An interview with Iahnijah and Queentite of Prosthetics for Foreign Donation Inc. (PFFD Inc.)
Interview by Savannah Clarke
Above image: PFFD inc. logo
I caught up with the mother and child duo, QueenTite and Iahnijah, to hear more about the work that they’re doing to advocate and support children living with various disabilities, as well as to hear more about what parents and community members can do to support children with disabilities in their lives.
PFFD stands for Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency, a deficiency experienced at birth affecting the hip bone and proximal femur. Iahnijah was born with PFFD and receives prosthetic legs.
Through Iahnijah and QueenTite’s experiences, they were inspired to use the same acronym to start Prosthetics For Foreign Donations Inc., an organization that donates gently used prosthetics and other mobility aids to children in re-developing countries. PFFD Inc. aims to provide equal access to opportunities that contribute to the better well being and the betterment of the community
Savannah: Can you two introduce yourself?
Iahnijah: I am Iahnijah the co- Founder of PFFD – otherwise known as Prosthetics For Foreign Donation Inc. I am an 8 year-old below-knee amputee and in 3rd grade French immersion. I am a Freedom Fighter with Black Lives Matter Toronto, and an avid gamer. I just started my own YouTube page ‘XxATLASBOYxX’, follow me.
Queen: I am QueenTite Opaleke the proud mother of Iahnijah and a Winnipeg-born, west coast grown, Toronto-based multidisciplinary queer artist. I am a Nigerian/Jamaican Hybrid of the African Diaspora with roots laid in activism, the arts, academics, entrepreneurship, advocacy, love and in constant pursuit of more love.
I am a licensed hair artist and owner of NATTY- hair•art•roots, graduate of the Disability Studies Program, ASL 103 certified, and passionately the co-Founding Director of PFFD – Prosthetics For Foreign Donation Inc. When not busy changing the world, you can find me painting, writing, speaking and performing spoken word at various black collectives around the country. As a member of Black Lives Matter Toronto I continue to use my voice to advocate for black love, black liberation, people living with various disabilities, human rights, and promote love. Always love.
Savannah: Tell us more about PFFD inc. and how it got started?
Queen: Prosthetics For Foreign Donation Inc. facilitates mobility by creating access to recycled/repurposed prosthetics and mobility aides and donating them to redeveloping countries in critical need.
On October 2nd, 2008, Iahnijah Opaleke was born with a rare deficiency called PFFD- Proximal femoral focal deficiency (Now renamed CFD – congenital femoral deficiency). This deficiency causes Iahnijah to wear a step-in prosthesis on his right leg. I desired to recycle/donate his very gently used limbs (as he gets a new leg every six to nine months), but could not find a Canadian resource to do so. So Iahnijah and I created the resource to fill that void. Iahnijah is the seed of inspiration planted, which has created roots. These roots are the foundation of PFFD Inc.. Through Iahnijah’s birth and the birth of this charity, we hope to raise amputee awareness about prosthetics, mobility, limb loss, recycling, and major global change.
Upon a destined flight to New York, I met a director of a clinic that revolutionized prosthetics in India. When Iahnijah took his ‘leg’ (limb) off, a man leaned toward me and whispered, “this is destiny my dear”. Over the next three hour flight, he poured knowledge into me about his country’s most marginalized. We, in that moment decided to change the way North America saw mobility. It all started with Iah being comfortable being himself.
Later that fall, we travelled to Jamaica for vacation. This relaxation trip came right before Iahnijah’s sixth surgery (reconstructive hip surgery). We decided to just live, laugh, and enjoy life, as we forgot about the present struggle we were about to face. Iahnijah & I went to a local market in Browns Town. Here we met a man, a double leg amputee gladly using a skateboard for mobility. My son was deeply bothered by this. He offered the man his old prosthetics on the spot. In that moment, PFFD Inc. was born. Iah showed me how to repurpose prosthetics, so every Amputee could be recycling their old limbs. This was the definitive moment in time that shifted our entire lives, in the direction of our destiny.
Savannah: The work you two are doing with PFFD inc. is very essential. How does your work you center justice?
Iahnijah: We bring justice to people without prosthetics, mobility, or help. When we help them, they get justice.
Queen: There is an injustice in living without the privilege of mobility. It’s a blessing most of us take for granted. The gift of mobility comes wrapped with independence, and a renewed sense of dignity. This is the gift that we give.
There is a soulful justice that we are able to renew. Our aim to make a major impact upon the face of Mobility in order to see all individuals treated equally. Those born with missing limbs, or those who lose limbs still have every right to achieve their dreams, or even the ability to dream. This is how we center ourselves in justice for people living with physical disabilities
Savannah: What can other organizations and community members do to center justice in their work?
Iahnijah: People forget to think about others. We need to think about what we can reuse, give away, share, instead of just ourselves.
Queen: It is important to listen to the community. At PFFD we listen to the stories of people struggling in redeveloping countries. Fellow community members need to remember that we are blessed, privileged, and better off than most.
Think about what we can give. And when you have no more to give, give even more.
Savannah: From your experience working within disability justice why do you think services such as these are overlooked?
Queen: There is so much red tape and paperwork involved in sharing used medical/mobility equipment.
We feel this service to the community, and the environment is overlooked because it doesn’t affect them. We have equal access to any services we need – we forget our garbage is another man’s treasure.
The medical field is busy taking the best care of everyone as they can. I feel services like repurposing prosthetics/mobility aides gets overlooked because parents and amputees have never had the option.
It is a possibility that most people don’t know this exists. That is why PFFD Inc. stays advocating and educating the community about this imperative need.
Savannah: What advice do you have for parents of children who have disabilities in supporting and empowering their children to be leaders? What does that look like day-to-day?
Iahnijah: Always be different.
Queen: See your children as whole. Never ever try to make them fit in, or succumb to mediocrity. They are born different. They are born with such a magnificence. It is important to encourage their unique presence and celebrate it. They were chosen, to experience life through another view. This in itself is special, amazing, and miraculous. Life is hard, in general. This struggle builds strength, character and experience. It cannot be avoided. Do not shelter them, as they are born warriors. Stronger than most of us. Sweeter than most deserve. They are gifts. Divine gifts. Appreciate that!
Savannah: Iahnijah, as the co-founder of PFFD inc. where do you see the future of the project?
Iahnijah: I see us taking prosthetics from Winnipeg to all around the world to Africa, giving wheelchairs to kids with no legs, and giving prosthetics to kids with no arms. I see helping people who have no help, all the time
Savannah: Where can our readers go to support PFFD inc?
Queen: You can support PFFD Inc. by:
- Donating monetarily at any Assiniboine Credit Union
- Donating to our Gofundme at www.gofundme.com/MobilityMovement
- Contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Recycling your used prosthetics/mobility aids (crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.)
- Like us on FB at FB.com/PFFD Inc and follow us on IG and Snapchat at pffdinc
- Share our story, and join the mobility movement.
I’m a winnipeg born, west coast grown, toronto based multidisciplinary artist. I AM; a black, proud, queer, Hybrid. My roots are laid in art, activism, education, black liberation, poetry, love, and in constant pursuit of more love. When I’m not busy changing the world, you can find me devoted to my personal projects which include; Co – Founding Prosthetics For Foreign Donation & owning Black Heir.
Snapchat: @missqueentite and Instagram
I am the co-Founder of PFFD, otherwise known as Prosthetics For Foreign Donation Inc. I’m an 8 year-old below knee amputee and in 3rd grade French immersion. I am a Freedom Fighter with Black Lives Matter Toronto, and an avid gamer. I just started my own YouTube page ‘XxATLASBOYxX’, follow me