Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Insights from Nigeria : Health and Heights

Kwaku took part on Ripples Foundation's projects in Nigeria during 2 months and he is about to finish his trip as an intern on the 5th of August. Read more about his fascinating experience in Ogidi below.

" One key objective of our internship in Nigeria was to join and participate in Ripples foundation’s medical MOT (outreach) program in Ogidi, a village in the Kogi state of Nigeria. I was particularly struck by the friendliness and warm hospitality that was extended to us by the people of Ogidi upon our arrival. Known for its famous igneous rock mountains, a traditional art industry and a deep tradition of self-reliance, I was anxious to have an experience of a lifetime in Ogidi.
The Medical MOT was very successful with almost the entire village people coming for free medical consultation and treatment-including the very old and young. What was even striking was the involvement of the youth mainly as volunteers in helping with organization of the clinic grounds to accommodate all the patients and helping the elderly navigate their way to the prescribers. The mass patronage of the medical MOT signifies how the people of Ogidi value healthcare and are working hard to get the village clinic up and running. Hopefully this happens by the end of the year.
Personally, the highlight of the trip was when I decided to challenge my inner self to climb one of the tallest mountains in Ogidi. I have never been a fan of heights but I wasn’t going to let an opportunity to explore one of the famous tourist attractions in Ogidi pass me by, and was ready to make the most of it. As Mark Twain once said “There is probably no pleasure equal to the pleasure of climbing a dangerous Alp; but it is a pleasure which is confined strictly to people who can find pleasure in it.
Straight from the medical MOT grounds, in my regular jeans, T-shirt and sneakers (no professional mountain-climbing gear) I headed to the foot of the mountain with a group of ‘experienced’ mountain climbers, including my wingman, Dr. Abdurrahman who by the way was also about to do this for the first time-I couldn’t have chosen a better wingman."

" As I stood at the bottom of the mountain looking up, I almost had a change of mind and was contemplating on going back to the guest house to join the rest of the Ripples team for lunch. As I was contemplating chickening out, I heard a voice behind me asked “are you afraid to climb?” – I turn and see a young boy of about 10years with a cheeky smile on his face. The thought quickly disappeared and I mustered courage to climb. I could hardly see any trail but I followed the handful of young climbers up the mountain.

I tried my level-best to keep up with their pace but after about 15 minutes (400steps) I started panting heavily and felt oxygen gradually suck out of my lungs. I therefore decided to stop and take my first unofficial 5-minute break. I drank water to soothe my parched throat and decided to change my tactics, go at my own pace and climb in sets of 50, 100 and 200 steps increasing the number of steps in sequence. I rested for a few minutes after each set. I repeated this until I reached the official rest area of the mountain. I was not sure if the tactics I used was right but I was literally out of breath when I caught up with the rest of the climbing party. I barely had energy to drink water and I had a flashback of our discussion in medical school on how oxygen saturation reduces significantly as you climb a mountain- Now I was experiencing it! The whole time during our climb up, I was behind my wingman, Dr. Abdurrahman, who I must confess for a first timer, showed skill and technique at climbing (maybe it wasn’t his first time.one can never tell) "

" We rested for 15minutes and then navigated the remaining short climb to the summit of the mountain. Upon reaching the peak, all the climbers rejoiced (led by yours sincerely, my exhausted voice). The view was simply amazing! From the peak, I could see the whole of Ogidi village and beyond. I could also see blankets of clouds floating a few hundred meters above the other mountains. Soon it was time to watch the sun set. The view was breathtaking! It was definitely worth the lung and muscle fatigue.
It was then time for my decent down which started with very slow and careful steps partly due to the unbearable cramps in my thighs and legs. I will leave the full story of my decent for the next blog. "

Ripples foundation Intern (June-August ’16)
MPH candidate ‘17
Washington University in St. Louis
Ripples Foundation Web Developer

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