-Girl says she wants to go to school
After 14 years that young Imole Wahab, a resident of Ikorodu, has been in darkness due to defects in her eyes from birth, she has finally lived up to her name, ‘lmole’ (which means light), as she regained her sights on Friday, June 26, 2020, after a second successful surgery at the Ajayi Medical Centre, sponsored by the Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club.
The first surgery, which corrected the left eye, was conducted about two weeks ago (specifically on Tuesday, June 9) .
The Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club, a branch of the Lions international Club which is a humanitarian organization, according to report, got aware about Imole’s case when she was introduced to Lion (Amb) Helen U. Onohwakpor, the President, Diamond Lions Club, 2019/20, and the decision to assist her was approved by the club after her case was presented as part of the Club’s core project.
It was gathered that she was born with defect as she could not see with both eyes right from birth and all efforts by her parents who are not impaired, to assist her in getting the defect treated were unsuccessful as they could not get needed support.
Imole’s parents later separated when she was about 4-year-old and had to stay with her mother who, according to report, did her best to get medical help for her.
However, in the struggle to survive and provide care for her daughter, Imole’s mother passed away suddenly in March this year and Imole was reunited with her father.
After the second successful surgery on her right eye on June 26, during which our reporter was on ground, lmole was put to test in the presence of her family members and members of the Lions Club members.
She was not only able to state the number of those standing before her, but also described the colour of jackets worn by members of the Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club, saying, ‘Yellow yellow’, which made those around her burst into laughter.
Speaking with Imole after the surgery, she stated that she felt better and could see properly with her left eye because her right eye was still covered.
Imole, who has never been to school since her birth due to her eye problem, also stated that she would like to go to school.
“There are four people standing here with me”, she said.
When asked about the colour of their clothes, she said, “You are wearing Yellow, yellow”.
“Yes, I am happy and I can see with my left eyes”.
She was equally full of appreciation and prayers in her message to the Lions Club.
“Thank you. God will help you in the name of Jesus. Lions Club will not scatter in the name of Jesus”, she prayed.
Her father, Mr Wahab S.A, who also spoke with our reporter at the hospital, also confirmed that her daughter has been unable to see since her birth and that he once approached Ayayi Hospital for assistance but was told to come back.
“I am the father of Imole. She has been unable to see since birth.
Mr Wahab, who spoke in broken English, stated that he was ready to find help for Imole but her mother took her away.
“She has been in darkness for 14 years and that is not easy. I was ready to help my daughter before now but her mother took her away and we had separated for over ten years but it was quite unfortunate that I received a call that she died in March”, he said.
He said that he was only reunited with her daughter on April 6 this year after the death of her mother only to realize that she was still in the same state.
“I had earlier approached Dr Ajayi before for assistance but he told me that he was going to call me, but suddenly, I got the call that a group are willing to assist and my first impression was that, is that possible in Nigeria?”, he said.
“It was when I got here (Ajayi Medical Centre) with lmole that the Lions Club was introduced to me. I have only been hearing about the club for over twenty years and I didn’t know that they do assist people or things like that.
“The club also confirmed to me that they are ready to sponsor her surgery and I was really happy because I have no money. I used to work before but not any longer.
Mr Wahab, who was conspicuously overjoyed that his daughter can now see, commended the Lions Club for the assistance.
“I am really happy that Lions Club is intervening. This is a huge surprise because unlike others that will be promising without fulfilling it, this club has not only promised but it has also delivered on its promises”, he said.
“God will help the Lions Club and its members”, he prayed.
Lion (Amb) Helen U Onohwakpor, the President, Diamond Lions Club, 2019/20, stated that she was interested in Imole’s case when her matter was brought to her because helping people with their sight is a core programme of the Lions Club International.
“Normally, we usually have a core project for every Lion year and for this year, my core project was to prevent blindness. I was concerned about helping those with sight challenges regain their visions. This is why I embarked on this”.
She also told THE IMPACT that another young girl, Aisha, was not that lucky like Imole because the doctor pronounced her situation beyond repair.
“We actually had two. There was Aisha from one orphanage home (name withheld) but by the time she was, examined alongside Imole, her case was beyond repair. Lots of things were said to be wrong with her sight.
“We were made to understand that her sight cannot be rectified and she pleaded for artificial eyes, but we are looking into that.
Explaining how she came to know about Imole’s case, Helen said:
“Imole case was brought to me by someone that found out about her case on facebook and when I was told she is 14-year-old and born blind, I insisted that she should see the doctor and upon meeting with Dr (Mrs) Ajayi, she said she can still be operated and that was how the matter was taken to my club for sponsorship for the surgery”.
She stated that initially, she was told that Aishat was an orphan but that when she engaged her, she gave a clear picture about her.
“Initially, I was made to understand that she is an orphan, until we met Aisha who told us that are parents separated. Despite her sight challenges, she was able to recall everything about her mum’s efforts and when she passed on, she was recorded in her memory.
Mrs Onohwakpor also stated that Imole’s upkeep, especially her education, will be given attention by the club.
“She is going to have her vision back and she will be fine eventually.
“Regarding her education, the Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club has plans for her project further, especially regarding her education. We don’t just want to help her get her sight back and abandon her, but we also want to follow up her case”, she assured.
“We want the betterment of Imole. We want to see her proceed and gets better in life and by that, we would have helped a generation.
The Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club President also stated other areas her regime has impacted positively on the society.
“My tenure actually started in July 2019, and I am on my twelfth month. Another President will take over by July.
“So far, I have been able to carry out 17 projects despite COVID – 19 challenges. In actual fact, we had our COVlD – 19 palliatives distribution when we went to Child Lifeline to give them food stuff like bags of garri, rice, beans and other items”, she said.
“We also gave Ikorodu Library copies of Braille Bibles to be used by those with eyes challenges. We have embarked on a lot of other projects. We have equally been to Owutu Rehabilitation Centre to donate food items and other things.
She added that during the 2019/20 Lions’ year, the club also organized a reading action competition in Imota.
Lion Funmi Alabi, Director, Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club and Chairperson at the District level of the Club, who was also on ground during Imole’s surgery, spoke with THE IMPACT about the surgery.
She stated that the club supported the idea of sponsoring Imole’s surgery when it was presented.
“We got to know that she had been having this issue since she was born and she couldn’t see at all. When her issue was brought to us at Lions Club and was one of our core projects (sight), we decided to take it up”.
The senior Lion also told our reporter that the discovery that Imole’s both eyes needed surgery instead of one that they thought almost made the surgery a tall dream but for the support of the Ajayi Medical Hospital, they were able to attain the feat.
“We actually thought that it was just an eye that was affected but when she told us her story that she cannot see anything with the two eyes, initially, we thought that it would be difficult to operate the two due to fund, but fortunately for us, the club got the support from Ajayi Medical Center which is owned by a couple who are also Lions”, Lion Alabi said.
“The cost is supposed to be more than what we are paying per eye but for this very purpose, the hospital gave us a discounted rate for her operation.
“What gives us joy and necessary motivation and happiness to go for the second surgery was as a result of the outcome of the first surgery.
“Two weeks ago when the first surgery was conducted, we were told that she would be able to see and as she is talking to you today, she has been able to recognise colours.
“Now, with the second surgery, she’s definitely going to be able to see with the both eyes and then, we would have taken care of a generation. It’s not just a life but a generation that has been touched through Imole”, the proud Lion said.
She also confirmed that the club has plans to further assist Imole with her education.
“The follow-up will come because we don’t intend to abandon Imole. We would keep doing all that we needed to do to support her and her family.
“She is already 14 years and had never been to school ever before.
“We have thought about picking up her education responsibility because we have Lions Adult Literacy Centre at Methodist Primary School, Ikorodu, for her to kickstart her educational career.
She said that Imole can start with the Adult Literacy programme until the club is sure that she is ready to go into the mainstream school system and that they will give her the needed support.
Lion Alabi, who stated that the club has procedures before adopting any individual for surgery, added that the District will be proud of the Ikorodu Diamond Lions Club’s achievement with Imole’s case.
“Our District will be proud of this because removal of cataracts from children’s eyes is our major programme and we have been able to achieve this.
“We don’t just admit people with eyes or any other medical challenge for treatment, we usually check people ‘s sights and others between August and September of every year.
“Only after screening that we can tell who is in need of surgery or drugs. We have been screening children and adults’ eyes annually this year, we decided to screen elders. Fortunately, nobody required cataract surgery but we gave them eyeglasses and drugs”.