Four Seasons of Using Colour to Raise Awareness on Sickle Cell Anemia


A lot has been going on behind the scenes, as I prepared for the fourth season of what has now become a pivotal part of my sickle cell advocacy journey. Time sped by and suddenly, we were in June, painting everywhere red/black and shades of white for sickle cell.

When I started incorporating colour awareness into the advocacy journey as another means to raise awareness and change the narrative on sickle cell in June of 2016, I didn’t know how long I would do it or how far reaching the impact would be. That first season, I did it tentatively, counting the number of red dresses I owned and how long it would last. I could count seven and so, the week leading to World Sickle Cell Day, June 19th became my stepping stone. I did it for one week and incidentally, organized my first sickle cell related workshop on care and management.

Four seasons later, the campaign has grown in leaps and bounds, generating so much support far and wide. This year’s campaign was special in many ways. In addition to having many join me paint Social Media in all the shades of sickle cell colours, there were a lot of other things we did to make it fun and funky. Read on the entire campaign album on Facebook here.

There was fun incorporated as we added the #BrightLipsForSickleCell hashtag to it and what fun it was when so many dear sisters came out in different shades of bright lips for sickle cell. Not wanting to leave the brothers out, we added the #RedTieForSickleCell and the #RedLipsForSickleCell. Naturally, the hashtags were many and a bit confusing but again, my tribe made it fun as usual. Any man use yi own whey yi like after all, variety is always the spices of life. So many #DaredItForSickleCell and brought on the fun and funkiness to this year’s campaign. Yes, Sickle Cell Awareness can be full of life, fun and swag.

Secondly, this year’s campaign saw us carry out our first major fundraising exercise for our pilot free screening for sickle cell, targeting at least 100 people from 0 to 20 years. We had 150 people present, including known sickle cell warriors so; it was another challenge to screen only those we knew needed the screening. All the same, things went on well, despite some challenges here and there and we had the National Television Corporation (CRTV) and VoxAfrique present to cover it. There was also talk of the event on the Guardian Post, a national daily and a blog spoke about it also. And of course, other avenues of Social Media such as Instagram and WhatsApp were not left out.

Sickle Cell Day was the peak of the campaign. I was overwhelmed with the support and number of people who came out in shades of red/black and white to add their collective voices to the #BreakTheSilence Campaign. Indeed, the silence has been broken and perceptions are slowly but surely changing. I ended up in the hospital after World Sickle Cell Day from sudden intense pains. It was like incorporating both theory and practice into this year’s campaign lol.  And while on my sick bed, I got the most amazing news of all, that I have emerged winner of Sickle Cell 101 (SCAY101) International Advocate of the Year.

It was indeed a most fulfilling, humbling and enriching season four of Sickle Cell Colour Awareness Drive and as I end now, looking forward to season 5, I sincerely want to again appreciate all who added their voices this season and always, to join me in making the sickle cell voices louder and stronger. Yes, a campaign season a time, we will get to that stage when people would be comfortable to sit and talk sickle cell and also, ensure warriors get the care and attention they deserve. We will get there someday, because, I have an AMAZING TRIBE behind me and to be sure, colour can effectively be used to bring attention towards a noble cause.

NB: Feast your eyes on the pictures. It has been a feat trying to gather all the beautiful, amazing pictures of love and support this season. I apologize, if I unintentionally missed any. Please be assured the out pouring of love and continuous support have a permanent place in my heart. Thank you again.

Keep reading, keep sharing and keep commenting. We are inspired by your visits and comments, thank you.

ARREY-E.AGBOR-NDAKAW

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