Tell us about yourself.
My name is Blessing Olurin. I’m cheerful, playful and fun to be around. I am a trained broadcaster and public relations consultant but I am now an e-commerce entrepreneur. I like to see people around me happy and wish there’s no pain in the world.
I am a mother of three kids and I also as volunteer as a social worker on maternal and infant health i.e. Mamalette Champion. One of my hobbies is cooking and I absolutely enjoy travelling.
As a child, what did you want to become in future? What do you do now?
As a child, I wanted to become a newscaster. It seemed so magical being on TV and I always admired the delivery and script reading of the newscasters. Surprisingly, I studied broadcasting but ended up becoming an e-commerce business director. I have no regrets because it gives me so much time to do plenty of other things like volunteering.
Why did you volunteer as a Mamalette Champion?
I have always wanted to start up a community health project around maternal and infant health. This thought started as far back as 2004 when I lost my elder sister during childbirth. I felt like a timely c/section would have saved her life. The vision became clearer when I also almost lost my life in 2016 as a result of eclampsia. I took it upon myself to educate pregnant women about the condition as well as advocate for caesarian section births where necessary. The Mamalette Champions program offered me the opportunity to help women on a larger scale. I was also being trained. I was very happy to come on board.
What was a striking moment for you during this program?
A striking moment for me during this program was when one of my enrolees left Lagos for her village because she didn’t have the funds she needed to access antenatal care at a hospital. She had only hinted me about her plans and I had tried to convince her that I could help fundraise for her. She left when she was 8 months pregnant. I had no prior notice and was unable to get through to her. I was worried about her, her baby and their safety. Suddenly, two months later, she called me out of the blues to tell me she had delivered safely and had returned to Lagos.
The moment I heard her voice on the phone, I was so emotional and I’ll never forget that feeling of relief and joy I felt.
I was elated! It was so surreal and at that moment, I appreciated the story of ‘The Lost Sheep’, I was so glad to have her back and relieved that both mother and baby were fine.
I was also delighted when she told me that she never forgot all that we talked about during our home visit sessions and how the information was useful to her in the village.
Can you share a story of an enrolee whose life you have impacted during this program?
I think the enrolees would better answer this. Lol.
I can share the story of one of my enrolees, Mrs M. She called me one day and was hysterical on the phone, I could barely hear her as she was sobbing profusely. Her son had fallen ill and had serious diarrhea.
Remembering one of our sessions and my advice that shetake her child to the hospital when he had severe diarrhea, she had gone on to the hospital but had no money at all for tests and treatments.
The clinic had insisted on a payment of N1500 to run a test on the baby, in order to diagnose his ailment. She had no money and couldn’t get anyone to borrow her, as I had advised. I was heartbroken that she couldn’t get anyone to immediately lend her an ordinary sum of N1500. It broke me that a child could die because of such insignificant amount. I could not even calm the mother over the phone.
My phone almost exploded. I was so lost and confused and scared at the same time as I didn’t know the severity of the situation. Meanwhile, she had confided in me that she had previously lost a child to diarrheal disease. You could almost smell her fear from the phone.
I had to hurriedly transport myself to the hospital, which was 60 kilometers away to make the payment. Fortunately, the child only had malaria and was treated.
I was happy to know that my enrolee actually listened to every piece of advice I gave and was glad that she had noted the points I taught and was putting them into practice.
Another is knowing that an enrolee’s troubled relationship was saved just by counseling. It amazes me that these women see us Mamalette Champions as some sort of heroes, looking up to help solve their problems. Knowing that by our little efforts relationships are mended, confidence restored, hope renewed, enrolees are inspired to make something new of themselves. Enrolees are inspired to be better while improving their health and that of their family. All of this truly inspires and encourages me.
What in your life made you care about other people around you?
I have had so many experiences in my life where I have learnt that no one is an island. We all need one another and the world will be better when we lift one another up. I have had personal experiences where I’ve been at my lowest point and only became better with the help and support of people around me.
I’ve also seen people renew their hope to move on in life just by me offering them a word advice. My mother was the kindest and most hospitable person I ever knew. She would almost pluck out her eyes to help others. My mother in law also shares the same traits and I’ve learnt a lot from these great women. I have learnt to offer a shoulder of comfort to people who are helpless and to try my best to light up the world one person at a time. No one should lose their hope on life.
Describe a time during the program where you felt helpless.
A time I felt really helpless was when one of my enrolees gave birth at a traditional birthing center and the baby had to be rushed to a hospital for intensive care due to complications.
I had only met her just a week before her delivery and could not convince her to change her birth plans. For two weeks, the baby was alone at the hospital’s intensive care unit.
I felt like I failed in not convincing the mother enough to give birth at the hospital. I lived in fear of losing the baby. Thankfully, the baby made it through and it was such a relief to see him go back home to his family after 4 weeks.
What is your hope for your community?
My hope for my commuting is to see a thriving community that practices safe family health, safe pregnancy, motherhood and childcare. My hope for my community is to have almost no incidence of maternal and infant loss that could have been avoided.
My wish is to see a community of healthy individuals and families who are well informed about their health choices, who have access to free and useful health information and services and who transfer this practice to the next generation.
What message do you have for other women who are looking to make an impact in their communities?
The message I have for other women who are looking to make a health impact in their communities is that they should start. The society will thank them for it. There are so many people out there who need a touch or just a soft word from a volunteer.
There are so many people dying out there just as a result of limited access to information on their health. You can prevent another mortality just by arming that individual out there with the proper information about their health and lifestyle and how to stay healthy. Dear woman, the world is waiting for your imprint. You will find your passion and you will be happy you heeded the call to serve because definitely, your service could save a life. But how would you save a life if you don’t start?