Colours have been used in so many ways. The brightness of our dresses. The colourful array of the foods we eat, the variety and colourfulness of creation and most recently, the sea of colours displayed at the ongoing Olympic Games which lends credence to the fact that colours rule and without colours, life could be so bland in black and white.
When it comes to health campaigns and awareness movements, colours have been used prominently to draw attention to specific health and social conditions. For example, we have pink for Breast Cancer, Green for Kidney Awareness, Blue for Autism Acceptance, Orange for GBV, and finally Red/ black/ white with Red as a prominent colour for Sickle Cell Awareness
When I timidly began my advocacy journey with Sickle Cell in 2015, I always thought of how to incorporate colour and fashion in raising awareness. A quick Google search helped me see that red was one of the prominent and most popular colours of sickle cell disorder. It was an exciting moment because I have always had a thing for the colour red and I was so excited I would be using one of my favourite colours to increase awareness for a cause dear to my heart.
And so, the first #BreakTheSilence...#BeASickleCellVoice colour awareness campaign was launched in 2016. Since then, it has become a yearly campaign during June as the world prepares to celebrate World Sickle Cell Day each June 19th. And each year, I get so many people join in to wear red for sickle cell.
The just ended campaign of this year which made it 5years and 6 seasons of using colour to raise awareness was so special in so many ways. Not only did World Pulse Sisters join me in solidarity wearing red, many went as far as to rally more of their friends and colleagues to join the campaign trail.
I met Dr Aastha here on the pulse and our first contact was when she sent me a message asking if I would like to join her "my first period" campaign. After asking what was involved and what I needed to do, I agreed to join. That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. A few months later, I am doing my campaign on Sickle Cell and she was so impressed following it on IG that she decided to join in. Not only that, she rallied her Dr friends in a short period of time to join in as well. Again, she made it possible for me to have a zoom talk with some of these Drs in partnership with their Organisation, Udankar. It was a beautiful moment and show of solidarity and support for a worthy cause which I truly appreciate.
Sisters Loretta and Stella also did something special and similar. Not only did they walk with me, but they also rallied their colleagues and mentees to join the campaign.
And when Sister Feka not only joined the online campaign almost daily but went as far as coming for the outreach event organised during World Sickle Cell Day, I was so touched by the love and show of solidarity.
Sister Regina Young not only showed up in red, posting her pictures across her social media platforms but was ready to help me not only to organise an outreach in Bamenda despite the war and it's challenges but was also willing to go the extra mile to seek a trainer for the basic skill training we were incorprorating this year. Though things didn't work out as planned as at the end, we had to partner with another sickle cell organisation in Bamenda,this show of love and solidarity means a lot to me.
My able mentor and sister, Stella Paul despite her especially tight schedule still made time to stand with me in red solidarity, sharing about the colour campaign for sickle cell across her social media platforms.
Sisters Marie Abanga, Veronica Ngum, Anne Chantal couldn't be left out either. And when I asked Sister Lena Yvonne as one person who has steadily followed the campaign all these while if she could be one of the symbolic five to share how five years of using colour to raise awareness on Sickle Cell has changed her perception about Sickle Cell, she readily agreed to be a part despite her busy and tight schedule and Anne Chantal was just as ready to come in with her expertise to fuse all the shot videos collected into one very beautiful collection of five powerful voices endorsing the campaign.
Looking back on this campaign, I felt a strong sense of solidarity and love. Those who were able to visibly join in and those who silently cheered me on. The solidarity pulsing across the globe by virtue of being a part of this beautiful family could not be missed and as I look back, I am so grateful because in so many ways, the ripple effect keeps spreading. So many people across the four corners of the globe are now aware of the need of wearing a shade of red in June for sickle cell because of the solidarity action of every world pulse sister who has joined me year in, year out and especially now.
The dream has always been to make sure that one day, people will just automatically wear red for sickle cell in June as they do pink for breast cancer or orange for 16 days of activism against GBV and I can confidently say, each year takes this dream closer to this reality of making the world.go red for sickle cell in June and this, is because of the beauty of solidarity and a global sisterhood standing hand in hand with each other for worthy causes.
A privilege to belong as we continue to build such revoluntionary solidarities in.love and sisterhood across the globe.