“I will do my best and give hope to children living with Down Syndrome”
Adetola Makinde, founder, Mo Rainbow Foundation
Adetola Makinde is a B.Sc. holder in Business Management from Usman Danfodio University. She is the founder of Mo Rainbow Foundation and Mo Rainbow Down syndrome Ability Centre, which are both non-profit organisations. She left her banking career to be a full-time mom, after she gave birth and her daughter was diagnosed with the Down syndrome.
In this interview with Women Of Rubies, Adetola Makinde shares a touching and inspiring story of how her life changed after her daughter, Moyinoluwa, came into the world with Down syndrome, and the inspiration behind Mo Rainbow Foundation.
As the first child of my parents, I’ve always been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of my siblings and being a good example to them. I grew up in a family, where cousins and relatives came on holidays or resided with us. I’ve lost count of the number of people my parents trained and supported from childhood through school and work, up until they got married. My parents were very accommodating and they taught me how to be content and responsible. They are great givers and all these formed a greater part of my core values, as I grew up being a giver, who also loves making people happy.
More about me
My name is Adetola Makinde. Some people I’ve known for over three decades call me Sola. I love to be called TM. In my primary school days, I remember secretly coveting the name ‘Precious,’ as I used to wonder why my parents did not give me an English name. I am from Ikare-Akoko in Ondo State and the first of three children. I started my education with Stee international School, (popularly known as Subuola Nursery and Primary School back in1978). I attended FGGC Bida for a while before crossing over to Federal Government Girls College, Shagamu, in Ogun State. I later obtained a B.Sc. in Business Management from Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
My first job was with the United Bank of Africa Plc, and I worked in the corporate banking sector, and five other branches of this great organisation for 11 years, until I had my daughter in 2011.
Resigning from banking career to follow her passion
I figured God was trying to change my career path, even though I loved working in the banking sector. God in heaven must have said, “Hey girl, it is time to move unto a greater assignment.” So, it happened that I had my baby in 2011 and about five days later, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. This of course came as a rude shock and instead of resuming after my maternity leave, I tendered my resignation letter. I was about to dance to a different type of music, one people don’t like dancing, which is caring for my daughter. I had a prior knowledge and exposure to the condition and I knew I would not be able to cope with the responsibilities at work, as I had been given a higher role to play. I was just too sure that “returning to work would not work for me”.
I had prayed to have a baby girl and my prayers were answered in a miraculous way that has now birthed a purpose for my life. My little bundle, which initially caused me pain, had God’s purpose for my life, wrapped in that pain which has now turned to passion. For the life of me, I couldn’t believe my career would come to an end, but who am I to complain? It was a very tough decision coupled with sleepless nights, heart racing moments because of fear of the unknown. I had to be brave and just sacrifice for my children, more so, it hit home and I had to start running around to ensure my daughter had all the medical help and therapy that would save her life. God was there for me and I just could still see through a window how merciful and faithful He still is through my pain. I knew I was faced with a herculean task of caring for a vulnerable child, who is a blessing in disguise. I knew the benefits my baby would derive from early support. The first three years in the life of children, especially those with additional needs are very crucial and I told myself I would give my baby all the best care and support that I could and leave the rest for God.
Inspiration behind Mo Rainbow Foundation
The name Mo is Moyin’s nickname and the Rainbow was a name God gave me. We had put in another name and followed up with CAC to conclude the search, but the name was not approved because the whole process lasted longer than three months. One very cold morning, before daybreak, I woke up to use the bathroom and I heard a voice saying, “Look up, what do you see in the sky?” While I was still trying to think, I heard the answer “Rainbow”. I was transfixed and immediately sent a text to my lawyer and in two weeks, the name Moyinoluwa Rainbow Foundation was released and approved. The rainbow signifies hope and God’s promise, after the flood that destroyed the earth. It gives our children hope to live again. The fact that you have a child with a certain form of additional needs is not the end of the world. There is life after a Down syndrome diagnosis; it’s not the end of the world.
The inspiration behind Mo Rainbow began after my initial frustration of not getting early intervention. God gave me this vision one day in my living room, after Moyin turned three and I could only look back and appreciate God even more, as we had moved from struggles (with feeding, crawling, standing, walking, talking, heart surgery) to success. I met a two-year-old boy in church, who had never had any form of intervention and this tore me apart. That night, as I sat on my bed, folding my clothes, I heard a voice saying, “now you see you’re not alone. Go out and minister to these children. Be the light, be the solution, show and share the benefits of early intervention and all I’ve exposed you to”.
That night, I wept like a baby, knowing I was about to go through a path I never imagined. I followed up with the little boy, and today, Victor has turned four and with care and constant therapy, he is happy and improving gradually. This vision was confirmed by two people close to my heart, whom I never discussed my vision with at the early state, as I wanted clarity on this matter without prejudice.
I returned with Moyin from the U.S. after an unusual long stay and had to wear braces on her legs with therapy shoes and hip helper and then people began to say to me to let her be and take off those shackles and chains off her legs. I would just smile and tell them sorry she would need to wear them. Some made me feel I didn’t have faith…oh well, I did and of course it was the size of a mustard seed.
The short of it is that I was blessed to have had help with early intervention from when Moyin was two weeks old, as I would be in the room with her till 1pm every day, trying to understand her body, features and help her with various exercises and oral motor massages. Frankly, I never cared about scornful looks, as I had keyed into early intervention and wouldn’t let go. My grits was eventually passed on to Moyin, as she became a fighter with every passing day. She learnt to be confident with the support friends and family daily gave her.
On family support
Well, all through this journey, my husband supported me. He was and is still there for us all. Our little Mo gives him so much joy. It was also with his consent that I left my job, as we both knew that working in the bank would divide my attention in caring for our daughter.
My reaction on being a recipient of the Wise Women Awards
The award given to me is called “THE TURNAROUND AWARD”. I was overwhelmed with joy and that quickly ministered to me that finding purpose is fulfilling, and focusing on your vision over ambition is rewarding. I really appreciate Pastor Mrs. Majorie Esomowei, the founder, the wise Women international, Wise women Awards UK and Nigeria, for creating this wonderful platform. I believe your ministry does not have to be in church before God blesses you. He simply makes provision for every vision. I appreciate everyone supporting us, following us on social media channels and watching us. It’s a life changing experience for me.
Other projects and activities
We are on a rescue mission and I find it heart wrenching, when I discover that a child has not had the relevant support from birth, because of our weak support system. The story I hear is always either the parent has refused to seek the right help, kept the child at home and prevented him or her from mingling with others, has taken their child from one mountain to another seeking for deliverance with some voodooist or wishing the child away or dead.
Due to the high rate of ignorance of this condition, we have had a 5km walk for Down syndrome, where over 100 people came out to step for Down syndrome, creating awareness in Amuwoodofin Local Government Area. Our open-house party was to create awareness in the media and around our community. We have had “CANDID TALK ON DOWN SYNDROME,” where we invite parents to come and learn how to support their children/wards because it involves a back-to-back intervention. We also invite caregivers and therapists to learn how to support any child in their care. Sharing ideas helps us to take the right steps, when faced with difficult times with the child. It helps us to be pro-active.
We would frequently gather parents to enable them have Skype sessions and physical sessions with our consultants. We would also be partnering with Star of Hope Transformation Foundation, a foundation that turns ‘Trash into Treasure,” the Down syndrome foundation of Nigeria and other organisations that would project our work with children living with Down syndrome. Presently, Breakforth Women Outreach (Nigeria and Ireland), Women of faith Foundation (UK), LOJ logistics (NIG), Africa’s Unforgotten Angels (USA), SoksesJewelery (UK), Adoke resources (Nig.), are partnering with us in various ways and we are still hopeful for more partnership and support from other organisations and individuals. I will do my best to give hope to children faced with this condition. Not being much of tech savvy, I have found myself creating awareness on various social media platforms about this cause and God has brought many friends our way all over the world via these channels, though we are yet to get our first support from any organisation.
The greatest reward so far has been receiving testimonies from parents about their child’s improvement. I get testimonies every week and I have a wonderful team working with the children. I derive fulfilment of purpose each time parents give me feedbacks and I appreciate their perseverance. This summer, I was so on cloud nine, when a parent requested that I should have her daughter stay in our home for a while, so she could take a rest. I quickly carried my husband along and gave him like two weeks notice. He obliged and God helped us, it became a reality. The little girl happens to be intuitive and smart, so it was another opportunity to let her explore and teach her new things.
On whether Nigerians are compassionate enough to children with Down syndrome
We are far from it. I once posted my daughter’s picture on Instagram and received a derogatory comment I had to delete. I wept that day, because it made me realise people’s ignorance and it made me more determined to advocate for every child and adult living with Down syndrome. Something good will come of them, because they are made in God’s image and likeness. Down Syndrome can visit any family, but it’s what you do with it that matters. I will keep fighting for inclusion for our children and there is no looking back. The society needs to understand that advocates of all forms of disability in Nigeria need them to listen and contribute their quota, as much as they can. I see our children living happily without any form of stigma or name-calling. One of our objectives is to ensure the on-going stigmatisation children face is stopped.
I Am A Woman Of Rubies
I believe answering this call has paved a way for a bright future for children living with this life-long condition. I am fulfilled, because families that are angry with God or the child, thinking He is angry with them can now realise they are wrong. When at the end of each day I see parents showing more love to their child, I know I can sleep with both eyes closed, because through me, a strong bond has been built between them and the child is sure of their total support.
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