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Persons Living With Sickle Cell Salute Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor

Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor: a living saint in SCD community

‘Angels exist only in heaven’….Well I used to think in this line until I encountered the Bishop of Awka Catholic Diocese, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor. Finally, the assenting of Sickle Cell Law becomes a reality and it is only right that I show gratitude to those who were instrumental towards what I believe has been a long time coming.

I want to Specially thank Bishop Ezeokafor and all the Clergies who played pivotal roles in ensuring the passage and eventual assenting of the Sickle Cell Law. For following us to the public hearing of Sickle Cell Law, for their remembrance in prayer and for their efforts in keeping us believing and not losing faith.

Bishop Paulinus is an amazing person. He has particularly made me proud, not only proud of my faith, but proud to identify with the Catholic Clergies because truly at a point I was so frustrated and broken that I could not even discern between what was right and wrong anymore.

Yes I had a ‘Low Key’ marriage. I think the rationale behind that decision is not far fetched, because really, what do I need a loud, flamboyant celebration for? What really is there to celebrate? Is it the loss of lives of my members which has been worse in recent times? Is it the struggle to stay out of hospitals? Is it the impoverished and deplorable state of my members?

Some were not even able to receive their last sacrament because of their most pathetic condition before death, some have refused to go to church, a chunk more do not even believe in God anymore. A large number of us, myself inclusive, were already on the verge of denouncing our faith. Before you start to judge me, or judge us, you may want to take a walk in our shoes…believe me you’d be better off walking bare feet on burning coal. But God always has a plan.

There are Bishops like Paulinus Ezeokafor, who toil day and night, take it upon themselves to ensure that we remain steadfast and keep believing. Here’s a quick instance to further shed light on the rare and kind nature of this man called Bishop Ezeokafor.

Bishop of Awka Catholic Diocese, Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor

On the 15th of February, Austica Memorial College which is also head of our chaplaincy celebrated Feast of Austica. Bishop Ezeokafor, I learnt delivered a Sermon where he gave a parable of the Widow and the unjust judge. A parable in which he likened me to that widow. Though i was not present at the feast as at when the sermon was delivered because I have to honour one of my late members who was buried in Imo State, I was informed upon arrival that the Bishop had used the parable to charge everyone who was present there to remain steadfast and persistent in what is right and just and never to give up. He was also happy to announce to them about the assenting of the Sickle Cell Law. As a matter of fact, that was when it dawned on me that the law had truly been assented.

When I heard the news at first, I took it with a pinch of salt because i wouldn’t want a situation where one, out of excitement, hears and accepts such good news and ultimately starts sharing it. Only to be disappointed and finding out that it was false hope all along, it’d really be heart breaking.

I am saying this now because as much as there were people who toiled day and night for the assent of this law, there are also those who vowed to hinder and prevent the assent of the law at all cost. Many even said it to my face that I am fighting a lost cause. That we were only wasting our time. That yes the law may have been passed, but it will never be assented to.

Others said that it’s all a game, claiming that we have been politicized and that we should join forces with opposition political parties. Others raised the tension that the law requires great financial funding and that the governor would continuously decline assent because of the “expensive” nature of the Law.

Naturally, we had given up hope. These are the things that push many of us to denounce our faith, these are the kind of things that cause the death of our members in their numbers, draining and shattering us emotionally and psychologically.

That not withstanding, the bishop has given me more than a reason to keep believing and fighting. Winning more souls for Christ and running the heavenly race with all my heart and might. Now I believe that God lives and patience pays off after all. I now believe in perseverance and persistence. Now I believe the doctrines behind the fruits of the spirit because sincerely I had started thinking the Bible was just an essay written and introduced by the early missionaries.

The joy that this law has created in our hearts, knows no bounds. The Governor of Anambra State may not be fully aware of the great feat he just attained by assenting this law. People from all parts of Nigeria, Africa and the world at large have been sending their congratulatory messages through our official forum.

It is only sad that we cannot make this forum public but the reception has been really positive and Governor Obiano has just raised the bar ten notches higher.

Once again, I really just want to use this medium to encourage the world to remember Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor in their prayers. I remember officially writing him countless times. That we have no legs and we needed mobility (Bus). Begging him to appeal to the government to accent the Law.

Constantly on his neck, letting him know that if the law is accented to, there wouldn’t be any need to write him multiple times , begging for food or welfare or for the subsidy of health medical bills in the missionary hospitals. He has indeed done his best.

The first man of God who saw the need for us to have a chaplain. A spiritual director to guide us, support us, keep us in check when we are on the brink of losing our minds.

Prior to the accent of the Sickle Cell Law, he made a visit to the government quarters to further appeal the assent of the Law. Letting them see reasons why the law needs to be assented. I am really filled with gratitude. I am truly in awe of this man who has truly been called by God. It’s really not easy. I can only imagine the criticism he must have faced, some might even have kept the main objective aside and focus on their own personal gains, but this servant of God ignored all the prospective benefits and relationship he could have gained to fight for us and present our case.

I want to personally say thank you to him and assure him that the APLSCD intends to immortalize him in several ways.

My gratitude also goes to the Anglican Communion and Methodist Church. The Anglicans, because they cannot eat without making provision for us. Creating forums for us to sensitize their congregation even at the national level. The Bishop of Anglican Communion Aguata Diocese and the Bishop of Mbamili, together with their wives I remain grateful band forever indebted to you.

To the Anambra State Governor, we are really proud of you. We don’t need to tell you that you have left your footprints in the sands of time. This is a huge credit to you and your administration. A step in the right direction and I am happy that I am part of it.

I can now concentrate and plan my wedding in the grandest way possible. There is a ray of hope and a feel of optimism that the assent of this law brings. Now I can celebrate my victory and freedom that has been given to me by Anambra State Government and facilitated by Bishop Paulinus Ezeokafor and other Clergies too.

Now this is a time, for all and sundry, Clergies, President Generals, Traditional Heads to ensure that the law is implemented to the letter. Now is the time for President Generals, especially the female ones to sensitize their women and also educate them.

The educational sphere needs to get academic materials that would help teach Genotype education and compatibility very well, as detailed and as comprehensively as possible.

To the Catechists; please note that it literally begins and ends with you. The consummation, contracting and cementing of marriage starts and ends with you. Hence there is a need to gain first hand knowledge of Genotype education and Compatibility and provide due counseling in this regard.

To the wife of the Governor, I look forward to seeing you in person. Maybe at my Wedding so I can finally thank you in person, for the love, care and support shown over the years.

To our benefactors. Believe me that your names are in gold engravings in our hearts. God will reward every single one of you. For all the times that you have lent a helping hand and shown support, I simply can’t thank you enough. This is a victory for us all.

And to all of us who have been privileged to witness the passage and assent of this Law.

What a time to be alive!!! I pray that God increases our years, give us many more years to live and enjoy all the benefits of this law.

One last thing before I drop my pen. We still need a Sickle Cell Home. Maybe the next time I will make a post like this.. it would be in celebration of a Sickle Cell Home. Thank you all and God bless.

Aisha Edwards Maduagwu
National Coordinator
APLSCD
07014152622

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