Meet:Author, S for Survivor Samira Haruna Sanusi
I first heard of this lady through a friend who introduced me to her story, my interest piqued now I went on her blog just to read a few lines of her account but I was enamoured and hooked to her literary accounts which she related in the warmth of her sincerity you could almost touch yet cold honesty one could feel, i could not stop reading till i got to the end. In the blog she poured out her deepest but stark emotional journey through her pen, it was both compelling yet inspirational prompting me to get a copy of her highly acclaimed book S for Survivor. The poignant and emotionally stirring accounts of her fight with Sickle cell Anaemia, and the motivational conclusion of victory over life altering adversity all detailed in the book. If the story endangers and stimulates hope then her cerebral portrayal outlines the utter depth of her intellectual mien. While such experience leads to self-hate, selfishness in others it actually led her to her own altruistic calling which is to promote and drive awareness for Sickle Cell Advocacy, I am sure if this ailment was human it would have realised that it had picked on the wrong person. In this interview with the testament and testimony behind S for Survivor she expounds her views and perception on a wide range of issues from the mundane to the important, she reveals a lot about herself, family, sickle cell and also her inspiration.
Please read and enjoy her highly motivational interview after the cut…
HibeOnline: Thanks so much for granting us an interview, for the benefit of readers kindly state your full name?Samira: My name is Samira Haruna Sanusi
HibeOnline: Before we delve into the main questions, generally speaking how do you feel health wise?Samira: Health wise, I'm healthy, strong and happy
HibeOnline: what was your life like before you realised the impact of anything called sickle cell, and when actually did you learn of it?
Samira: Before I realized I had Sickle Cell Anemia, life was confusing. I was always sick and struggling to understand if it was just me or it was the same for everyone else. I don't remember what age I found out I had Sickle Cell Anemia, but the moment I found out a lot of things fell into perspective. For starters, the painful crisis started making sense.
HibeOnlline: Having heard some people say they blamed their parents, some said they blamed God others were just in denial who did you blame talk us through your feelings initially?
Samira: I have never blamed anyone for being born with Sickle Cell Anemia. My parents didn't know about their genotype and genetic compatibility before having kids. I accepted the fact that I was different, and this was just my trial in life, since unto each life some rain must fall.
HibeOnline: Now you know about it, what was the response of your friends and non-family members?
Samira: Growing up, it was hard to tell people I had Sickle Cell Anemia. Kids didn't want to play with me, for fear of being infected. There was a lot of ignorance about the disease. A lot of people didn't know that it was a genetic disorder and it could be avoided. Sometimes I was treated as something fragile that could shatter any minute. So people didn't want to play with me or get too close.
HibeOnline: While alone in that hospital going though that battle, a battle no one could share with you, as you sat there wondering what your friends were up to back home and all that apart, from God/Allah what or who were sources of inspiration and motivation, what kept you going?
Samira: My sources of inspiration apart from God were my dad, who kept me going and became my rock. And sometimes total strangers whose lives I touched, seeing the impact I made on people or the hope that I gave them inspired me and gave me purpose.
HibeOnline: Having passed through what most could not even imagine much less dream of, how has this changed or shaped your perception of life generally?
Samira: The whole journey has shaped and defined my life, in a positive way. You can't go through battles like this and come out untouched. The lessons are there to learn, and throughout my journey I realized the importance of hope, love, gratitude, and faith. My perception of life changed in the sense that little and trivial things stopped bothering me. There were always more important things to worry about or look forward to.
Hibe Online: How important are the following to you family, religion, Patriotism?
Samira: Religion and family are two important pillars in my life, without them I don't think I would have survived. When I fell or hit rock bottom, they were there to save me every time.
HibeOnline: what personality trait would you say you developed during that fight which has in turn helped you out in other areas of your life?
Samira: One personality trait I developed that has helped me through is the determination to be happy, despite everything. To be so full of life and joy, because nothing is ever perfect and there are always going to be problems and battles to fight, it was important to me to not allow myself get consumed with anger or sadness.
HibeOnline: Considering the health challenges prior there are so many things you would have missed out on doing, sports, parties and stuff, when you got back and became fit which of those activities did you get into?
Samira: Some activities I was dying to get discharged and catch up on were going to school again, spending time with family & friends, and achieving my dreams. After missing out on so much, I was in such a hurry to make something of my life, partying no longer seemed like a priority.
HibeOnline: You seem totally consumed with the Sickle cell cause, do you get tired at times or ask yourself sometimes that hey I need to give this a rest and live my life?
Samira: I never get tired of spreading awareness about this disease. I taught myself most of what the disease is about, read articles and spoke to Sickle Cell Soldiers about their experiences. The more I learned, the more I wanted to educate and enlighten others. When I think about a child in crisis unable to breathe or stop crying from the pain, I realize the need to do more and commit my life into working on this cause.
Hibeonline: Why has sickle cell being almost extinct in western world yet still many cases in our part of the world?Samira: Sickle Cell Disease is almost extinct in the western world because they have taken great steps into educating their people about the importance of knowing your genotype. There is genetic counselling for those who need it, and a functional health care system that not only treats and manages diseases but also invests in research and development that have helped in minimizing the number of babies being born with the disease. In our part of the world, health care workers are still struggling with people to understand that it is a genetic disease and not some spiritual force. Many people still don't know their genotype or its importance and the role it plays in the lives of their unborn children.
HibeOnline: what are the recent advances in health which can help sickle cell sufferers especially in Africa?
Samira: Better health care facilities and trained medical personnel who are familiar with the disease has helped patients in Africa because it is now easier to walk into a hospital, tell them you're having a Sickle Cell crisis and immediately receive help. Patients living in the west have complained about how many nurses and doctors have no clue when it comes to giving treatment. A lot of patients have even been accused of exaggerating their pain just to get strong pain medication.
HibeOnline: what role is your Organisation playing to bridge the gap of crippling finances for those you are helping out who are not financially buoyant and have you had any help from Government, foreign and domestic NGO etc if not how have you been funding?
Samira: The role my organization plays in helping families living with Sickle Cell Anemia who are not financially stable is providing aid for free. Through our funding and donations, we are able to take care of patients' prescription meds, hospital bills, and access to better doctors & medical facilities. Our funding mostly comes from proceeds from my book titled S is for Survivor, as well as donors who believe in our cause
HibeOnline: what is the greatest challenge you would say you are confronted with in the sickle cell advocacy and your life generally so far?
Samira: The greatest challenge in Sickle Cell advocacy is getting people to know their genotype and take it seriously. Many people know they're not compatible with their partners, but still go ahead to start a family because they're too much in love to see the bigger picture, which is the possibility of giving birth to a child who'll spend the rest of his life in pain.
Hibeonline: now we need to grill you on lighter issues, first for the benefit of those guys kindly state if you are single in a relationship considering many might be intimidated with your drive and ambition?
Samira: I am in a committed relationship.
HibeOnline: when you are not doing more serious stuffs, what do you enjoy doing to let the hair down in a manner of speaking?
Samira: When I'm not working, I'm reading, writing or engaging in intellectual conversations. I also love spending time with people who help me grow.
HibeOnline: Having done some investigations on you, it seems as if you are a foodie hence what are your favourite continental and African food?
Samira: I'm a foodie, my cheeks are living proof. However I don't think I have any favorite foods. I love chicken, but what I eat mostly depends on what I'm craving. I'm also a sucker for Masa and burgers.
HibeOnline: Your favourite holiday destination in the world?
Samira: My favourite holiday destination would have to be my hometown, Funtua. It's my safe haven.
Hibeonline: celebrity crush Nigerian and foreign?
Samira: Celebrity crush; Usher and no one else.
HibeOnine: Describe yourself and your personality/personae?
Samira: I'm quiet and shy sometimes, I have a very loud mind though. I'm principled, and constantly working on improving myself and the lives of people around me.
HibeOnline: what is next for Samira the survivor with upper case S? Other project or initiative do you have in the pipeline that we should be looking out for?
Samira: What's next for me is more Surviving. Life isn't over yet and there will always be battles to fight, and hopefully win. Hopefully I get to continue inspiring people and being a messenger of hope. Other projects I'll be working on include Sickle Cell advocacy and providing aid to more people who are still fighting for their lives.
HibeOnline: name 4 people who have been awesome and phenomenal in their support, motivation in all that you have been through or done over the years?
Samira: 4 people who have been supportive throughout the years and journey are my dad, Uncle J, my brother Musty and lastly, the friends who came in and never left.
HibeOnline: 5 years from now what would you have hoped to do, achieve?
Samira: 5 years from now I hope to have achieved success in creating awareness on Sickle Cell Anemia and getting the government involved in advocacy and proper health care management. We have lost too many soldiers due to complications and lack of a working health care system that could have provided them with a better quality of life.
To learn more about Sickle cell awareness,recent innovations, to seek advice and support or if you know someone who carries this gene reach out to Samira Sanusi through her foundation Samira Sanusi Sickle Cell Foundation also we are personally recommending and endorsing her book S for Survivor it is a must read and you will be supporting a great cause.
Samira Sanusi Tweets from @Saamira_S