Tell us about yourself.

My name is Dorathy Azuruole. I am a wife and mother of two wonderful kids.

As a child, what did you want to become in future? What do you do now?

Growing up as a child all I dreamt and aspired to be was a nurse. The zeal and passion was there and I excelled academically at school. Unfortunately my parents did not have the financial resources to enable me to pursue my dreams.

Currently I’m jack of all trades and a master of all. I’m a hairdresser, a make up artist, a network marketer, an entrepreneur and a proud Mamalette Champion.

Why did you volunteer as a Mamalette Champion?

Dorathy with a program enrolee in May 2019

Over the years, I’ve always wanted an opportunity to show love, care and affection to other people. When I was selected as a Mamalette Champion, I was very happy as it gave me a way to express my bottled up passion for pregnant women and infants.

What was a striking moment for you during this program?

Before volunteering, I really did not have a true picture of the realities I would be confronted with. At the start of the program while I was still recruiting enrolees, I met a 19 year old pregnant woman. I introduced myself to her, gave a brief description of what the program entailed and requested for her number so I could follow up later.

She called out her digits and I tried calling the number immediately but the number did not connect. I told her to check and she discovered that she had made a mistake while calling out the digits. She appeared to be deep in thought. I asked her why she seemed distracted and she revealed that she had just been bereaved and was a widow. I couldn’t control my emotion at this news and immediately felt hot tears flowing down my cheeks.

Can you share a story of an enrolee whose life you have impacted during this program?

One of my enrolees who was pregnant with her first child was registered with a Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA). Although she was educated, I discovered she had been influenced to register at the TBA by her mother in law. The mother in law’s socio cultural belief was that this was the best place for her grandchild to be born. During my first visit to her, I discussed the importance of antenatal care and Rhesus incompatibility with her. Rhesus incompatibility was a strange topic to her completely. I also opened her eyes to see dangers having her baby with an unskilled birth attendant and that having a baby in such an unsafe environment was a risk. She registered in a general hospital and did blood tests so she could decipher her blood group and she was discovered to be O-. Therefore she was able to get the rHogam injection within 72hours after delivery. I am glad that she gave birth to her baby in a government hospital even after her husband and mother in law insisted that she give birth at the TBA’s. The mother in law and husband even went as far as taking her to the TBA when she was in labour. However I was able to give her a voice, support and a backbone and she stood her ground. She her baby safely and both mother and child are in good health.

Why is your community important to you?

Dorathy with an enrolee during a home visit in May 2019

Whatever happens in my community happens to me. The peace, joy and good health of my community is also mine. Take for instance if a child in my community isn’t immunised against a highly contractible disease e. g airborne disease, one way or another it can get to me, my children and family. When you teach a mother about immunising her child, you not only save her child but the entire community!.

What in your life made you care about other people around you?

Dorathy volunteering at the Mamalette/Aliko Dangote Foundation’s 2019 World Breastfeeding Week Awareness Workshop at Gbagada General Hospital

Growing up was tough. I’ve saw people die; both young and old, men and women, pregnant women, women who miscarried their most wanted babies, infants with promising futures. A lot of these deaths were preventable and attributable to ignorance and a lack of basic health education.

What is the worth of a pregnant woman’s life to you?

Hmm. Nothing can be used as a fair equivalent or comparison to the life of a pregnant woman.

Describe a time during the program where you felt helpless.

I feel helpless most times during my visits to my enrolees because majority of them are unemployed and are solely dependent on the meagre income of their husbands. There are times I meet enrolees in the afternoon and find out they haven’t had anything to eat, even a nursing mother with twins! There are times some of my enrolees children will be sick but their mothers won’t seek medical attention because of money. Some of my enrolees children were out of school for weeks because their parents could not afford to send them to school.. But of all these, the one that got me perplexed me the most and left me deep in thought that resulted in several sleepless nights was that of my 19 year old widowed enrolee who was left with 2 kids to care for all alone, no shelter, no family, no friends, no money!

What is your hope for your community?

I hope to see a better version of my community devoid of pain, struggles, ignorance, women standing up for and helping each other. Most importantly I would like women to have basic health education, as knowledge is indeed power.

What message do you have for other women who are looking to make an impact in their communities?

Passion keeps one going when the journey becomes rough. You need to be passionate about making a difference in your community. It is hard to know what setbacks, difficulties and challenges you may face when you start. So if you start this journey just for material benefits and fame you will (might) get to a point where your strength will fail you.