WHEN YOU’VE LOST five children, suffered painful medical negligence, survived strangling by a man you tried to help, had a hip-replacement operation before middle age, been diagnosed with both disabling osteoarthritis and a frightening condition called pre-eclampsia and your eventual successful pregnancy is followed by depression, what do you do? Oh, and in your home country you might also be called a witch because you are not a successful child-bearer.
If you are Yassin Jeng, of Stratford, London E20, you take the money you won in damages for a suture left in your body after an operation and you campaign to boost awareness of pre-eclampsia and osteoarthritis.
The courageous and articulate single mother told Loving Dalston: “With all the pain I still have and all the clinics I have to visit, and the medication, the sleepless nights, I was advised [by one of her helpers] to repay the help I have had from the British people by doing some charity work.”
An expert in pre-eclampsia, a condition that involves a complication of pregnancy and can be deadly, the consultant obstetrician was hugely instrumental in her daughter’s entry into the world.
Originally from the Gambia in west Africa, Yassin Jeng was given permission for her charity, when she registered it, to operate in Britain and in the small West African country.
She had earlier been given indefinite leave to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds and when she went back to Banjul, the capital, she was shocked to learn that in Africa victims of pre-eclampsia were demonised as witches. Jeng adds: “Some were effectively killed, even by their husbands, through mental torture. Such primitive beliefs.”
So she made contact with Gambian politicians and prominent Africans such as singer Youssou N’Dour for help with her cause.
Back in London, she opened a charity shop in humble Kingsland Road, Dalston premises she rented for as long as her charity could afford them. She hopes to find new premises, either free or at a charity-suitable rental.
Jeng is a fighter, perhaps because of the misfortunes that have knocked her down. “As a child in the Gambia,” she says, “I suffered a medical negligence when I was nine and was told I wouldn’t walk.” A bone infection led to osteoarthritis. “I refused to accept that and like a baby does I found a way of walking.”
She still walks with a stick.
Jeng has commissioned a film to publicise the problems that arise from pre-eclampsia — which globally is said on average to kill one woman every six minutes — and hopes that when completed a mainstream British TV channel will screen it.
She says: “My aim is to promote pre-eclampsia awareness, and to look for broadcasters and producers, who can use screens to make people aware of another side of the condition, that it is psychologically, emotionally and mentally painful for its victims.”
Her efforts deserve no less.
David Altheer 280819
* For details of the pre-eclampsia campaign, or to help with it, contact Yassin Jeng via this Facebook link
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