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Shedding Light on Minds: A Journey of Triumph over Dyslexia

In the bustling world of entrepreneurship, literature, and advocacy, one individual’s story shines brightly: Petronila Asang Ngeka. Hailing from Cameroon and now a proud resident of the UK, she embodies resilience, innovation, and compassion. As the CEO of a thriving health and social care agency, she not only leads with expertise but also serves as a beacon of hope for those grappling with dyslexia, a condition she has conquered. With her unwavering determination and pioneering solutions, she is not just rewriting the narrative on dyslexia but also transforming lives along the way. Join us as we delve into the extraordinary journey of this entrepreneur, author, and authority on dyslexia, whose endeavors are reshaping perceptions and fostering empowerment worldwide.

Can you share a bit about your journey from growing up in Cameroon to becoming a successful entrepreneur and author in the UK?

I struggled to meet the grades required for university in Cameroon after completing my A-levels. I transitioned into nursing because school was challenging for me, and I found myself more inclined towards practical work. I came to the UK in 2004 when there was a shortage of healthcare workers to work as a senior healthcare assistant in Cambridgeshire.

What inspired you to start your own health and social care domiciliary/supported living agency?

As a single mother following my failed marriage, I discovered that my child had learning needs. In my journey to find resources to support my son, I found a school for children with dyslexia located in the West Midlands. At this point, I had retrained as a nurse and was working in ICU. However, the schools I found for my son were all private, which meant I had to pay for his education. Consequently, I relocated from Cambridgeshire to Birmingham and started a care business to help finance his private education. It was challenging, but I succeeded, and my son has been attending Bredon School in Gloucester for five years now and has completed his GCSEs.

How has your experience with dyslexia influenced your approach to entrepreneurship and leadership?

I would say being dyslexic was a challenge, but after discovering myself and accepting the daily challenges I faced, I finally gained strength in some abilities as a dyslexic businesswoman and leader today. My dyslexia’s gift is being an overthinker, and I use it to my advantage. I can foresee problems in my business before they occur. I can read people and sometimes anticipate their next move or response, which often impresses the administrators in my office. As someone who has experienced failure many times, I have developed a softer and more compassionate leadership style.

Could you describe some of the challenges you faced due to dyslexia and how you overcame them professionally?

I have been greatly ashamed of my errors as a dyslexic adult. I experience omissions of words when I write, sometimes when I speak, or when I read. Additionally, I struggle to read notes that are written in capital letters. I experience dysgraphia. Spelling poses a significant challenge for me, and letters appear unsteady on a black and white background.

What motivated you to become an authority on dyslexia and advocate for changing beliefs about people with the disorder?

Growing up in Cameroon and attending school there as a dyslexic student, I didn’t understand what my problem was. My knowledge never translated into paper;  Although I excelled in speaking, I was made to feel stupid and unintelligent. Upon returning to university in Cambridge after having my children and receiving a formal diagnosis of dyslexia, I received support and performed well. Reflecting on my journey, I decided to bring hope to the millions of children in Cameroon who are struggling with education, just as I did. I feel compelled to advocate for awareness and to break the stigma attached to learning disabilities in my Afro-Caribbean community, both at home and abroad.

Can you discuss some of the misconceptions or stereotypes surrounding dyslexia that you’ve encountered, and how you’ve worked to challenge them?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was when I encountered Cameroonians in Cameroon who insisted that dyslexia was a made up concept. I had to persuade them otherwise, providing practical examples from my own experiences as well as those of my child. Fortunately, I found that some could relate to the struggles faced by dyslexic individuals, particularly those within their own families or communities.

We often receive complaints from parents who report that their children are being insulted by teachers due to their disabilities, with inadequate support provided. We have decided to take action by organising seminars where teachers are invited to participate. The primary goal of these seminars is to raise awareness and plan training on effectively supporting dyslexic students in the classroom.

The primary target audience of the Cameroon Dyslexia Association is schools. We recognise the critical role that schools play in addressing the needs of dyslexic students, and our efforts are aimed at collaborating with educators to create inclusive learning environments.

How do you incorporate your unique brand and professional solutions into your work with dyslexia and entrepreneurship?

My mission is to serve my community through my care business, Mcare24 Limited, which offers round-the-clock care services. Additionally, I aim to make Passion London lipstick available to women globally as a symbol of resilience. A reminder that wearing lipstick is not just colour but an embodiment of women their strength and beauty in the face of adversity Furthermore, I have been engaged in humanitarian work, feeding 100 women in disadvantaged communities at Christmas for the past five years. I strive to create positive change that transcends geographical boundaries and uplifts people  from all walks of life.

How do you balance being a mother, CEO, and advocate for dyslexia awareness? Do you have any tips for others facing similar challenges?

Waking up and succeeding in business is intrinsic to my role as a mother, as it enables me to provide for my kids. Therefore, maintaining a positive mindset is crucial. I believe in the power of positivity and self-belief; once you embark on a task, trust that God will bring people to support and manifest your vision. It’s important to surround ourselves with positive, like-minded people who can uplift and inspire us.

What advice would you give to individuals with dyslexia who are aspiring entrepreneurs or professionals?

I firmly believe that the failures and challenges stemming from dyslexia can serve as valuable preparation for entrepreneurship. Every setback encountered due to dyslexia should be viewed not as a hindrance, but rather as a stepping stone towards success in the entrepreneurial journey.

In business, setbacks and failures are inevitable, yet they are often the catalysts for growth and innovation. Dyslexia, instills resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills—qualities essential for navigating the unpredictable terrain of entrepreneurship.

Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives you’re working on to further your impact on the dyslexia community?

As the founder of the Cameroon Dyslexia Association, I am thrilled to announce that we will be launching our inaugural magazine in 2024. This magazine will serve as a vital platform for raising awareness about dyslexia, providing valuable resources and support for dyslexic individuals, their families, educators, and the wider community.

I am incredibly proud of this milestone achievement for the Cameroon Dyslexia Association, and I look forward to our magazine’s positive impact on the dyslexia community and beyond.

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