Tell us about yourself.

My name is Jane Akinfemisoye. I am married with a kid.

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

I come from a very humble background and there was really nobody that had really gone ahead of me in terms of education that I could look up to and aspire to be like.

I struggled getting myself through secondary school and university.

The environment I grew up in didn’t help matters. I wanted to be a lawyer or a media person because while growing up, I could argue and talk a lot. I thought those were the right professions for me. Now, I run a business and I like to volunteer anywhere I can make positive impact.

Why did you volunteer as a Mamalette Champion?

Jane at a Mamalette Home Visitors training program in May 2019

My biggest motivation for volunteering is my background and my experience! I don’t want to see anyone go through what I went through! I see Mamalette as an avenue to reach out to other people who are going through life’s bumpy roads.

What was a striking moment for you during this program?

The program in itself is striking! It’s a privilege I must say! Going out there meeting people with different challenges! Singles! Married! I tell you they all had challenges that made me know that am not the only one with a story to tell! For every enrolee I worked with, there was something new I learnt! The ones dealing with financial challenges, domestic violence, unwanted pregnancies, family pressure, multiple Caesarean Section births etc. all left me gobsmacked.

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

I really thank God for this program and how God has used it to touch people’s lives. I had an enrolee who had her second baby through Caesarean Section and she had no help. She had to go for another surgery because she had pus coming out of her navel. I had to help her with domestic chores, took her baby for immunisation appointments and even helped take her baby for his circumcision.

Jane at a Mamalette Home Visitors training program in May 2019

I had another enrolee I had to register at a primary health care center so her baby could access proper infant care. She had put to bed at a Traditional Birth Attendant’s place. I also had an enrolee I had to support with finance because there was no money to get to the hospital while her baby was so sick. Both the husband and wife were helpless because of their dire financial situation.

I had a pregnant enrolee I had to raise funds for to get immunoglobulin because she was hepatitis B positive and needed the vaccine to prevent disease transmission to her baby. I really thank Mamalette for the impact of this project.

Why is your community important to you?

Jane with an enrolee in April 2019

Charity begins at home, I must start with the people I see. The people I know. I can verify their stories before helping them out. I can see and feel their challenges, It’s important for me to start with my community. And every Mamalette Champion starts with her community. From there we can help the society at large.

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

I can feel their pains, challenges, not only because I see them, but I have been in their shoes before, I know what it is like to be ignorant, helpless and challenged.

When I initially got married 11yrs ago, I wasn’t prepared. I got pregnant a few months into the marriage. I had little or no care. Despite my level of education, I knew nothing about taking care of my pregnancy. I hardly went for antenatal care. I was sick, I never took my routine antenatal drugs. At 7 months of pregnancy, I went into labour and put to bed prematurely. Due to financial difficulties, my baby was unable to go to the hospital we were referred to.

I also couldn’t do anything then because I knew nothing about pregnancy or caring for a premature baby. Not too long after I began to notice some yellow coloration of the baby’s skin and I was told the baby had jaundice and a nurse came to the house to give the baby an injection and put the baby under sunlight. Later I discovered my child had cerebral palsy. She’s 10 years old now. She can’t sit, she can’t stand, neither can she walk.

Describe a time during the program where you felt helpless.

This is a tough one. I had got a call from a primary health care where I had gone to speak to pregnant women. I was told a woman had come in, who was 8 months pregnant before she presented herself for antenatal care. She was carrying a set of twins and she was HIV positive. She didn’t have money for a Caesarean Section. I didn’t know what to do.

I wish I had met her months before. A few days after the call, I was told she went into labour and gave birth vaginally. I felt really helpless that I couldn’t prevent her babies from being infected with the virus. It was really hard for me and it took me some days to get over this news.

What is your hope for your community?

I hope to see a community where poverty is reduced to the barest minimum by empowering people with the knowledge, resources and skills they need to rise above poverty.

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

Be truly concerned about the welfare of others. Especially when you come from a more advantaged background. Don’t just watch people from afar. Genuinely help them when they are in trouble. And do it for humanity, not to gossip about them later.