Olapeju Agunbiade has carved out an name for herself internationally as an outstanding Nigerian woman who has passion for humanitarian service. A trained midwife by profession, the robustly built African is an household name in the United Kingdom, a country of residence where she has helped tens of women in achieving their goals of child bearing which she did through her mobile clinic in infertility treatment. Concern care, passion and her constant dream of a positive end result drew her to her current humanitarian stance living her life life for women with infertility problem. She had helped thousands more through her radio programmes in the UK and her online Television chat-show which many shy family have seen as an infertility treatment and sex education opening window.
She has an enormous energy for her passion and it shows physically in her:”“Through my journey of infertility, I felt alone and sad and the fact that there was no one to relate with concerning investigations and treatments made it harder”, according to her in this interview. Newswatch FOLAKE SOKOYA met her recently, and she talked about how her passion for being a nurse made her stand up to her father, who had insisted she sat for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and study English Language in the university, not knowing that challenges of infertility would haunt her marriage later. She also shared how she single-handedly sponsored a non-governmental organisation, Let’s Talk About It (LTAI), just for that purpose, and put a smile on someone’s face.
Mrs Olapeju Agunbiade could easily be taken for a woman in the corporate world as a banker or a public relations executive because of her corporate, no-nonsense disposition, but getting closer to her, one will be shocked to know that she is a humble personality with a background in nursing profession.
This outspoken woman said she felt completely alone and sad, with no one to relate with when she found out that infertility was responsible for her not being able to conceive.
According to her: “I went to Bodija International Primary School, Ibadan. My Secondary school was at Saint Annes School, Molete, Ibadan, followed by my admission into the School of Nursing, Eleyele, also in Ibadan. That was a struggle because my late dad had wanted me to go to the university to study English Language or any course I fancied, after which I could go for nursing that was actually my choice of course. Imagine, sentiment! Why must I? Why should I? He even forced me to take JAMB, which I did, but I still refused to go to the university.
I could have studied nursing at the University of Ibadan but that was a different ball game entirely because the training you get in a school of nursing is not what you get at the university. I have always wanted to be a bedside hands on nurse and am glad daddy finally let me be. After graduating from the school of nursing in Ibadan, I went to study midwifery and some other courses in the United Kingdom. HIV/AIDS and assisted reproductive are some of the courses I was privileged to study.”
She became very curious about infertility, wanting to know how she could assist other women facing such challenges and enquired how she could undertake some short courses on assisted reproduction. She ended up having an MSc in Assisted Reproduction after which she left her midwifery job to work in a fertility clinic for two years. Her passion to impart knowledge about infertility thereafter led her to start a programme called Let’s Talk About It (LTAI) on Facebook and a radio programme with the same titled in the United Kingdom.
“Through my journey of infertility, I felt alone and sad and the fact that there was no one to relate with concerning investigations and treatments made it harder. Thank God we have a lovely son now. He’ll be 14 in June by God’s grace. He was our second attempt and we had eight cycles in total.
“I was so curious to the extent that I went for short courses on assisted reproduction and then an MSc in assisted reproduction. I left midwifery and worked in a fertility clinic for two years. After that, I resigned because my mission to know better about infertility had been accomplished. I then decided to start a programme on Facebook in August 2009 and later that year, a radio programme in the UK called Let’s Talk About It (LTAI). This is because it is the “not-talking” that has and is still causing a lot of issues bordering on infertility. Same is the case with lack of understanding that sexual intercourse is not the only way to damage pregnancy,” Agunbiade explained.
To encourage and assist women in finding solutions to whatever issue that people encounter, Agunbiade started her LTAI programme with just a member but within an hour, about 50 members joined when she brought LTAI to Facebook in August 2009.
But as at present, LTAI has gone beyond infertility. The programme has expanded to issues bordering on sex, relationships, and marriages. It has created groups for single parents, prayer group called El- Shaddai and a host of other groups that have to do with infertility. And now, she has about 20,000 members through the radio programme, aside countless number of members on Facebook and on Blackberry messenger list.
She stated further that over 40 pregnancies have been recorded through LTAI just by making out a plan for them when they go or come to her for consultation. This sort of consultation is called referral to fertility clinics. She said confidentiality is not taken lightly at LTAI, else she would have mentioned names of people that have had their infertility issues solved through LTAI.
“I support them all the way because, like I have experienced it too, infertility can be very stressful,” LTAI boss said.
On the criteria for joining the group and if she had met with any of her members aside the ones she has been able to assist in terms of infertility, she said:”I have met a lot of members. LTAI members have been wonderful. I always make efforts for us to meet at least three times a year. It is always an awesome experience when we meet. Many LTAI members supported me when I lost my dad last year. Whao!!!! They went with me all the way fro Ibadan to Ilesha. What can I say? I am truly blessed for having LTAI members in my life.
“Let’s Talk About It is an open group. Anyone can join on Facebook. No criteria. When a member joins and finds it is not what he or she likes, they opt out. As the page owner, am able to keep track.
“Some groups on BBM have criteria. For some, you must be married and others are for single parents. Of course, the criterion for that is obvious. We have a group for people over 40. That age is the criterion. A sex group has criteria as you must be over 30. We have a prayer group, EL shaddai, the backbone of LTAI,” she explained.
Meanwhile, her passion for humanitarianism services did not let her realise that her programme can impart lives better if registered as an NGO. This she is determined to do this year, especially when last Christmas, LTAI members contributed over N107, 000 and spent it on food items and clothes for three orphanages in Nigeria for them to know that they are loved by the LTAI.
However, to create more awareness for people, especially couples on infertility, she is determined to start a television programme on infertility and sex education as well as start visiting schools in Nigeria to lecture them on how to safeguard their fertility by avoiding early and unprotected sex because, according to her, pelvic inflammatory disease is one of the top five reasons of infertility and can be avoided if only sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are talked about and soon, planning a fertility show starting with Lagos State.