I left from Loma Linda on June 12, and traveled to Nigeria with a large group of students and faculty from LLU. Our team consisted of team leaders, doctors, dentists, nurses, a veterinarian, public health professionals and students, a physical therapist, occupational therapist, pharmacy students, behavioral health students, etc. We flew through London, and then landed in Abuja, Nigeria. Once we arrived at our location, we were split up into 3 teams, to run medical clinics at each of them. I was part of a team located at Jengre Adventist Hospital.
I really enjoyed the location. Jengre was a nice area. It was beautiful, and the people were very friendly. When I walked through the wards of the hospital it felt just like being in Béré.
My primary object for the medical clinic was organizing registration and keeping things moving. Each day we had very large crowds of people wanting to be seen by the doctor. Sometimes it was difficult to keep things moving smoothly without interruptions. Anytime I walked through the crowd to get something or talk to someone, people would pull me aside. Every person had a story. And every person seemed to need to see the doctor. For some it was their mother, or their baby, or their wife, or their blind grandfather. Everyone seemed to have a real reason and a real need of some sort. This was very overwhelming, as on our second day, roughly 2500 people came, wanting to see the doctor. On that day we saw less than 200. At the end of the day as one man was telling me his story, I had to explain to him that it really wasn’t possible for us to see him that day…because there were literally 2000 people in line in front of him. But I hated telling him that. Because the fact that there were lots of other people with needs didn’t make his needs any less valid.
I have a very hard time turning people away. Especially when they tell me a story and explain to me why they need what they’re asking for. I want to help everyone, and solve all of their problems. So I had to learn to avoid walking through the crowd as much as possible, because it was just too hard to listen to people and then tell them that I couldn’t help them; that maybe we could see them on another day, but I couldn’t even promise that.
Towards the end of the week, a teenage girl tried to pull me aside. I was really hesitant to follow her, because I knew that we couldn’t add any more new patients for the day, and I didn’t want to hear another sad story and say “Sorry, maybe tomorrow.” But I did follow her. She pulled me away from the crowd, and asked me my name. Then she asked me where she was from, and if we could be friends. And that was all she wanted. She just wanted to say hi, and become friends. It was a good reminder that sometimes even a few words can make someone’s day better. Even if I can’t squeeze them in to see the doctor.
In the end, I settled on doing my best to be fair and adhere to first come, first served, but not turn someone away if I would lose sleep over it. So I slipped in the guy with a badly infected dog bite on his foot (and he got surgery to debride it! Hopefully he’s healing nicely), the baby that supposedly hadn’t eaten in a week, the little boy who was sick and basically unresponsive, the guy with mud packed in a wound on his chest, and the guy with something like cellulitis from his shoulder all the way to his fingertips. The girl who was pregnant and bleeding somehow got lost in the crowd…so I hope that someone else got her in.
We can’t fix everyone. But I hope that we helped a few people, and made their future a little brighter.