Walking into Salamander café, I could see that the room was packed and while I was standing, before I could get a seat, I got a glimpse of Samira’s face and she waved at me so I waved right back. I couldn’t wait to say hello to her as we had only previously spoken on the phone.
I was on my seat when Samira came over to say hello. People say you tend to sympathize with soldiers (sickle cell patients) but when I met Samira, all I could see was strength. She had an aura of confidence around her and I expected that. She was standing right next to me and talking to her younger brother, which I found endearing.
During the book reading, other soldiers came out to speak about their experiences with crises and even with people around them. They aim to spread awareness about sickle cell and in so doing, try to prevent it.
Samira is a soldier because she defeated sickle cell after a long battle and she shares her story with everyone in her book.
It was filled with laughs and touching moments so I picked up a copy, eager to do two things:
To read the book and…
To meet up with Samira for a chat
I read the book and finally got to meet the busy Samira for a little chat at Salamander café where her book is on sale.
What do you do?
Samira: right now I focus on my foundation. The one I started recently called the Samira Sanusi Sickle Cell foundation. Our major focus is creating awareness about sickle cell disease, providing aid to patients who can’t afford day-to-day medication, helping them with hospital bills because they tend to get admitted a lot.
Who else is involved with your foundation?
Samira: There’s my sister who was also a sickle cell patient and then there was my uncle, my family doctor.. I’ve known him for years and a close friend of mine. Just people who share the same passion and goal in creating sickle cell awareness.
What inspired you to tell your story?
Samira: Mostly people. During the first few years of my journey, I had no idea why everything was happening. I was so lost and confused about everything that was going on in my life and my dad kept telling me there’s a purpose for everything but I didn’t realize that was true until 3 years down the line when I was talking to new friends. They said my story was so inspiring and that I should tell it because it would bring hope to people. I realised that something that was so painful, and still is, can bring hope to someone else. To show them they are not alone and this too shall pass.
Whom do you look up to as a role model?
Samira: My dad (she giggles fondly). He has been a pillar of strength for me. Part of why I didn’t give up was because he was fighting so fiercely for me. I admire who he is
What was your highest point through the whole journey?
Samira: the day I was told that my transplant was a success cause I lived with the disease for fifteen years.. It was devastating ‘cause I was sick every month, I had to be away from school, I couldn’t have a normal childhood. It worked and for the first time, I felt like ‘okay, life makes sense again’. I felt like I won!
How did you feel being told you would not make it through?
Samira: I didn’t really care when I was told because I was already down. I was like whatever. If I’m going to die, I’ll die and if I’m not going to die, I won’t. I didn’t even have the energy to care about that and I felt like I had to be strong for my dad
Your lowest point?
Samira: when my transplant almost failed.
What got you through all the low moments?
Samira: my family. Their love and support
what message do you have for someone who is going through a situation similar to the one you went through?
Samira: not giving up, it counts! You won’t always wake up feeling like smiling. I knew that there would be a day when I would wake up and everything would be better. Its okay not to smile, its okay to cry or want to punch somebody but just don’t give up.
… In her book, Samira mentioned how her smile still falls a bit due to her illness and it immediately made me think of J Cole’s Crooked Smile. There is nobody like Samira and because of everything she went through, being able to smile makes her incredibly beautiful.
Tell me what you think about Samira and her story? firstname.lastname@example.org