By Amarachi Amachukwu and Ifunanya Duru
The first Parent-in-Waiting Conference organised by the Ibidunni Ighodalo Foundation (IIF) held amidst fanfare penultimate week at the Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos. The conference was conceived to raise awareness on issues pertaining to infertility and to provide grants for couples that require fertility treatments such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Intrauterine Insemination.
The foundation partners with highly reputable fertility clinics in Nigeria and with other donors to provide couples with the financial and material support they require during the treatments. IIF also provides the necessary psychological and spiritual support required to deal with the pressures they face along the journey to conception.
IIF is the brainchild of Ibidunni, former beauty queen and wife of accountant and founder of the Trinity House, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo. Her quest for a child has been painstaking, leading her to explore all the legal options available. Almost every step she took towards her goal was met with annoying hindrance. In a moment of weakness and frustration, she considered suicide. She thought if she could not have a child, there was nothing worth living for. After all, several doctors had foreclosed the possibility of her having a child unless it came through assisted reproduction. She has been waiting for the fruit of the womb for over a decade.
Eleven IVF treatments after, she only conceived once. Sadly, she lost the baby. But instead of wallowing in self-pity, she decided to become a ‘wounded healer’ as the Founder and Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre, Matthew Ashimolowo, described her at the event.
In 2016, she launched her foundation and kicked off the grant to help couples overcome the financial, spiritual and psychological trauma of waiting for a child. The foundation partnered with certified fertility clinics in Nigeria to provide fertility services to 28 couples. Success stories from the first batch include 15 successful treatments, five confirmed pregnancies and one successful delivery. A beneficiary of her grant, Bodunrin and Lola Oye, recently welcomed a set of twins, the first by the foundation!
For this year, about 381 applications were received by the foundation out of which 100 were screened. 50 passed the scrutiny of the medical team, but the foundation could only afford to sponsor 10. Even though, she set out to help one couple at a time, Ibidunni, the compassionate woman who established the endowment, is always heart-broken to learn that there are many candidates who cannot be accommodated in her funding. At least, over N1.3 million is needed to sponsor IVF and other methods of assisted reproductive procedures for one couple.
However, not a few wiped a stream of tears rolling down their faces at this year’s conference. Three people, who were chosen but did not show up, were replaced after their names were called repeatedly. To support the good cause, Ashimolowo announced he would sponsor two. The number was raised to 12. Shouts of joy filled the hall as Mr. Tonye Cole of Sahara Group offered to finance treatment for two other couples. Ashimolowo was moved again to add another couple. At the end of the day, 15 couples were given access to the IIF grant. Ashimolowo encouraged other couples that didn’t make the list and prayed for those who did that their testimonies will be complete.
The audience was entertained by a series of monologues presented by a seven-member cast that dramatised the trauma faced by couples suffering from infertility. The theatre production broadened the enlightenment on infertility. At the end of the day, even if the play was all the IIF could present, the characterisation and acting conveyed strong messages on the subject of infertility.