. By facilitating connections between stakeholders and contributing to efforts to reduce the prevalence of the disease, Mrs. Obaseki’s collaboration strengthens the foundation’s impact at a local level. With such partnerships in place, Rock Bottom Sickle Cell Initiative is poised to make significant strides in its mission to support sickle cell warriors and raise awareness about the disease.

Tola will launch her book Rock Bottom and the foundation Rock Bottom Sickle Cell Initiative in Benin City on May 4, 2024 at Horatio Events Centre, Akhionbare Street, GRA, Benin City.

* Okorie, a Brand Manager with The Play Work Dreams Agency, wrote in from Lagos

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