It’s a New Year, New Hopes and aspirations, New Grace. Happy 2010 everyone.
I would like to introduce a monthly interview series to our blog. The interview series will be about special people in the non-profit world we move in. They touch us with their passion, their generosity and their strength.
Our first blog for the year is an interview with K’arale’s founder, the extra-and not ordinary Folasade Ogunsola!!
Folasade Ogunsola is a Professor of medical microbiology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos. Her education background includes an MB CHB and a Masters degree from the University of Lagos and a PHD from University of Wales. She is happily married to Segun Ogunsola and has 3 lovely children.
Tell me how you first got involved with K’arale?
It was through my work
with Kuramo. My first encounter with them was in a research capacity [A Bill and Melinda Gates sponsored research on the prevention of HIV and STI amongst women aged 15-24 in the coastal slums of Victoria Island] but it gradually evolved into provision of health services to the community. A relationship was forged with the community and we couldn’t just walk away without doing more. Communities like theirs which were hard to reach [both socially and physically] had fallen through the cracks of the health system and were thus unable to access the most basic of them.
What has surprised you most about working with people at risk? I know you have worked intimately with commercial sex workers in Kuramo, Apapa, Mushin...
How much like the rest of us they are. They have same aspirations to be important members of the society, provide for their children and family, have their own home, have a settled life. I never had a preconceived idea about the community [thieves or swindlers or prostitutes as the media would tell you]. I only felt they were disadvantaged. They do have their ingenuous ways of getting money out of you but that only happened a few times before we wizened up and made friends with the few rough ones.I also met hardworking, strongly religious people living there. And they all managed to live relatively peacefully without judging each other. amazing
Tell me about some of the people you’ve met while working on K’arale’s mission.
Can I not mention names? Getting doctors to work in Kuramo wasn’t easy. I remember a certain female Doctor B. She got a job offer from the Lagos State Govt[a job with a proper structure and security afterall Kuramo clinic was based on a grant] But she turned the job down to work in Kuramo; a community that at that point were largely unappreciative of our efforts. I am sure her husband and family members taught her mad.It made me realize that there were still people to whom medicine was a vocation and I was inspired to continue.
What do you find most challenging about a non profit like K’arale?
I am quite reserved so raising funds to do what needs to be done is tough because I have to do lots of talking and networking.
What’s the best/worst thing to happen since you started K’arale?
Best is the aha moment when I got the name. So far so good no worst moment!
What do you wish other people knew about K’arale?
How committed we are about doing our bit to ensure access to health for the very poor. What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about K’arale’s mission?
We cannot be a healthy nation without taking care of the poor. Providing health is their most basic right.
When your friends/family found out about K’arale and that you maybe working in unwelcoming communities, what do they say or ask?
Tell me about someone who influenced your decision to start the nonprofit K’arale. The Kuramo villagers. Their courage and cheerfulness in the midst of their troubles as well as their trust in us.
What might we be surprised to know about you? That I love to sing and often burst into song when I am happy.
Do you think the interest in Reproductive health Issues/HIV/AIDS is growing or waning? It is growing and we are beginning to explore solutions that impact the community more and are less conventional such as training traditional birth attendants.
What do you think will change about K’arale and its mission over the next five years? We will get bigger and will become a household name for grassroot health all over Nigeria.
How would your family describe you?
You will need to ask them
So I did: 'Kind', 'Warm', 'Meticulous', 'Hardworking', 'Elegant', 'Bossy', 'Demanding'
How would your staff/students describe you?
Again you'll need to ask them
And I did: 'Focused', 'Hardworking', 'Thorough', 'Goal orientated', 'Stylish', 'Doer', 'Brilliant' What do you do when you aren’t working?
Read, vegetate in front of the TV
What would you tell someone who is thinking about donating to K’arale?
No contribution is too small. We are an ethical organisation and we will certainly give you an account of the money spent.
Isnt she amazing? You are welcome to ask Prof more questions about what makes her and K'arale tick!