On October 7th, 2023, after the heavy evening rain, environmental advocate Jonathan Olakunle, also known as the Nigerian Spiderman, was passing by Agunbelewo Street in Osogbo, Osun, when he spotted a person lying on the road, appearing battered.
“I was surprised to find myself in that state. Erosion water was passing by her side. I couldn’t move, so I decided to take action. The rain had been falling on her body for days. I learned that she is mentally ill,” Jonathan said.
Found in the dirt, the mentally ill woman nicknamed Iya Kaola looked lifeless. The neighbours confirmed that she has been residing in Osogbo for more than three years.
According to the President of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Taiwo Obindo, mental healthcare is in a sorry state, considering that more than 60 million Nigerians suffer from various mental illnesses.
Mental health disease is one of the visible social and health issues, as an unfortunate percentage of them sleep and live on the streets. They are usually found in rural areas or undeveloped parts of urban cities, like in the case of Iya Kaola.
Sadly, in a 2018 workshop, Dr Aliyu Abubakar of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, revealed that a recent study says that 85% of mentally ill people in Nigeria are youths within the age bracket of 18-38 years.
With the help of three good samaritans, he decided not just to give her food but also to help her take a hot bath after lifting her from the roadside.
After posting this encounter on Twitter, he was able to receive cash gifts that were used for the medical bills of Iya Kola.
Jonathan said, “So I took her to a medical centre where I paid the deposit of forty-eight thousand (N48,000) to start treatment at ELAPOP rehabilitation centre in Osogbo, which is like a psychiatric home. She is living there now”.
After a few days, Iya Kaola started speaking and said that she is from Ilorin, Kwara State, where Jonathan is currently working on how to locate her relatives.
However, Jonathan has been grappling with financial challenges to provide medical assistance for Iya Kaola.
“The hospital is charging me seven hundred and fifty thousand naira (#750,000) for her bills, as she has been admitted for more than 50 days at the psychiatric home. However, I have only paid one hundred and fifty thousand naira (#150,000)”, he said.
Now, Jonathan, the Spiderman, is hoping to raise funds from other good citizens in the nation, but before that, he ensures that she eats three square meals every day.