Dementia Friends Nigeria recently launched with the help and support of Alzheimer’s Society in the UK. Here Kiki, founder of Dementia Friends Nigeria and Rossetti Care Ltd, tells us more about the impact the programme is having in Nigeria and how Alzheimer’s Society is helping countries around the world to launch Dementia Friends.
She knelt down, sobbing uncontrollably and muttering, “Please, God forgive me! Baba, please forgive me, please help me, I did not know, I did not understand…..”!
That was a month ago, and this is her story:
Her father’s decline was rapid and the villagers became aware of it before she did because she worked in the city and only visited once or twice a year. The symptoms according to her were: he talked to ghosts; he would disappear into the forest for days, and when found, he would be naked, dirty and bloodied; he never slept; he spoke in tongues, and was verbally and physically abusive towards everybody including family members.
There were whispers of witchcraft and madness in the village.
“I felt shame. I practically disowned him,as I stopped visiting him altogether. He died within the year, and all I felt was great relief and release – all mine. It is now almost 10 years after his death. I now know that he must have had Dementia. My new knowledge came too late to help my father, but I can help others. Now I wonder why I never once stopped to consider how Baba felt. All that was on my mind then was how nobody would marry me, because of how he made me and the family look to the entire village!”
The woman is now a very active and vocal Dementia Friends Champion.
Alzheimer’s Society has been working closely with countries like Nigeria to help launch Dementia Friends around the globe, from assisting with the resources that need to be developed, through to marketing advice, operations guidance and other important aspects of the programme. Alzheimer’s Society is committed to creating a global Dementia Friends movement, and helping to spread understanding and social action worldwide.
Prior to the launch of Dementia Friends Nigeria, many people from across communities in Nigeria were taken through the Dementia Friends Champions resources; from chiefs of entire villages and religious leaders to those who work in schools and hospitals. Each person was tasked with creating 100 Dementia Friends.
As of 16th February, Nigeria has 67,755 Dementia Friends! Nigeria has a population of over 186 million – about 2.5% of the world’s population. There is a long way to go, but this is a very encouraging start.