Shakira gives Hope to sickle-cell victims

August 08, 2016

Late beauty queen Shakira Martin, the Miss Jamaica Universe 2011, had a passion for working with people who had sickle cell disease, including children and had set up a foundation for the cause just before her death.

And her mother, Andrea Hall, is adamant that the family will continue her work in this regard to fulfil her daughter's last wishes.  

Hall recalled a conversation with Martin, about her work with children who have sickle-cell diseases, which she said will remain on her mind forever.

Martin, she said, on a visit with children in Jamaica who have sickle cell, was inconsolable because of a special encounter. “She said to me ‘Mommy, there is a little girl at the hospital and when I came to the unit the little girl had a picture of me, waiting for me to come. I just start to bawl’,” Hall recounted.

To Martin, who was also a victim of the disease, the five-year old girl in the hospital, realised that she too could achieve great things. “Her life is not just sitting here in pain,” Hall said about her daughter who spent much of her life spreading awareness about sickle cell disease.

The beauty queen died from complications of the disease in a Florida hospital last Tuesday. She was 30.

Hall learned she and her husband were both carriers of sickle anaemia when she was pregnant. She said doctors told her there was a 25 percent chance the baby would be born with the disease. "It was very difficult, it has been such a fight, it has been such a struggle," Hall said about her daughter's fight with sickle-cell disease.

Having won the Miss Universe Jamaica competition in 2011, Martin had set out on a journey to spread awareness about the disease. Hall said that in addition to that mission, her daughter loved living and did so without boundaries. “She said to me last year that she has a lot of plans because she just doesn't think that she has a lot of time left,” the mother said.

She recalled that Beyonce was in South Florida for a concert recently and Martin, a big fan, was in hospital. But with the help of her mother, Martin sneaked out of hospital. “She planned on thiefing out the hospital. I brought clothes in for her and she got dressed and she went to the Beyonce (show),” the mother said.

Before her death, Martin was busy setting up a foundation to help people with sickle-cell disease. She established the Hope Fund in collaboration with the Miami Foundation, and 13 days ago she gathered with close friends and families to work out details about how the foundation would operate. 

"I asked everybody who was there with her when she took her last breath, all I am asking is just let us see this come to pass, especially in Jamaica because that was what was really important to her," the mother said. 

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