Making a Difference in Eruobodo; A Medical Outreach
May 21, 2019
Life is beautiful! It should be cherished, nurtured and loved. The greatest type of love is the selfless kind – knowing that the recipient may not be able to reciprocate in the same measure. I got to experience that in Ijebu-Ode, where Making a difference in Eruobodo was a reality!
Whilst making a New Year plan (not resolution, we have evolved); I promised myself that volunteering and making new friends should be a top priority. Who knew that I would find both in CHSS.
Community Health Support Scheme provides quality outreach services to strengthen and improve health – related services for babies,children and women. Our first outreach was at Makoko community, the floating slum, earlier in the year of which I was unable to attend.
This one, I refused to be shown pictures and told of its success. I needed to experience this; see the smiles of people whom we are providing these checks to and have conversations with them.
Making a Difference in Eruobodo (M.A.D.E.) came as a result of the 50th birthday celebration of Mrs Vickie, the mother of the founder of Community Health Support Scheme, Lauretta. The vision was to provide routine health checks, physiotherapy and dental health checks to the children who stayed in Eruobodo.
Spotlight on Eruobodo
It is a home for children with special needs located in Idomila,Ijebu-Ode, Ogun state (South Western Nigeria). The children predominately have medical conditions ranging from Down’s Syndrome, Hydrocephalus, Cerebral Palsy, Polio and a peculiar one; Anophthalmia (born without eyes). It is run privately and the children are either abandoned by relatives or gotten from state-owned government organisations. There are about 35 children; some attend school while others cannot because of certain learning disabilities.
One challenge ensued though. My home is far from civilisation, in fact it is in the out lands (an inside joke with a good friend). I was worried that the 7am time would be too early for me to make it to Yaba – our meeting point. Luckily, the generosity of (add family) covered that problem as accommodation was provided for members of the health community who stayed far. I was elated at that offer with the additional bonus of a pool party.
Party + Sleepover + Swimming, my mind was there; it just remained my body. I was actually the first to arrive (no African time here ). I had been wishing to have a sleepover for a while and form new bonds with members of the health community other than the Whatsapp bond.
You should know though, I am very particular on physical contact and verbal communication. Another excitement for me was that I got to meet Lauretta whom I “know” (it is amazing how insta-stories make you feel like you know someone) and my Nwanne, Desire. Desire is one of those amazing people to have in your life and I am glad that she’s in mine.
The night before…
When everyone had shown up for the sleepover, we had to arrange all the donated items inside the truck. Lauretta had made mention of how much the items were, I kid you not; they were plenty and so thoughtful. The benefactors went above and beyond for these children: detergent, food items, diapers, stationary, toiletries, disinfectant, even insecticide.
I was amazed and said a silent prayer for all those who donated.
There was no way we could fit all the items into the truck, so we were asked to take stock and stack them neatly. During the arrangement, my body decided it was time for a headache to manifest. The sadness in me could not be quantified. It was affecting my vision and I felt nauseous.
That’s how I went to sleep while others had the time of their lives. By 1am, the sleepover party had come in for bed. Well, we didn’t sleep until 3am because we had to gist, play games and disturb the older adults in the house.
We left for Ijebu-Ode by 7:30am. More volunteers showed up and we had our own convoy – two coaster buses, a truck and private vehicles. The journey took us approximately 2 hours to get to Eruobodo house of which all of us slept as we didn’t get enough rest the previous night.
On arrival, we were welcomed warmly by the members of staff – about 8 of them. The adults who accompanied us went to the new site to commission the bore-hole water system that had been built while CHSS set up tables for the outreach.
We had a table set up for routine checks such as blood pressure, weight and height. Another for the dental team, a third one for the malaria screening and a fourth for the physiotherapists.
As soon as the adults came back from commissioning the project, the party began. We had our own live band which was essentially a one-man band. He could sing as well as beat the drums. He was a blind man and skilled with his hands. We later got to see his craft; he makes lovely baskets using straw. I forgot to take pictures of them.
Speeches were made by the celebrant as well as the matron of the home. She discussed the costs of running the home and how it truly affects their lives. I could see that. They have only 8 people tending to 35 individuals of varying needs. Only selfless people can give that type of love to these children; handling their breakdowns and yours cannot possible be easy.
I doff my hat for them!
On the children…
We got lo listen to the stories of the children. The matron spoke for most of them as they also have speech disabilities whilst the ones who could speak introduced themselves.
Two young adults introduced themselves. The girl had finished school and was working for a film production company while the boy was in his third year in the university. They both got applause for this incredible feats.
We met Pelumi*, who has hydrocephalus (fluids accumulated in the brain) is due for surgery. He has speech and other impairments. Kofo* has Down’s Syndrome. Despite her defect, she takes care of the younger children in the home; gets them ready for school, cleans the house and helps with errands. Charles* 35,was born with Cerebral Palsy. He doesn’t go to school but, they teach him at home. Wura* was born with Anophthalmia and malformed skull.Hence her inability to stand unaided. Jumoke* looked like a 5 year-old but she was really 13. Her defects had limited her growth and she is also immobile.
The matron also gave instances of children brought in by other organisations that were in vegetative state. Through unending love, care and attention, these children are surviving, beautifully at that. She even showed us one of the boys whom she calls her “boyfriend” because of is protective nature.
What is a party without Jollof rice…
After the speeches, both cash and item donations were given. We finally got around to the best part of every party… Jollof rice! After that, the next best part… Dance! Dance!! Dance!!!
I can’t recall what time we left, but our hearts were filled. The joy on the faces of the children was brazenly emanating, there happiness was infectious and we felt proud with ourselves.We were exhausted, happily exhausted that most slept off on the journey home but, not my corner. My new friends and I decided to talk about Nigeria. That is not a conversation worth sharing as it would only being a sour taste to this joyful outreach.
Eruobodo was both an emotional and daring experience for me. These children who had limitations from birth dared to be extra. They must have faced death squarely and still chose Life. It just cements the famous quote, “Where there is Life, there is Hope!”
To CHSS Tribe, thank you for your selflessness! Making a Difference in Eruobodo was a success because of your love for humanity.
My heart would be immensely grateful if you follow Community Health Support Scheme on Instagram; even if you cannot give financial support, your kind words would go a long way to support our cause for universal healthcare for humanity.
(*) :pseudo-names were used to protect the identity of the children.