Friday, December 18, 2015

Medical MOT for the Kano State Orphans

In mid November Ripples travelled back to Kabo, Kano State to revisit the group of 100 orphaned children currently in the care of the Kano State Government. When we first met these young boys back in the summer we vowed to do everything we could to help them, so true to our word, we held a Medical MOT for the group a few weeks ago. We also provided a number of donations of clothing to assist the government in caring for the boys.

The Medical MOT went well and we found that most of the boys were in good health. Many boys simply needed a form of counselling due to the huge amount of trauma they have gone through in their short lives. These boys were orphaned due to the violence currently escalating in Northern Nigeria by extremist group Boko Haram and have seen things that no-one should ever have to see, let alone children.

The young boy pictured below was the most distressing case we saw that day. He was shot through the mouth by Boko Haram terrorists and now has trouble speaking due to the complications from that horrific injury. Ripples CEO Anne Phillips describes him as being very withdrawn and noted that she could see the anger in his eyes when speaking with him. We would love to be able to help this boy smile again. He desperately needs expert medical help in the form of surgery to correct this problem, so if you know of anyone who could be of assistance in getting this boy the treatment that he deserves, please let us know in the comments below.

As well as holding a Medical MOT, our team also distributed donations of clothing and sports equipment to the children to aid the Kano State Government in caring for them. Most of their clothes are standard shirts and trousers given to them by the government so it was nice to see them given some new t-shirts to wear and we hope that they will enjoy them.

We provided the group with sports equipment such as footballs, netball bibs and goalkeeper gloves that they can use to enjoy during their stay. Although these donations do not directly contribute to reducing poverty in the lives of these children, the enjoyment that they will get out of our donations is absolutely worth the trip.

We will be updating you all with the progress of these boys over the coming months as well as connecting with other groups of orphans in the surrounding areas to see what we can do for them also. It is truly heartbreaking seeing what the violence that has forced its way into their communities has done to these children, and we can only hope that we can help them enjoy the reminder of their childhoods in peace.

To donate to a Medical MOT and make change happen in communities such as Kabo, please visit 

Thank you.

Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Another milestone reached! Thanks to everyone who has read our posts so far, we hope to keep publishing interesting stories from our work on the ground in Africa for you all to enjoy.
Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Living With Terrorism: Kano

Peace is a fundamental human right. Over the past 4 years, the once peaceful state of Kano, Nigeria has been ravaged by terrorist attacks from Boko Haram. The local media will report these attacks, the international media will mention the attack in passing, pictures of the devastation are posted all over the social media, not mindful of how the affected people must pick up their lives after the dust has settled.

Each time there's an attack, it is a period of chaos, mayhem, blood and death. Healthcare workers work overtime to bring succour to the affected. When the attack happens, messages are sent by various regulatory bodies and unions to mobilise doctors and health workers to provide the manpower in this time of crisis. As news of the attack spreads, the town people also respond through donations which include blood, medication, food and clothing.

Although, as Health Providers, we cannot allow sentiments to hinder us from doing our jobs, there are incidences that are permanently seared in our minds, One of such is the story of a young girl who came to see me in the Surgical outpatient clinic. She was a student at Federal College of Education, Kano. She was in such a hurry to get back to class that she forgot some of her tests. I decided to call her after the clinic. By then news had reached us that Boko Haram had attacked the school. I kept calling her but couldn't reach her. As the victims started arriving at the hospital I saw a friend of hers that was with her at the clinic. She told me that she was shot at the gate and that she died immediately. I also remember a set of twin baby girls that were also shot dead together with their mother who was also a student. Another mind-numbing story was that of a young pregnant woman that was shot through the abdomen immediately killing her unborn baby. The mother was rushed into surgery and her father was asked to donate his blood as she had lost a lot of blood. What the father said, I'll remember until the day I die. He said, "I'll donate the blood, but give it to someone else who has a chance, my daughter will not survive." The surgery was successful, but as if the father had a premonition, she passed away around 3am that night.

Another gut clenching experience we had was with the dead bodies. Our mortuary doesn't have the capacity to handle such a magnitude of human remains, so the remains have to be piled up one on top of another. Most of them were in pieces. There was blood everywhere; I had nightmares for months. As if all this wasn't enough, the two major hospitals that handle these victims were targeted by suicide bombers. Luckily their attempts were thwarted and they were not able to detonate the bombs.

The worst attack we had in Kano so far was the attack on the Central mosque. Being a Friday, thousands of people went to the mosque for Friday prayers. Because of its close proximity to the hospital, a lot of our male staff were at the mosque that day. Thankfully none of them were killed and only a few sustained minor injuries. Immediately after the attack the doctors didn't have time to catch their breaths, they started instituting life saving techniques to the injured victims. One doctors described the incidence as "like a war zone." The carnage that day was unimaginable. It was as if we were in a horror movie. The entire ordeal wasn't for the faint of heart. Most of the victims were little boys and girls. I was working at the pediatric surgical ward, the ward was full. One of the little ones that touched my life was a 2 year old, who witnessed the death of his two older brothers. He sustained first degree burns to the abdomen and lower limbs. I can't imagine the despair of his mother as she had two sons on admission and two dead. His recollection of the incidence will make your skin crawl. To hear of the ordeal from the perspective of a 2 year old will make you shed tears.

When we went to pay our condolences to the families of the victims, we visited more than thirty houses before giving up. Even the gravediggers were overworked and tired. For almost every house within the vicinity of the mosque lost someone, some more than others. There was a woman who was widowed by the attack and she lost all five of her offspring. She eventually had a stroke and then passed away.

At the end of the day, we retire home with mixed feelings: feelings of joy for the lives we saved, feelings of sadness for the lives we lost, and feelings of doom for what was to come.

This was the attack that was meant to be the end of Kano. But it didn't. The Emir of Kano, His Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II came back immediately from his trip and gave a most invigorating speech to the people of Kano. He said that if the attackers meant to instill fear in us, they have failed. He gave us renewed hope. He led the Magrib prayer in the same mosque on the same day. The following Friday he also led the Friday prayer and the mosque saw an influx of worshippers more than it has ever seen since its construction. The youth were mobilised to give security during prayers.

In the middle of one devastation after another, we were mindful of the plight of our soldier who were at the frontier of these terrorist attacks and were being killed every single day. Most of the teaming populace were were placing the blame on the inexperience of these young officers. Unbeknownst to us, they were also victims of the ineptitude of the immediate past administration. They were sent to battle with insufficient and outdated weapons. Sometimes they even share ammunition. Their allowances were not paid.

On the 9th of February 2015, my family has a rude awakening. Terror has struck home. 31 year old Captian Usman Aliyu fell to the bullets of terrorist while defending Nigeria. Our sense of despair was immutable and it all came as a shock to us because when he was posted to Maidugurihe he didn't have the heart to tell us. He said he had been posted to Gombe. He was the commanding officer on the battlefield that day and they didn't have enough ammunition. None of his other team members made it out that day. He was shot on the head, neck and thigh; all deadly shots meant to kill. Clearly the work of a well-trained sniper.

It's been months now, but the loss is still fresh in our hearts and remains as painful as ever. We'll miss the brother, the son, the man that loved and embraced everyone around him, the man that died fighting for his country, his beliefs and his religion. We'll mourn the man whom we lost so tragically, but we'll remember him as he deserves to be remembered, a hero who lived on the fearless edge of what was possible.

My prayer is that God brings an end to this avalanche of carnage and madness. Prayer is the greatest weapon we have.

*Dr Maryam Nasir Aliyu is currently volunteering with Ripples Foundation and using her medical experience to help us deliver Medical MOT events to communities in Kano State. One such event included treating young boys who were orphaned by Boko Haram's violence, as seen in the photos featured here. We would like to take this time to thank Dr Maryam for the invaluable help she has provided and for sharing her deeply emotional story here with us.
Dr Maryam Nasir Aliyu Web Developer

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Our Favourite Christmas Facts From Around The World

Christmas is celebrated in countries all over the world, but we each have our own quirky traditions that make our celebrations unique. Here are a few of our favourites!

1. Canada

Canada Post recognises the address: Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, HOHOHO. Any letters sent to this address are opened and replied to!

2. UK

Many cultures use Christmas as a time to really make an effort with their clothing and appearance when attending formal Christmas occasions with work colleagues, friends or family. However in the UK it has become tradition to wear a 'Christmas jumper', where you wear the silliest jumper you can find - often complete with flashing reindeer antlers or 3D snowman noses! There are even competitions in workplaces across the country to find who has the best jumper!

3. South Africa

On Christmas Day some South Africans will tuck into a festive delicacy, the deep-fried caterpillars of the Emperor Moth...

4. Ghana

After church on Christmas Eve, joyful processions form and ramble through the streets led by bands of musicians. Children dash about singing "Egbona hee, egogo vo!" - "Christ is coming, he is near!"

5. Iceland

Children in Iceland leave their shoes on their window sill for the 13 nights before Christmas Eve. This is because for the 13 nights before Christmas they will be visited by one of Iceland's 13 Santas - the Yule Lads. If the children have been good, they may be left a small treat, a sweet or a chocolate - but if they are bad, they will be left a raw potato in their shoe!

6. Japan

Japan doesn't officially celebrate Christmas, as only 1% of its population is Christian, but it has become a tradition to have a meal from fast food chain KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) at Christmas... the demand is so high that you often have to book your table weeks in advance!

If you know of any more unusual traditions that we haven't mentioned, comment below! 

Alysha Bennett Web Developer

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