Bukola Olalere Impact Story (Nigeria)

“We screened [SIMA Academy film] JUANITA to Leprosy patients who were well enough to attend. It was a great event particularly because we had the opportunity to meet newly admitted leprosy patients, as the ones we visited before had been discharged. We motivated the patients using the example of JUANITA’s life, who saw a need in her community and used what limited means she had to provide a solution. There were farmers, students and artisans among the leprosy patients and we encouraged them not to allow their health condition to limit them. Our panel discussion was about how we can be better ambassadors to educate people in our local community about this disease.”

— Bukola Olalere

Bukola Olalere is a local Changemaker and Ambassador for World Merit Nigeria. Her audience included a group of Leprosy patients and the staff at the Tb Leprosy Center in Alushi, Keffi, Nigeria. For the SIMA SDG Challenge, Bukola Olalere chose to screen the film JUANITA which follows a midwife in Mexico who has dedicated her life to helping others with her gift for healing. Through the film, she encouraged the audience to connect with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Number 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Why did you choose the SIMA Academy film JUANITA?

For me, it was the best choice to motivate and inspire my audience and also I wanted a film relevant to the SDG that is most relevant to the audience, which was SDG 3 “Good health and Wellbeing”.

How did the screening meet your objectives for the overall event?

The film gave the people living with Leprosy hope and for my team and I, we were glad we choose Juanita because our overall objective working with the leprosy centre is to show them that despite their condition, they can still live a happy and satisfying life, and that World Merit Nigeria are with them every step of the way.

Can you tell us if and how this event changed the audience’s awareness of the subject matter?

Juanita’s life was very inspirational. She took up a role that was quite daunting in order to offer a solution in her community. We hoped the screening gave inspiration to people living with leprosy to have the courage, like Junita, to educate their community about leprosy and also encourage them to never give up and not allow stigmatization and discrimination to weigh them down.

How many audience members signed up for another similar event?

At the end of the screening and panel discussion, one of the people with leprosy spoke on behalf of the group, expressing that they want us to revisit them. He spoke about how he lost all hope when he was diagnosed with leprosy but after learning of Jaunita’s life and our discussion session, he has been given hope and wants us to come and screen the movie to others. 

Did the event inspire a campaign and/or new relationships between panelists, audience members or Organizations?

Following the screening, we developed a new relationship between the panelist and audience members and collectively we agreed to visit the people living with leprosy more often. A man that works as an electrical artisan shared how he too, had lost hope and desires in life but Juanita’s life and the discussion session has inspired him and he is ready to live his life and become an advocate in his community.

Please share a memorable moment during your event.

During the discussion session a woman asked how she could ‘go about life’ and she wanted to start a food business but she feared people would never buy from her because she had leprosy. Our panelist gave her a very inspiring answer and was told to use this barrier as a means to create a campaign in her community about people living with leprosy that her local government area will become aware of. The panelist acknowledged that people may not buy food directly from her but she could perhaps employ someone to help her cook while she operates the ‘business’ side of things. Doing both these things together, the panelist suggested, would slowly help stigmatization to fade away.