Safe Haven – A Ray of Hope
1761. Blessing Olalemi
Blessing Olalemi, from Newcastle, founded ‘Safe Haven - A Ray of Hope’ after her daughter, Valerie, was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder chronic granulomatous and lost her life in April 2020 aged eight.
Blessing’s younger daughter, Praise, is now also facing the same illness but has undergone a stem cell transplant and faring well. Following these experiences, Blessing created ‘Safe Haven’ to encourage more people from BAME backgrounds to come forward as stem cell donors, particularly as people from ethnic minority backgrounds currently only have an approximately one in five chance of finding a matching donor. The organisation also serves to provide financial, educational, and psychological support to underprivileged children and children living with disabilities.
In a personal letter to Blessing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I wanted to write and thank you for the extraordinary courage you have shown in founding ‘Safe Haven – A Blessing of Hope’. The loss of your daughter, Valerie, is an utter tragedy which makes the work you do even more inspiring.
“By campaigning for stem cell donors from BAME backgrounds to come forward and support treatment, you are raising awareness of rare blood disorders and helping to save lives.”
“The entire ‘Safe Haven -A Ray of Hope’ team wishes to express its gratitude to the office of the Prime Minister, and all Members of Parliament for being selected as a recipient of the Points of Light award. We are indeed humbled by this recognition.
“This award motivates us to remain committed till we can achieve bridging the existing gap for BAME who constitute only 23% of the more than 39 million donors on the registry.
“We will relentlessly continue to knock on the doors of many more underprivileged children and those with disabilities waiting for us.”