Meet the founders!
We are Mulikat & Fidel !
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Mulikat Okanlawon is a noma advocate and a noma survivor raising awareness at the global level.
In 2022, she co-founded Elysium, the first noma survivors organisation, along with Fidel Strub. Her story has been featured in the award-winning documentaries Restoring Dignity (52 min.) and Surviving noma (4 min.30) and in several major local and international publications. In 2022, her story was highlighted by the World Health Organization as one of the seven people ‘Making a Difference on Health’ in Africa.
Mulikat lives in Sokoto, in the northwest of Nigeria, and works with Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors without borders (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organisation, as hygiene officer.
She survived noma as a child and she first arrived in Sokoto along with her father while seeking medical care in the only hospital of Nigeria focused on treating noma. The tissues of the left part of her face had been destroyed by the initial infection, affecting her mouth and her cheek up to her eye.
As a teenager and young adult, she underwent several reconstructive surgeries in Sokoto and started to accept what happened to her.
In parallel, she learned Hausa language and got her first job at the very hospital before completing a degree in health record management.
Mulikat has dedicated her life to working with other noma survivors and she insists in sharing a message of hope: There is ability in disability, and thanks to more awareness, noma can be eradicated.
Fidel Strub, born in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, is a noma advocate and a noma survivor raising awareness at global level. He is also Boardmember of Noma-Aid-Switzerland in Zürich.
He was adopted in 1998 by Swiss doctors and lives in Switzerland. He founded with Mulikat Okanlawon the first Noma survivor association in 2022.
Fidel Strub’ story was published in several local and international publications like ‘The Guardian’ or ‘Schweizer Illustrierte’.
Thanks to the relentless efforts of his father and grandmother, Fidel survived noma in 1994 thanks to a campaign led by the Swiss organisation Sentinelles. With the help of a doctor in Ouahigouya, north of Burkina Faso, Fidel could be stabilised and later send to Geneva, Switzerland, for reconstruction operation on his face.
The right side of his face was reconstructed and muscle tissues from his back has been used to reconstruct the face.
As a child and teenager, Fidel had a total of 27 operations. It took Fidel years and psychotherapeutic sessions to accept his appearances. Only around 2014 he started to accept that he has to live with it.
Fidel learned watchmaking and finished an additional education in commerce and works currently for Swissmedic in Bern. He is fighting alongside with Mulikat to get more attention to noma and oral health so no other child has to suffer terribly long after having noma.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Claire is passionate about creating content with meaning and depth. She co-founded in 2008 the French multimedia agency Inediz along with Fabrice Catérini. Believing in the power of stories to change the world, she also collaborates with media, international organisations and NGOs. Her main field of interest is social issues, with a focus on refugees, women’s rights and access to healthcare.
Working on this topic since 2016, Claire has co-directed and produced two documentaries about the journey of noma survivors, Restoring Dignity (52 min.) and Surviving noma (4min.30). After leading the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) campaign to raise awareness on this preventable and treatable disease and advance the advocacy agenda, she is involved in the collaborative project ‘The Politics of Disease Framing: Surviving and Overcoming Neglect’ together with other researchers from the Center for Applied Human Rights at the University of York.