THE response rate was unprecedented. A public appeal for funds to treat of a victim of ovarian cancer, Mayowa Ahmed, generated more than N80 million a few days after the campaign was launched through the efforts of Nollywood actress, Toyin Aimakhu, and Miss Aramide Kasumu, the director of Lifestake Foundation, a Lagos-based non governmental organisation (NGO). The idea was to raise funds for a surgery that would be carried out on Mayowa in a hospital in Atlanta, United States of America.
Nigerians, big and small, rose to the challenge and contributed generously to the #GoFundMe campaign such that about N82 million was raised within a short time But Mayowa’s ugly story would later turn uglier as efforts to save her life was later enmeshed in controversy, following Aimakhu’s alleged declaration in the social media that the fund raiser was a scam.
The police, who intervened in the matter and froze the account where the sum raised was deposited, after investigating the allegations the two parties levelled against each other, described the controversy as a mere misunderstanding.
Another widow of opportunity to save Mayowa, who at the time was a stage IV cancer patient, opened when the police lifted the ban on the account, opening the way for her to be transferred to a hospital in South Africa, whcih had allegedly offered to carry out a surgery to save her life.
However, it turned out an effort too little too late, as Mayowa, who was flown to South Africa for treatment on August 10 died 11 days later. Her death was announced by a family member, Asiwaju Foye, in a series of tweets.
The tweet had stated: “By Allah, in whose hands our lives is, Mayowa Ahmed has left us in this world. We pray that Jannat becomes her home #RipMayowa. She tried, we tried but God’s will prevailed #RipMayowa.”
But for most Nigerians, the mourning days appear to have ended and they are now asking what becomes of the millions raised from the #SaveMayowa campaign.
A representative of the Ahmed family, Tope Adeniran, who spoke with The Nation, said the family was still mourning Mayowa’s loss. Tope, who sounded distraught, said: “I am not ready to talk to any journalist on any story. I just lost someone, can’t you guys sympathise with us?”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ms. Dolapo Badmus, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said that the police would brief the media on the matter at the appropriate time on what would be done with the remaining sum realised from the campaign.
Badmus said: “We are all human beings. When a life is lost, the first thing is to commiserate with the family. Right now, we are condoling with members of Mayowa’s family. I don’t think the issue of money should be the first thing for us to be talking about right now. So, we want to leave the family for some time to go through their private period of mourning. But at the appropriate time, we will feed the members of the press back on the decisions we have made. We will still act at the appropriate time.”
Some leaders of non-governmental organisations involved with women causes and health care also shared their thoughts with The Nation on what can be done with the fund.
The Executive Director, Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), Mrs. Betty Abah believes that Mayowa’s family, after they must have mourned her sufficiently, should make a public statement on what they intend to do with the fund.
Abah said: “As the saying goes, the deed has been done and we cannot question God. It is time to take the next step and that should be fully characterised by transparency in the light of the recent controversy. My thoughts would be that they can donate to a charity organisation having to do with cancer.
“I really can’t recall hearing much from the family following Mayowa’s death. I think they need to make a statement thanking the supporters, as well as stating the way forward, and that should include the use of the fund.”
In the opinion of Dr Femi Olaleye, the founder and medical director of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, a foremost NGO that offers health services in cancer related ailments for women, the funds generated should be donated to a cancer foundation so that more women can be saved.
Olaleye said: “There are lots of women to help in cryotherapy, breast cancer surgery and other women related cancer ailments. My foundation offers free breast and cervical screening for women every Friday.
“So there is a lot of opportunities for them to do great with that money and give back. I will manage it for them. If not even all of it, they can use some of it and give back to other women who can come here and access treatment. More impact can be made that way.”
Efforts to speak with Toyin Aimakhu on the latest development were futile. It will be recalled that in the wake of the controversy surrounding the funds after the alarm she raised on her suspicions of Mayowa’s family’s motives, Aimakhu took to her tweeter handle to explain her involvement in the fund raiser.
In the said tweet, the actress had said: “I want to state for the records that I have never been a fraud and will never partake in one, not even at this stage of my career (which I hold to heart).
“All my efforts were strictly on humanitarian grounds without recourse to any pecuniary consideration or the resort to cheap fame.
“That said, whatever discomfort my reactions may have cost anyone from any quarters is highly regretted and I take responsibility.
“Whilst I wish Mayowa a quick recovery and divine intervention, I want to urge us as a people to continue to exhibit that enviable Nigerian spirit of compassion and generosity and not because of this isolated case cease to be our sister/brother’s keeper.”
With the death of Mayowa, it is obvious that the last has not been heard of the controversial #GoFundMe campaign funds.
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