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The AFRICAN WOMEN'S HEALTH PROJECT INTERNATIONAL was born out of a passion and spiritual calling that gently kept pulling at the heartstrings of Princess Deun A. Ogunlana, a native of Nigeria, the granddaughter of the (Late) Pa David Ajasa Ogunlana, the Obanikoro of Lagos. Today, it is active in four major American cities and ground works is underway for the launching of a major health-care initiative in 2016.

Founded in 1999 and incorporated in 2003, the mission seeks to improve health care thus the quality of life for women and children in African countries. Where homeland resources fall short, Ogunlana hopes to fill the gap with outside donations of medical services including supplies and equipments.“You have women over there who have had 10 children, yet they don’t know what a pelvic examination is all about. They’ve never had a pap smear,” she says with a sense of urgency. “Seeing the conditions of things and going back into the townships, I knew I had to do something.”

Adequate health care is out of reach of many African families, particularly women and children whose needs are greatest, because of the cost just to see a doctor and the scarcity of health care facilities and physicians, Ogunlana explains. The consequences are a high infant mortality rate, prevalent disease in some area, and a high incidence of preventable deaths. A scarcity of food and proper nutrition compounds the problem, she noted.

 

A businesswoman and Public Information Specialist, Ogunlana has made an impressive niche in the promotion of the culture and customs of Africa. Right after graduating from the University Of Arkansas at Little Rock with a degree in Journalism with emphasis on Public Information, Ogunlana knew she wanted to use her degree to promote and introduce the community and nation to “my Africa,” as she fondly calls it. Immediately she formed the DE African Elegance Fashion Production, and soon followed it with her first retail store location that caters to African fashions for the entire family. Recently, she has made an impressive presence in the wedding attire and wedding planning industry. A fashion designer by trade, she is the wedding coordinator and director of Bridal Blessings, a complete wedding boutique in the University Mall in Little Rock, Arkansas, that offers wedding attire and planning services – African, traditional, and custom-designed. African clothing, accessories, and keepsakes also are among her offerings. Having being brought to America as a teenager by her father, Prince Richard Ogunlana of Chicago, Illinois, and now having been here right at 20 years, she was moved during a visit back to her homeland. She saw economic and living conditions that had changed drastically and not for the better.

“A lot of my motivation was an experience that I had back in 1997 when my grandmother passed away,” Ogunlana shares. “I saw a lot of people living in what we in America would call poverty.” She says she was particularly moved by a nine year-old boy who was trying to get the scraps of food leftover from picnic her family was having on the beach. When she finally met the family, the mother had six other children with her while a one-year old was feeding off one of her breast, the other breast was green and gangrene, and obviously cancerous. It was a sobering experience because of the lack of medical care that was very apparent for her.

“It was a beautiful beach,” and very much in contrast to the plight of the youth. “I knew I had to do something,” she decided at that point. Upon returning back to the States, Ogunlana immediately began connecting with the medical community. Her Brother, Dr. Babajide Ogunlana, a podiatric surgeon in Houston Texas serves on the board as the Medical Director in addition to Dr. Olabode Olumofin, an internal medicine physician.  “Over here, we know that early detection of any disease is best to keep the disease from turning into something worse. Untreated and undetected health problems eventually lead to death,” she notes.

The Women’s Health Project is in Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; and Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas, and its founder is working on establishing base in Atlanta, Georgia. World Health Fairs and other fundraisers have enabled AWHPI to purchase and transport medical supplies and equipments, some of which has gotten to the families in need.

“The focus now is on raising funds to get the much-need resources to Motherland Africa,” Ogunlana says. The big picture for her is a holistic humanitarian effort that would include health clinics, food, clothing, spiritual nourishment, and health and school educational supplies and needs. It’s become a mission and ministry for the woman who once was a little girl who lived in the King’s Palace. “Our goal is to take the medical care to them with doctors, nurses, dentists, opticians, and other medical personnel,” she says. “Right now, I am planning to go to Africa in a couple of months to meet with officials and plan on setting up sites for the Free Clinics. I would like to have month long and two-month long clinics.”

The sequined wedding gowns, gold accessories, art, sculptures, beauty, luxury that are so unique to the Bridal Blessings boutique and the poverty of African women and children make Ogunlana, to some people, a study in contrast. However, she says she is very much the opposite. “My business and my ministry are dedicated to the nurturing of women,” she shares.

She admits that prior to founding the African Women’s Health Project International, she in many ways was the typical entrepreneur and community mover-and-shaker – commissioner with the Little Rock Sister Cities Commission, ambassador for the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, editor of a Christian magazine, advocate for women business owners, a member of the local chapter of NAACP, community leader with the university group, and past president of the Association for Minority Educational Needs and Development at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

She credits the spiritual guidance obtained from her church home for giving her the push to move the project from infancy to outreach. She had already started AWHPI when she began worshiping with the congregation; and the spiritual confirmation has made a big difference, she says. The foundation was finally established as a non-profit corporation in the state of Arkansas in 2003 and registered under the 501(c)3 status of the US Internal Revenue Service.

“Our congregation is a small but powerful and growing ministry,” Ogunlana beams. “I know that my spiritual and business ties will be a plus to the African Women’s Health Project International.”

For Ogunlana, life is busy. She is the mother of three daughters, Lola, Bola, and Shola. She is the owner of a thriving niche industry Bridal Blessings, and the president of DE African Elegance Fashion Production. And, she is making a difference on an international level with the African Women’s Health Project International and the sharing of African culture with people in other countries. “I am showing my Africa to people,” she says of her family and national culture of perseverance, strong and determined work ethics, and success. Most importantly, she’s realizing her two passions: Making women beautiful and keeping them healthy.

For more information or cash donations or medical equipments/supplies donation to AWHPI, call 501-563-8865 or Fax, 501-224-8128. E-mail Princess Ogunlana at: awhpi@yahoo.com Or visit us on the world wide web: www.awhpi.org. Donations of any size are gratefully welcomed. There are several ways to make a donation: CHECKS; CREDIT CARD; MEMORIAL GIFTS; CORPORATE MATCHING GIFTS. All donations are tax-deductible.

All donations are tax-deductible

 







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