Meet Sharon, 28-year-old SCD warrior defying odds to fight condition

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023 04:00 | By
Peperusha Binti Executive Director Sharon Jessica Odhiambo (right) with fellow Sickle cell warriors and champions during a media engagement forum held recently in Kisumu City. KNA
Peperusha Binti Executive Director Sharon Jessica Odhiambo (right) with fellow Sickle cell warriors and champions during a media engagement forum held recently in Kisumu City. PHOTO/KNA

At 28 years old, Sharon Jessica Odhiambo is one of the sickle cell warriors and advocates who is at the forefront of fighting and creating awareness among the public about the disease through her Peperusha Binti Community Based Organisation (CBO), established in 2019.

“What really motivated me to positively make noise about sickle cell disease is that I lost very many friends through it, something that can be avoided in the community,” says Odhiambo.

As the Executive Director of the organisation, Odhiambo explains that the disease is one of their core programmes, and there are so many things that are yet to be done for people living with the disease.

“My childhood wasn’t easy, and my parents had to accept it, and with time, I learned to live and cope with every situation. They have all been my biggest support and inspiration, thus giving me the courage to face life in so many ways,” says Odhiambo.

Despite the challenges of being sick once in a while, she says that her school life was normal, just like the rest of the children.

“There are very many challenges facing those with the disease in the community, especially those from vulnerable communities or underprivileged families who can’t afford good healthcare services and medicine,” Odhiambo said during an exclusive interview with KNA.

Fellow warriors

On that day, Odhiambo joined fellow warriors and champions on the rolled-out fundraising programmes and the need to sensitise the media professionals in Kisumu on Sickle Cell Awareness Month of September.

To achieve this noble cause, she informs us that the organisation is continuously advocating to eradicate the notion that the disease is a curse in the community. Similarly, they have also rolled out various fundraising programmes to support underprivileged children and families suffering from the condition.

They normally convene an annual event dubbed ‘Kuki for Champions,’ where they bring people together and speak to them about sickle cell disease and how it affects the community.

“We use the money that we raise to buy drugs for children living with sickle cell disease from underprivileged families. When we began in 2021, we were able to support 10 children, and in 2022, we were privileged to assist five children to buy drugs for three consecutive months,” she says.

On a positive note, the CBO is planning to hold the annual event, seeking to reach 20 children and above, depending on the amount of money they will raise in October this year.

Additionally, other programmes undertaken by Peperusha Binti include empowering young women on Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH), Gender-Based Violence and Economic Empowerment through teaching them table banking, soap making, mat making, and bead making.

Abusive marriage

“These are things that can bring them income so that one does not feel obligated to stay in a violent or abusive marriage. They always have the will to move forward with their lives because they have something to support their children and themselves in harsh economic times,” notes Odhiambo.

To augment these efforts, the organisation has a programme christened Binti Dialogue, where they have conversations with adolescents on Gender-Based Violence through Art. ‘‘For one to get the attention of young girls, one needs to engage them and be freely able to express what they feel about GBV by drawing and colouring things. We also organise entertainment events,” Odhiambo notes.

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