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About Being a Father

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Becoming a father is a significant part of the human journey, marked by the transition from childhood to adulthood, finding a partner, and embracing the joys and challenges of parenthood. Fatherhood demands unwavering commitment and responsibility, encompassing mental, physical, and emotional support for your child. It is a role that requires dedication, love, and sacrifice.

Reflecting on my own childhood, I remember my father’s constant presence despite being one of many siblings. His dedication was evident from the first day he took me to school, holding my hand and making me feel safe and secure in the vast world. These memories highlight the profound impact a father’s presence can have on a child’s sense of security and confidence.

However, fatherhood also brings its share of heartache, especially when facing the challenges of a child with a chronic illness like sickle cell disease. My father experienced the anguish of helplessness, unable to alleviate my pain during inexplicable bouts of suffering. His countless hours spent in hospitals, wishing he could take away my pain or find a cure, exemplify the deep emotional burden carried by parents of children with sickle cell disease.

Despite these challenges, my father’s dedication to my academic growth was unwavering. As a teacher, he immersed me in a world of books and learning, fostering my intellectual development. Though our physical bonding was limited, his influence was profound in shaping my love for knowledge.

When I became a father in a foreign country, the dynamics of parenting shifted. My experiences with my son differed from my own childhood. Engaging in activities like horseplay, which my father never understood, became a way for me to connect with my child. Although I didn’t always enjoy outdoor activities, I made sure to be present and supportive in ways that mattered to my son.

Living with sickle cell disease adds another layer of complexity to fatherhood. Many patients are hesitant to become fathers due to the stigma and

fear of passing the disease to their children. They often choose to be father figures to others’ children instead. I was fortunate to receive guidance from my doctor, Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu at a young age, advising me to be upfront about my condition with any potential partner. This honesty and courage helped me navigate relationships and ultimately embrace fatherhood.

Fatherhood for someone with sickle cell disease requires extraordinary strength and resilience. The challenges of managing a chronic illness while being a supportive, active parent can be daunting. Yet, the joy and fulfillment that come with being a father make the journey worthwhile. Your wife and children will understand your condition and learn to care for you just as you care for them.

Happy Father’s Day to all the courageous fathers out there, especially those living with sickle cell disease.

Ade Sawyerr

Vice-Chairman

Global Alliance of Sickle Cell Disease Organisations

16th June 2024

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The Matters Arising blog is a collection of thought-provoking, thought-leadership pieces sprinkled with some blue-sky thinking on pertinent issues affecting African communities both in the diaspora and at home. It includes articles on culture, politics, social and economic advancement, diversity and inclusion, community cohesion topics. It is also a repository of the political history of Ghana, traditions of the Gadagme people of Ghana, and the Pan-African politics of Kwame Nkrumah. Read, enjoy, like, share, and join!

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