A Cameroon Tribune article on the acclaimed new publication that urges empathy for Epileptics and the Mentally Challenged, is another important milestone in the GBM-em’s Foundation campaign to sensitize and mobilize the masses towards the need to eradicate the stigma, shame and taboo surrounding all people with disability. Society has long considered only those with physical disabilities and ailments as needing sympathy and empathy. However, the toughest challenge may as well be for those suffering psychologically due to some brain instability which eventually manifests itself through all the troubled behaviour of the sufferer. These depressing ways of acting out their pain, due really to no intention of theirs but as a means of ‘self – defence’, is so stigmatised and shameful, so much that total isolation sometimes becomes an option. However, all hope is not lost: Hence the publication of this book which in the words of Gabriel’s mother, can help society understand what sufferers like himself go through, and help the Foundation complete the achievement of her son’s dream by eliminating stigma, rejection, marginalization and abuses of such vulnerable members of our society. The book is available in Cameroon in various bookshops like PresBooks, and can also be purchased on the amazon in either print or kindle edition.
An exceptional Book Review of My Brother’s Journey from Genius was equally delivered by the editors of the Publishing House in Cameroon (ANUCAM), on the ocassion of the Launch of both the Gbm Centre and the Book in Cameroon. This event took place on the 3rd of December 2014, a day which is celebrated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities: You can read more of this exceptional and comprehensive review here.
- Construction of the Gbm Center for Epilepsy & Mental Wellbeing
A Centre for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing in Cameroon will definitely be one of its kind. Yet, Epilepsy and Mental Illness are one of those taboos “society” still balks from, not because most are spared from its ravages and delirums, but because of the stigma associated with any such illness. It was but a decade or so ago that the Country saw it’s first Centre for Autism too. Before then and even now, illnesses and disorders such as these are ‘simply’ attributed to withcraft, illluck, bad parenting, and why not demonic attacks.
The GBM Centre for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing, which will be hosted alongside the Helen Atabong Asaba Centre for Diabetes and the empowerement of the Woman and the Girl Child, will serve as the base from which the mission and objectives of the GBM Foundation will be realized in Cameroon. One of such objectives is the fight against stigma, abuse and rejection of the mentally ill.
- Media Advocacy for Epilepsy and Mental Wellbeing
Mrs Bibiana Taku, Gabriel Bebonbechem’s mum and trustee of the Gbm Foundation, honoured an invitation by Ms Amy Banda (Host of the Show Gbm Centre being built, equally becomes a sort of ‘refuge’ for those families still caught up and yet lost in the disastrous web of mental illness. Such media advocacy outreach campaigns, are very much in line with the overall outreach and advocacy objectives of the Gbm Foundation. to join a panel for discussions on Mental Illness. Gabriel’s mum shared her Pain, her Faith and her Hope. She prays that the
- Report From Project Implementation
The Mission Report for the Inclusive Education Project for young epileptics in the Lebialem Division has been published. You can read and download a copy here.
- World Brain Day Celebration under the Theme Epilepsy
The Second World Brain Day was celebrated under the Theme Epilepsy on the 22nd of July 2015, and the Gbm-em Foundation was very present on the field to carry out further advocacy and sensitization campaigns. Reports of activities carried out on that day can be read here.
- Further Media Advocacy
The Gbm Country Director Ms Abanga, honours an invitation on the show Views, Voices and Vision to talk about Mental Health and the work of the Foundation.
- Recognition in an article in the Lancet Neurology: Boost to Gbm
When you embark on a mission as delicate as advocating and fighting myths and stigma surrounding epilepsy, you are always very honoured when your efforts are recognized.In this month’s article of the Lancet Neurology, the caption is all solliciting of dire attention:Plugging epilepsy knowledge gaps in Cameroon. Kindly take five minutes of your time to read the full article here.
- Round Table Conference organized on World Mental Health Day 2015
The theme of this year’s world mental health day is Dignity in Mental Health. What is current situation in Cameroon in as mich as mental health and its patients is concerned? Who are the different crucial stakeholders involved and what should or can be done? This is what the Gbm-em Foundation has invited stakeholders from the most concerned fields to do this 10th of October, set aside by the international community to commemorate World Mental Health.
The panel was comprised of the following persons:
- The Delegate for Public Health for the Littoral Region or his Representative;
The Delegate for Social Affairs for the Littoral Region or his Representative;
The delegate for Labour for the Littoral Region or his Representative;
Representatives of the Gabriel Bebonbechem Foundation for Epilepsy & Mental Wellbeing;
We can listen to the podcast here.
- Maiden Solidarity Walk to Bring Epilepsy out of the Shadows
On the 31st of October 2015, the Gbm-em Foundation will in grand style usher in the month of November considered to be the Epilepsy awareness month. The Founation is organizing a solidarity walk following the plan above, and it will be followed by briefings from the authorities present. Questions and Answers are also forseen so that Epilepsy could really be brought of the Shadows in a country which paradoxically has the highest rate of persons living with epilepsy in the world. This is an amazingly disheartening revelation by the renowned Lancet Neurology with whom the Gbm-em Foundation had the honour of collaborating.
To wrap up our activities in 2015, the Program Director honoured an invitation to the 11th Pan-African Meeting on Medical Laboratory Science held in the Yaoundé Congress Hall Cameroon.
In her presentation on the role of laboratories in the diagnosis, treatment and follow up of persons living with epilepsy, Gbm Program Director highlighted the need for proper diagnosis. As she explained epilepsy is a disease characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition; there is absolute need for proper diagnosis of this illness and so proper diagnosis is indispensable for appropriate treatment to be recommended. Such will contribute to the fight against stigmatization of persons living with and/or affected with epilepsy.
The Gbm foundation conceived an inclusive education project for young persons living with epilepsy. As part of the implementation of this project, the foundation sponsored a medical mission to its pilot area of Fontem Sub-Division. Following the success of the first of such mission which was held in 2015, a follow up mission was carried out in Febuary 2016. This mission was geared at monitoring and evaluating those who were consulted and screened during the last mission, as well as identify new cases of students who because of their epileptic seizures and the surrounding stigma were either having a difficult time in school or are were contemplating quitting altogether.
The mission this time around was preceded with a one day training of medical personnel on the ground, in the best practices to care for persons suffering from epilepsy. The neurologist in total screened about 25 new cases age 25 and below.
Recently, in August, 2016, the Gbm foundation sponsored a Fon’s football club tournament in the Essoh Atah Fondom in Fontem – Lebialem Division, a small village in the South West Region of Cameroon with a high prevalence of epilepsy. This sponsorship, in partnership with the paramount ruler of the fondom was geared at rallying young people from the Fondom so that through their sportsmanship, they may be informed about various aspects of epilepsy and how to care for a person living with epilepsy. The ultimate aim of this engagement was to advocate within and sensitize the community so as to improve awareness and knowledge on how to manage seizures, facilitate practices that will create an optimal learning environment for pupils/students/individuals living with and or affected by epilepsy and mental illness. Epilepsy and mental illness should no longer be taboo, and stigmatizing people living or affected by this conditions are to be fought against.
In furtherance of its goals and objectives, the Gbm Foundation, is currently working on the production and distribution of over 4000 copies, of a Teachers’ handbook on Epilepsy for Schools. The initiative, came as a result of a baseline survey, commissioned by the Gbm-em Centre in the pilot area of the Lebialem Division in the South West Region of Cameroon. The Teachers’ handbook will serve to sensitize teachers and students as identified caregivers of people living with epilepsy in school milieus. The books are expected to be made available by the month of October 2016.
In line with the fight against stigma, rejection & abuse of persons living with epilepsy and a mentally illness, availability of medication and treatment for patients, the Gbm foundation is working on availability of mobile clinic services. Due to the poor road network of most of Cameroon’s local community, the epilepsy mobile clinics will serve to deliver medicines and medical attention to person in dire need.
These mobile clinics will rotate from village to village starting with the Essoh Attah Fondom, the Njohgwi and Mbetta villages. The project relies heavily on the collaboration of the respective traditional rulers and authorities and Gbm’s partners like the Regional Delegations for Health and Social Affairs Respectively. The paramount ruler of Essoh Attah who happens to be the regional delegate for social Affairs for the Western Region is very committed to the project and this is a good indicator of a potential high success rate of the pilot. The success of this pilot will facilitate replication in the 16 other villages of Lebialem Division.
The Gabriel Bebonbechem Foundation & Center for Epilepsy & Mental wellbeing in partnership with the Otabong Asaba Association (OCA) for diabetes and empowerment of the Woman & the Girl Child, is organizing another medical mission to the Lebialem Division in the South West Region for the 22nd and 23rdof April 2017. The mission will be hosted by the Mary Health of Africa Hospital, Fontem.
The aim of the medical mission is to carry out consultations, diagnosis and treatment by a team of medical experts on a wide range of diseases with highlight on epilepsy, and diabetes. Other common illnesses plaguing our people such as cancer will be examined. The medical mission will raise awareness and sensitize the population on epilepsy, and its attending stigma, diabetes,cancer, and share knowledge on general health care. This medical mission will be led by the medical team of CNN Hero Doctor Georges Bwele of ASCOVIME and his team of specialists. We are expecting a massive turn out from the entire Lebialem and its environs including neighboring Manyu and Njongo.