Young epilepsy Botswana fights to end epilepsy

Leungo Mokgwathi
PREVIOUS WALK: Last year's Young Epilepsy Botswana's Purple Walk event

Young Epilepsy Botswana (YEB) in its continued efforts to spread awareness on the condition of epilepsy will embark on the 8th installment of the Purple Walk this Saturday, 25th March.

In line with this, YEB held a media training workshop on Monday to sensitize media practitioners on reporting about epilepsy.

The training rounded up experts and individuals to share and impart knowledge and their experiences concerning epilepsy.

Members of the media had the opportunity of learning about the science behind epilepsy from Sedilega based Neurologist Dr. Ookeditse Ookeditse. MRI Botswana then took them through seizure first aid education while Dr. Ryan Mosimanegape from the Ministry of Health and Wellness spoke on controlling epilepsy and the government’s efforts.

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After her daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy, Naledi Khan established Young Epilepsy Botswana to share knowledge and information on the condition after realizing that the public’s understanding was based mostly on myths and half truths.

“When Ithabeleng was diagnosed, I had very little knowledge of epilepsy and what it was about. I remember the first time she had a seizure, how i panicked and even thought she might have been on drugs”

She noted that when the diagnosis was made, it felt unreal, as though her world had come to a sudden stop. “My biggest fear was for my daughter, how she would navigate the quick paced and unfriendly world around her.”

“It was intensely difficult for her at school. There were days when I would drop her off at school and get a call five minutes later that she had fainted.” To make it even more difficult, she says there was a lot of stigma surrounding her condition”

“That was when I set myself up for educating and raising awareness on epilepsy. My first stop was the school Ithabeleng went to.”

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“It is quite a difficult path for any parent to undertake and I learnt early on that parents as well need psychological guidance when raising children with such conditions. It starts with acceptance, educating yourself and ultimately realising that children with epilepsy can also lead normal lives.”

The vibrant Ithabeleng Khan affirmed her mother’s words. “As difficult as it was in the beginning, as I grew older, I started being more knowledgeable and mindful of my condition. What helped a lot was that I started paying more attention to my triggers.”

She delightfully informed that she has not had a seizure in three years. “ There were quite a number of things I was told I would never be able to do, I was told that I might never be able to have children but I have raised two beautiful children.”

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Ithabeleng is certain that if more people join in to spread awareness on epilepsy, the education will help many more to defy the odds just as she did.

The purple walk offers that platform for learning more about epilepsy , uncovering the truths and debunking the myths that are associated with it. This year’s theme is ‘so they never have a seizure again’ with the Minister of Health Hon Dr. Edwin Dikoloti as the chief walker. The 10 KM walk will start at The Grand Palm Resort with a health break at Railpark Mall and the commemoration will be held at The Grand Palm Marquee.

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