We hope you had a wonderful end of 2016! We equally hope you are all looking forward to a more bigger, brighter and better 2017. We are the Gbm Foundation had a rough patch during the months of August and September which covered the period when Gabriel died and his corpse was eventually repatriated to Cameroon his motherland for a final farewell . We then went on during the month of November which is Epilepsy Awareness month, to continue raising awareness on this neurobiological disorder which is still so largely stigmatized as originating from all sorts of cause especially witchcraft.
Such false facts and beliefs which are still very propagated especially in our rural areas, actually contribute to a very large extent to the vicious cycle between stigma and shame.
The one ushers the other
Yes, it is such a vicious and troublesome cycle between Stigma and Shame, no efforts should be spared to trash them out. When people don’t know what’s going on, when they can’t explain what’s happening, the ‘natural’ way on is to reject what is happening and put the blame on someone. This blame transfer is stigma in a simple form. The soothsayers who are consulted (because that is usually the choice of action especially in rural areas or poor and suspicious households), are usually quick to point out a cause for the ‘malaise or fainting fits’ as seizures as more commonly known. This cause maybe someone or even the sufferer himself. Once word goes round that someone or even the sufferer is responsible for the fainting fits for whatever reasons, these persons and even their entire families are stigmatized, shunned and treated both directly and indirectly as despicable.
When persons are stigmatized and blamed for any reason, they become ashamed of themselves and tend to shun the world. No wonder that the abodes of ‘witches and wizards and haunted persons even children’ sometimes leaves so much to be desired. Considering the case of the sufferer who is stigmatized either because of his weird disorder and any resulting behavioural, or because he is equally blamed for his own Waterloo, it only makes sense that they feel such great shame and feel rightly and unjustly rejected by society. Such shame and isolation leads to a loss of self-esteem; self-acceptance, and even self-love, ushering in self-loathing, self-pity, self-neglect and self-isolation. Basic instincts of survival in society are slowly but surely replaced by defensive instincts and other self-stigmatization responses. It is clear that the shame which is pushing them to those extremes, will now lead to more stigma from society which finds their behaviour strange enough.
Get Involved to trash out the Stigma and Shame
Fighting against stigma and shame is a continuous struggle simply because there seems to be no end in sight to mankind’s ‘illiteracy’. There seems to equally be some invincible force putting a big and resisting grip on some minds which could have shifted the negative perceptions held by a large chunk of our Cameroon society. The Gbm Foundation for epilepsy and mental wellbeing is contributing its mite, via various forms of social media and other projects, but she desperately needs all the support she can get to keep up with such endeavours. We collaborate with other national and international media bodies to spread the word against stigma, but as a barely two year old organization, our outreach is still limited especially due to unavailable human and other resources. Together, we can achieve more.