Wish for Africa Foundation


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The 4th annual Walk4WISH event 2011- 20/08/2011

This year Walk4WISH was proudly sponsored by ARIK AIR, CANUK & NORDICA and we thank each of them for their support of our work.

After a few grey days we woke to sunshine and made our way to set up at the usual meeting point, Morrisons Thamesmead. 10 o’clock arrived and we were looking a little thin on the ground…African time O, soon the numbers had expanded to around 50! It was great to see many of our loyal supporters, although many had sent apologies of holidays and prior arrangements. It is also really fantastic to see new faces and there were many, thanks to all of you.

Ready to Walk4WISH

It is always good to hear that people have gone that extra mile to join us and Sesan had certainly done that, he travelled over night by car/ferry from the Hague, Holland to be with us, what a show of dedication! Helen had travelled from Heathrow not knowing where Thamesmead was and not knowing anyone, Ann-Marie & Romeo had been handed a flyer the evening before by Femi and decided to join us to see what we were about. Femi also spoke on Naija FM prior to the walk & received a phone call with an offer of photgraphy. Tomi our youngest regular donator asked her mum to change a holiday to the USA so she wouldn’t miss the yearly event. So many people from a variety of areas, social backgrounds, ages, nationalities all joining together for a fun day in aid of a good cause.

The adults walked the 2.5 km all at their own pace, whilst the children rode there bikes and scooters as well as walked, run, skipped and hid. The walk took its usual route along the Thames Path, 2.5km to the half way point. Here we rested and eat a packed lunch, kindly and generously donated by an anonymous well wisher. Sandwiches, crisps, sweets, drinks and fruit were enjoyed by all. We sat and listen to some talks from different friends of WFA about their personal involvements with WFA. The usual photo opportunities were had and everyone chilled and chatted before embarking on the next 2.5km back to Thamesmead.

The sun kept shining until the return leg when it started to rain and by the time we had reached Morrisons we were a little wet to say the least. Still we were not defeated everyone crossed the finish line still smiling and had a warm welcome from Femi. Then we said our goodbyes, gave lifts to stations to those that needed lifts and went home to rest our aching feet.

A huge thank you once again to all those that attended this years Walk4WISH and just to remind you that you can still sponsor any one of us for our efforts. Jo Watts and Femi Olaleye can be contacted for information on how to send your donation. Every amount however small or large can help in our plight to improve healthcare in the deprived areas of Lagos, so please think about it, whether a one off donation of a monthly/yearly payment. It all helps us provide to care we want to be able to give.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

May 1st 2011 - The Wedding day

The day that this whole trip was based upon was finally here, the wedding of Femi and Aderemi. The night had been restless with noise from outside, I got up and sorted myself breakfast, cornflakes with powered milk, as you just don’t really get fresh milk in Lagos (many people haven’t got fridges or reliable electricity to run them).

The house at this point was fairly quiet, Remi was at the venue and Femi was just going to head out to see if all was OK. They came back and the house then had a steady flow of helpers/visitors.

As Remi had started getting ready (African time O! everything was running late), I thought I’d start getting ready. I had just commenced putting my make-up on when my room was commandeered by photographers laying out all the items Remi was going to wear on my bed to photograph (good job I wasn’t half naked!).

I went to the venue ‘Balmoral’ with Waheed (the driver). On arrival we couldn’t get in as we didn’t have ID and we had to insist that we were meant to be there and had loads of items to off load. They reluctantly let us in! Well only into the grounds, the security on the door wouldn’t let us in as they were tidying up after a church service that morning. So we sat and waited, eventually they let us in and I was told where to sit by Waheed, then a member of Femi’s family came over and directed me to the front row next to the them.

Another hour went by and guests kept arriving and the African tribal band began beating their various drums and shaking the shekeres, the sound was contagious and really made you feel the moving to its beat. Some of the women got up and were dancing around the band (I so wanted to join them). The room was now full of women wearing beautiful traditional attire (Aso-Ebi) with some stunning Geles (head wear), the groom’s side wearing pink and silver and the bride’s side wearing orange and gold. The men also looked amazing in their clothes too.

Shortly after the traditional wedding commenced, the Alago Ijoko (the female ‘master of ceremonies’) takes control and leads and talks through the whole event. This started with Femi’s entrance with the ‘boys’ all dancing he looked marvellous in his clothes (agbaba I believe). He then has to go through an act basically asking the bride’s parents for their permission for their daughter, this is an elaborate show and amusing in many parts. The groom has to lay prostrate bowing to the bride’s family to show how much he respects them and wants their daughter.

The bride, Aderemi, then enters with the ‘girls’ again singing and dancing and looking stunning. She then goes through a similar act with the groom’s parents and is presented to them by the Alago Ijoko and ends with her putting the hat (Kufi) on the groom. Again this all takes time and in the midst of this there are three bowls placed on the floor and guests are encouraged to place money in them at different time. What generally happens is that people come with large amounts of small dominations of money so they can keep putting lots of notes in without the value being so great. People gather outside wedding events with wads of small notes ready to change with guests.

There was a table full of gifts for the brides family, and this is a long list of traditional gifts that are expected to be given. These gifts range from bottles of honey, suitcase, many large yams, fruit, salt, bottles of wine to (Derek) the ram (who didn’t make the ceremony). The whole thing is so elaborate and over the top but such fun and so different from UK weddings.

Once the ceremony was completed we all made our way to the other side of the hall for the meal and party. Remi had worked so hard on making this look fabulous paying attention to every detail, it looked spectacular. The venue that had looked so huge when we visited it earlier in the week suddenly didn’t feel so big with the 500 or so guests. The food just kept coming dish after dish was offered of every Nigerian dish, and cakes and later more food! Drinks were all served and waiters just walked around giving what ever you required.

The band was great and played between speeches from different guests. Then all the bride and grooms friends had to go outside (all girls apart from Gyles who decided to join in for this too). We danced in down the aisle then lined it, singing & dancing as Femi & Remi danced down it.

The bride and groom then had their first dance and people sprayed them with money (this is their wedding gift money). The music was great and much dancing was done as we danced in that fun African way around them. I enjoyed the dancing as those that know me would expect and as the only white person there drew quite a bit of attention and amusement.

The party started to die down around 7 (it had been going on a fair while) and by 8 I had to leave to catch my plane. As almost everyone had left by this time Femi came to the airport with me and helped me carry my bags, we said our goodbyes. I am so grateful to him and Remi for hosting me for my trip in a week that has been busy and stressful for them. I enjoyed my time with them and as always Femi has been a wonderful friend and host. I feel he is a true friend and am honoured to feel so loved by him and I love him dearly and wish him and Remi every happiness and blessing for their future together.

As I left Lagos looking out of the plane window as always I wonder if I will return. I struggle at times in my trips when I feel restricted with no transport and reliant on Femi and others for my every move. I enjoy the food but also struggle with it, that amount of carbs/starch I find difficult and end up not being able to eat. I miss my family and friends. But saying all this there are many times that I just do the simple things like walking out, visiting markets, just mixing with the people or flying over looking at the mass of houses and just feel that I am meant to be part of this and love it.

In conclusion I hope I return, Lagos has changed even in the three years I have been there. Things are slowly starting to improve in some areas, and hopefully this will continue and our vision at Wish For Africa is that we can help improve the health care system for everyone, it often feels that we are swimming against the tide and for every effort we make we are then knocked back. It would be so easy to think why bother, it’s not worth it. On these occasions I just have to think of any of the individuals we have helped and I know it is worth it. One day WFA will get the breakthrough it needs and deserves, someone will pay attention and we will change things for the better. Until that day I thank everyone for their support and ask you to continue encouraging us, telling others about us and these tiny efforts will eventually impact on the health care system of Nigeria.

Monday, 2 May 2011

April 30th 2011 - Happy Birthday Tony

Today is my husband’s birthday. Happy birthday Tony, sorry I’m not there to share it with you. I texted Tony first thing in the morning.  I spoke to him as soon as I could to ask Femi and use his phone. All seemed well at home Tony liked his presents that had been left for him. It felt like a long day, Remi had got the car and was running around Lagos sorting out everything. Femi was downstairs and I was using a very slow and frustrating internet.

About three Femi and I took a walk to the basket market. They make the wicker items from scratch. There were women stripping the bamboo canes into strips, then a man making even thinner and tidying them up. Then others were weaving all sorts of items, from baskets, cribs, chairs to sofas. There were so many stalls and so much choice all under the fly over, it was quite a sight almost hidden to the traffic on the express way above them. I had my camera out and after taking a photo of the Weavers Association we got called into a room full of men asking why I was taking photos, in a very typical Nigerian man way, Femi reassured them with a small amount of money and they welcomed me. I also enjoyed some corn and coconut from the side of the road. This is something I always enjoy and hadn’t had this trip.
It was nice walking along the roads rather than driving, so many people say welcome and hello. It is such a different way of life, many things would just never happen in the UK. Yet here it’s the norm and no one bats an eye or even notices things could be different. Its said to be a dangerous place by some yet children play in the streets at such a young age not something you see in the UK, we fear that they will come to harm. So I ask where is it more dangerous or have we [UK] become so health and safety obsessed that we see danger in everything?

We then went to the photocopying shop, or rather shack the size of a small shed with leads and plugs all over and the oldest computers ever which you can use as an internet café. I sat on a bench while the photocopier spewed out its copies and a large fan kept the air circulating.

We returned home and met with Folekemi and Femi’s other sisters it was great to see her and as always she made me laugh and fussed other me. They stayed and ate and waited for Remi to return before leaving. A lady came round to put decorations on all the items for tomorrow everything is silver and pink and so much detail and tradition goes into this.

A little later when Remi had gone back out, Femi and I walked to the photocopy shop again to collect the items and while I waited for the suya man to cook my tasty what ever part of the cow it is, Femi had his hair cut and I sat watching Lagos go by in the dark of the evening. When you’re in the poorer communities so many more people acknowledge and welcome you, I guess its because they don’t see white people every day in these areas. 

April 29th 2011 - Let's go buy a ram

Today Remi was out early, I laid in and eventually got up and had breakfast with Femi. We then sat down to watch the DVD of the registry and church part of there wedding. They both looked stunning and very happy. Nigerian weddings do go on much longer than ours and they are full of singing, dancing, praising the Lord as well as plenty of advice from everyone on how to have a good marriage. At this point Femi reminded me it was the royal wedding today, which I have managed to avoid completely not being in the country.

Remi returned and we then went out to do some last minute things. I was measured for my wedding attire, the material is pink and silver sequins, I was told I’m going to have a gele the traditional headdress worn by the women but alas I don’t feel I can carry it off as they do.

We then went to a market in Surulere where Remi’s sister has a shop and we picked up some things for the wedding from there. As we walked along the market streets there were chickens being slaughtered, women cutting up tripe in bowl of water, very different to our markets. No shopping trolleys here but boys with wheel barrows eager to help you transport your wares for a small fee.

Then what was probably the highlight of the trip, we went to buy a ram. This was no visit to Sainsbury, this was a massive animal market with herds of goats, rams, chickens, guinea fowl. It is traditional for the bride and groom to buy the brides family a ram and this is what we did. There was a part of me that thought I should be disgusted by this place, compared with the conditions we have to keep animals in this was far below and health and safety rules in the UK but then again so is everything here. To the contrary I was enthralled by the place, it was so busy and life as it is here. People don’t go and buy shrink wrapped joints from the supermarket, they breed them, slaughter them and eat every bit of them, no wasting here.

We then had to transport this rather large ram ( I fondly called him Derek) to Remi’s parent’s house. So in the car it was put. Several helpful bystanders (all hoping for a reward) grabbed hold of this ram tied its feet and placed him in the boot of Femi’s car, thankfully it didn’t mess with nerves. We drove the ten minutes to Remi’s parents with this ram looking at me and barring which all felt rather amusing.

We then returned home and spent some time in my room, this is when I miss just picking up a phone and speaking to friends and family. Having to ask for someone phone and then worrying about their credit is not so easy or convenient. Later in the evening I was able to use the internet and at least chat on line with a few friends. Remi was up sorting things out till very late, she has worked so hard to make this wedding go just as she wants it.

April 28th 2011

Today Remi had lots of preparation and meetings to do, so I went along for the ride. After visiting the bank and dropping off Femi we headed for the wedding venue. We arrived to a reasonably modest looking place with a huge water feature outside, as we walked through the doors my jaws dropped it was huge, the size of a football pitch. From the inside it looked like a Marquee with reams of rouched material from ceiling to floor and massive diamond dropping chandeliers. Remi discussed the final details with various people wanting every detail to be perfect. As she does this sort of thing for a living its hard to hand her own wedding over to someone else. I sat sweating in the heat of the Marquee for what felt like hours but was only an hour or so. Femi popped in for a short time and he had Mr Dee with him. It was great to see him and after a huge hug and a few words they went.

We then made our way to the government offices for Remi to see her uncle. These were loads of buildings each one servicing a different facility. Cars were parked all over the place the usual Lagos chaos and rules (that there are no rules). We also bumped into one of Remi’s sisters and stopped to talk.

The rest of the day was spent weaving in and out the Lagos traffic. Finally we popped into Sweet Sensations for a meat pie for a late lunch. I have noticed that dotted around the area are these mesh like pieces of art, things like butterflies, brightly coloured and in random places. This I guess is part of Lagos’ attempt to beautify itself.

Femi also sorted out the internet, in a fashion, unfortunately my netbook hasn’t a disc drive so I couldn’t load it onto it. So I still remain without internet in my room or a local sim card so contacting family and friends, has not been easy or when I’ve wanted it. Which is frustrating but thankfully I’m only here for a week so I’m sure I will cope. The use I had allowed me to check out facebook and my emails which was useful.

April 27th 2011

A good nights sleep last night.  The first heavy rain of my trip was crashing down about 7.30 the noise made worse due to the tin roofs but typically it only lasted for 15 minutes or so. After my wash Femi sorted toast for breakfast and we went to meet my friend on the moped the money man.
We headed to Olowoora to see Gyles at the medical centre. Gyles is a medical student who contacted us at Wish for Africa wanting to spend time with us for his elective. It was the Ante natal clinic so a great opportunity to share the baby clothes that had kindly been donated to me and they were very well received along with some toys for the older ones. On my arrival all the women greeted me with a song and some dancing and of course I joined in. Gyles looked well and we handed him some money from WFA funds towards his costs as he was finding it difficult to sustain himself and was thinking of going to stay with someone, which we didn’t feel safe about due to not knowing them.

We then headed to Femi’s cousin who very sadly lost his wife last week. She had given birth to a beautiful baby boy and with a previous history of pre-eclampsia, this time it went to eclampsia a day or so after the birth. It sounds like the blood pressure may not have been well controlled and the hospital had decided not to do an autopsy, typically here the situation was probably covered up, no audit, no lessons learnt, no change of practise, no reviewed policies. Just a family with young children and a baby all with no mother, and this wasn’t even a poor family they could afford a good hospital, but so often it seems that the practises here are not as up-to-date, not evidence based and many people suffer not even realising it should and could be better.
The family although grieving were very welcoming, I was offered akara and made friends with the youngest daughter, who was only about 2 she shared her biscuits with me or should I say the crumbs which she amused herself by crumbling the biscuit on me, with fits of laughter. The grandmother decided I should be given a Nigerian name and suggested Adejoke (which apparently means some thing like gather around or together). It humbled me to think that these strangers in the midst of their grief can still be so warm and welcoming.

We visited a IVF clinic in Ikoyi  run by Dr Bolaji who trained in both Nigeria and Norway. He then decided to set up business here to provide a service to the increasing population of couples that are unable to conceive naturally. We were given an impromptu  guided tour of the unit by his wife and found it to be well run, clean and professional. There were several people being or waiting to be seen and they had a photo gallery of all the successful births. I also commented on and was impressed by a counselling service that they supply which is not a common thing in Nigeria. Stress, depression, mental health is not readily accepted here often thought of as a weakness or a blame thing, it was good to see that this clinic was taking the stress that often comes with the issues around IVF seriously and acknowledging and dealing with them.

As we drove I was trying to work out if things had really begun to improve here or was it that I was now used to the sights and they no longer surprise me. This in part is true I believe that familiarity does breed contempt but saying that the road sides generally were clean, the main road we travelled along had no major holes, it had a new layer of tarmac. The yellow buses had gone giving way to red and blue ones which had taken there place in a new government scheme allowing private enterprise to run the routes. They certainly looked an improvement on the previous buses. Nigeria has such a huge way to go in so many areas but things are beginning to change and that has to be a positive encouragement for its future.

April 26th 2011

As usual on my first night anywhere different I didn’t have the best sleep ever, the noise of the air con and what sounded like a generator humming outside kept disturbing me. Remi woke me around eight to ask if I wanted breakfast, I showered which is an all together different experience from home, not the high powered shower I am used to, but a bit more than a trickle, but with the aide of a bucket and bowl which every Nigerian must be familiar with all was OK.
Remi I feel is going to attempt to feed me to death, she made a huge breakfast of scrambled eggs, with mixed veg and chillies, sausages and toast a delicious start to the morning.

Today is Election Day (one of many as they don’t do them all on one day here). This means it’s quieter out, similar to a bank holiday. I walked with Femi and Remi to the polling station a few streets away. I was welcomed by the locals and offered food and shade, which I declined as I was full from my breakfast banquet. We got there only for Femi to find out his name wasn’t on their list to vote, even though he had a card saying to do so. They told him to return later in the day, it appeared he wasn’t the only one to not be included on the list.

Remi and I left Femi walked to see and discuss her wedding cake at the house of the Doctor who’s restaurant in Ikeja  I visited on my last trip where at last I had a great cup of coffee, a must visit for any one coming here. The doctor seemed a charming man who made us welcome and then walked with us some of the way back before catching his lift to another appointment.
We then visited some neighbours who had three lovely children the youngest about 16 months was very bemused by me and clung to Remi not being familiar with oyibo (white person). Eventually he smiled and clapped at me at least from a distance.
We went home and Remi prepared another lovely meal of fried rice, plantain and meat whilst I watch Nigerian TV from African Magic to music and a few American things in between.
We all rested in the afternoon heat and I read and blogged as well as grabbed forty winks before heading to the airport. Femi’s sister Folake was arriving from the UK, we were originally going to fly together but we couldn’t make the same day. We met up with other family members including Femi’s mum who I hadn’t met before but have heard a lot about from Femi. She is a lovely lady, reminding me of Folake in her ways laughter and talking. Also Folake’s older son who still lives in Lagos, when she arrived and saw him the tears of joy were unstoppable. It was a touching moment to see a mothers love for her son that she hadn’t seen in quite some time. We had been there for two hours waiting for her to come through with her baggage. In Lagos airport nobody is allowed inside to greet people, we even had to slip something into the guards hand to allow us to wait outside the doors, it’s a busy place. We all had our hugs and walked her to the car park past all the money touts and people trying to grab your business or attention.

On our return Remi wanted to cook again but we agreed on a lighter snack, Femi decided to do cup cakes Femi style, this ended up being a huge bowl of custard with a cup cake in it, which we all sat and enjoyed. Followed by a chase around the bath of the odd insect, before stupidly losing my ring down the sink plug hole! Then blog and bed and hopefully a better nights sleep.

April 25th 2011- Returning to Lagos

I have returned toLagos for the third time in as many years, but this time my charity work here isn’t my reason for coming. I have been invited to attend the wedding of Dr Femi Olaleye to the beautiful Aderemi.
I had a good flight from London, the plane was not full and I got three seats to myself which was great almost feeling first class, I put my feet up and relaxed, read my book and watched the Black Swan. The food however didn’t quite feel so first class with one of my least favourite combinations for sweet, rhubarb and ginger.
As I looked out at the now familiar terrain of Lagos, which suddenly appears after the green landscape before it, a mass of brown, blue and red roofs and the yellow buses and taxis on the busy roads, we landed smoothly. I departed the plane feeling less anxious than on previous journeys, knowing what to expect. The escalator down, which can be manic at the bottom if queues are backing up and end in people falling onto each other, was even ok this time, although I was cautious to check before embarking onto it.  
I went though the control with relative ease, even remembering to write an address down on my blue form. I walked to get my trolley gave my hundred naira and waited for my bags, and waited and waited. Eventually as most passengers had picked up their luggage and left the airport I was just starting to feel anxious when “Hallelujah” I said aloud as my bag came through onto the conveyer belt. I had received a text and knew Femi was waiting (patiently) outside, so I headed out saying no thank you to the many offers of help from the many people trying to make their money from the airport traffic. I looked around the area which as always is manically busy and loud and caught Femi waving in the distance, welcome to Lagos.
We took the short drive to Femi and Remi’s home which is situated in a well secured area of town. I was welcomed by Remi to their house and shown to my room, all a far cry from Femi’s previous lodgings in Mafoluku. Remi prepared a lovely meal with pounded yam and then I retired to my room where I unpacked and went to bed.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The WISH FOR AFRICA's New Year & Valentine's Dinner Party 2011

After weeks of preparation, Facebook advertising, texting, BBMing and emailing the 19th February had finally arrived and one of our now annual Wish For Africa events was ready to go.

Femi and I, along with Tony and Michelle arrived at 805 early to set up and receive our guests. As a trickle of people started to arrived, I began to get nervous knowing that if numbers were short then our costs would be high to us. I was told to relax and have faith, I reassured myself ‘African time o’ and of course most of the people that had requested a place arrived, by the end of the evening over 40 people had joined us.

People’s kindness and thoughtfulness never ceases to amaze me. Shortly after arriving a friend of WFA Mr Ernest Oladipo Okoh just dropped in to say sorry he couldn’t make it but left us a sizable donation.

We officially commenced the party with an opening prayer and the delicious buffet was served. We sat down to an abundance of Nigerian cuisine including rice, pounded yam, plantain, moi-moi, fish, chicken, tripe, Egusi and gizzards. Everyone appeared to enjoy the feast and there was plenty for seconds!

The evening of course was in aid of our fantastic charity Wish For Africa and part of the event is to report to everyone the things we are doing. At this point some of our guests are invited to speak about their involvement. Ayo Akinfe author of "Fuelling the Delta Fires" gave us a reading from his book and shared why he believed that healthcare in Nigeria needs to be improved.

We were introduced to all our speakers by our hostess, the lovely Lola Atkins. We also heard eloquently from Muyiwa, Mo Abatan , Gyles Morrison, Titilayomi Shonubi, Jacqueline Wabara, Bianca Cotton AKA Miss Nubian, Joyce Sam-Amaga, all speaking about their involvement and support for WFA.

I then gave a synopsis of the WFA’s events over the past year and an outline of the amazing things Femi has been doing in Nigeria. I also spoke on why I feel WFA is such a worthy charity to support. How I have seen with my own eyes the great works being done and the impact that WFA is having on the lives of many that live in such deprived surroundings. I know that money donated to WFA is being ploughed into helping many in Lagos and this is a charity of good standing and morals with forgotten people at its heart.

Finally Dr Femi Olaleye took to the floor. He had said that he would keep it short and only take five minutes!! But I never believed that for a second.
As usual Femi was factual, inspiring, and motivating! He put over his dream of improving healthcare in Nigeria, something that WFA believes should be a right for all not just for the wealthy.

This amazing man [Femi Olaleye] not only talks the talk but he walks the walk too. He left a comfortable lifestyle in the UK with a vision to make an impact and a change to those that can’t help themselves back in his home country. He has put more time, effort and money into this vision than many would ever realise or appreciate. He has humbled himself and relied on God for everything, often to the point of despair. God has always been good and has always provided when all has seemed lost, and WFA will never be beaten or trodden down by the politics and chaos that Nigeria often throws at itself. We will battle on God led for the deprived and needy in areas of Lagos that many choose to ignore or don’t even realise exist, even though they are many.

The evening concluded with the usual photo shots with everyone looking fabulous, ladies in their high, high, high heels and dresses and the gents looking handsome in their suits.

A successful and fun evening with some loyal friends and many new faces all equally welcome and much appreciated. I would like to thank Mrs James and all at 805 for their great service. I would like to say many blessings to those that donated above the price of the meal to WFA, without your support we would struggle to make the difference we do. Finally I would like to thank everyone for attending and supporting the event whether in person on the night or by sharing WFA with their friends through media such as facebook. Please shout about our good work and pass our vision on, you just don’t know the next person that you share our name and work with may just be the person we need!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Saturday 9th October 2010 - Miss Nubian 2010

Miss Nubian 2010 Beauty Pageant in support of Wish For Africa.

Let me begin and take you back to Wednesday (6th Oct) around 08.30 as I was arriving at work, as I went to put my phone on silent I noticed a message from Femi. It went along the line of ‘ just received message from Jacqueline asking if I was boarding a plane to judge Miss Nubian beauty pageant, as I’m not hope your free Saturday night’. To tell you the truth I was in shock I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Me? Judging a beauty pageant, not my usual Saturday night, or any night come to that. It certainly gave everyone at work a laugh, seeing my panic….put me on a plane to Nigeria and that’s fine but expect me to have anything to do with a beauty pageant and I’m out of my comfort zone.

Blackberry messenger was busy that day with Femi reassuring me that I would be fine and to relax and enjoy it. That evening I rushed to Bluewater to find an outfit, fit for the occasion and thankfully found it. Just preparation for a speech and updating of our display board to be completed and I’d be ready, well as ready as I could be for something to which I had no idea what to expect.

Saturday here and yes it was really happening, I was expected to attend and judge a beauty pageant it hadn’t been a dream and no one ‘more suitable’ had been asked to do the job. I guess I need more of that Nigerian spirit of I can do anything and stop being so British in thinking I can’t.

I arrived at the luxurious Thistle hotel just off Oxford St with Folakemi both in evening wear and heels lugging our huge bag with the display board to show information about Wish For Africa. As we entered the foyer without asking we were pointed into the direction we required. We took the long escalator to the second floor to the Hyde Park suite. We set up our stand and chatted with those that came to enquire, including the handsome Mr Charles Emeka who was one of tonight’s hosts, I just have to add that he recognised me as his Facebook friend and shamefully I had to ask who he was (sorry Charles!). Eventually we went into the event suite, by which time Lola Atkins another trustee for WFA had arrived to support us.

The show was meant to start at 7.00 but unfortunately unforeseen circumstances caused problems and the show didn’t commence until 8.30, African time O! The audience was beginning to get agitated but our host Mr Emeka soon managed to draw them back with the help of his beautiful co-host Glorianne Francis.

Jacqueline Wabara the CEO of Miss Nubian foundation introduced me as representing Wish For Africa, I was asked to speak about our charities work. I always get nervous with public speaking and again not at all confident but I thanked Jacquie for supporting WFA and gave apologies for Dr Femi Olaleye’s absence and mentioned the amazing things that our charity is doing for improving healthcare in the deprived area’s of Lagos and how we hope to expand to all areas of need in Africa in the future.
We were entertained though out the evening by a talented array of acts including Stomp and Shout a children’s dance group, Tony Fernandez a poet and performances by singers Lander Khandel and BabyBoy.

The judges were all introduced and we made our way to our seats. The other judges included Mark Walters, former Aston Villa, Liverpool and England football player. Des O Conner, speaker and black date coach/agency CEO. Sporah Njau, presenter of Sporah TV show. Ngozi Nwaim, CEO of Posh Lady International.

The 13 contestants made their way onto the stage representing many countries including Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Barbados, Jamaica, Angola and Ghana. They all looked stunning and bursting with confidence. It was difficult to judge between them they were all beautiful yet varied. We judged on several categories including traditional, swimwear, talent and evening wear. They walked the cat walk in their various outfits that they had chosen and in the most amazing heels.

The talent was wide-ranging from singers, dancers, photography to poetry and a make-over including a haircut (or at least a wig cut!). I have to add that some were more ‘talented’ than others but they all tried and kudos for that. There was a few technical problems with music for the girls which I’m sure gave them added stress but they remained fairly composed and carried on.

Once all the categories had been completed the judges added up our individual scores and chose our top six which were then put together to decide the overall winner. A close contest but the prize went to Miss Sierra Leon, Bianca, who was then crowned Miss Nubian 2010.

I started the evening feeling nervous and unsure of what was to happen, but as usual the familiar quaintness that I love about Lagos came through. Although things didn’t go exactly to plan, times went to pot, entertainers didn’t arrive, judges weren’t fed, everyone kept smiling and the atmosphere remained positive. Well done Jacquie for all the effort and hard work that you and your team put into the event. I must say it was an experience and I enjoyed it. And thankfully NEPA never went down!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Walk4WISH 2010

Today for the third year running that supporters of Wish For Africa united together to champion, celebrate and shout out loud their loyalty to the cause.
I picked up Femi and we drove to Thamesmead to prepare for the walk. We had already been blessed the sun was shining after a week of rain. Folakemi and Lola were already there so we began to set out the publicity banners and prepared the T-shirts ready for the arrival of the walkers.

Soon everyone started to arrive and adorn their Wish For Africa, a sight that Morrison shoppers could hardly ignore. The photo shoot began to capture to excitement and mood of the day.

At round 10.15 the first cluster of walkers set off for the 5 mile walk along the Thames Path. Letting them go ahead the second group set off by 10.30 at a steady pace. We were a mass of red, white and blue strolling along by the Thames with sounds of talking and laughter.

I was in the second group which also included Dayo Olumo, Obonjo Comedian, among many others. The children on bikes and scooters were surging ahead excited and happy. As soon as we got to the Thames Path Danni Cooper set off to run the course, we sent her off with a cheer.

As we got to about the half way mark Danni came running back past us. When we approached the Woolwich skateboard park once again we could see the dominant red of the walkers awaiting our arrival.

Everyone was in a buoyant mood and it was so nice to gather and meet with many of your Facebook friends. Crisps, chocolates, Chin chin (a Nigerian sweet biscuit that I had not had before), drinks were handed out to all that had walked at the refreshment stop.

Femi then took centre stage and reminded everyone the importance of the day. He talked about the struggles and issues of health care in Nigeria and how backing Wish For Africa can help make a world of difference to those that can’t even afford to eat let-a-loan purchase health care. How Wish For Africa wants to make health care local to those that need it, so the poor don’t need to travel miles to see a doctor. After Femi’s inspirational talk Mr Dayo Olumo also motivated us to believe that as individuals, all different, all unique, yet each in our own way can make a difference.

On a lighter note Mr Obonjo Comdian of the Lafta republic made us all smile with his unique style of humour. Jacqueline Wabara then spoke about her support through fashion shows. I then spoke about the good work that I had seen for myself that Femi and his staff do back in Nigeria with the support of Wish For Africa and how I have been so impressed that I have now self funded 2 trips to Lagos and also become a trustee of the charity. A few more words of praise and encouragement were shared and then we all headed back.
The whole group left together on the return leg of the walk, although we naturally went at different paces with some ahead while others strolled behind. A number of people along the way asked us what we were doing and we were able to share about the charity. Several of us in the front half were so engrossed in chat that we completely missed the turning back to Morrison’s. Soon we received a phone call from the others informing us of our mistake. It felt like we had walked an extra mile as we turned around to retrace our steps.

At the slope we should have gone up everyone was waiting for us which made a nice ending to the walk and meant we all arrived at the car park together, united.

The amazing thing about this walk is that friends, from many African countries, from all over the UK from Nottingham, Hertfordshire, Surrey, London, Kent, both black and white, Christian and Muslim all together with no prejudices, all happily enjoying each others company in support of the same thing. Everyone in agreement that things several hundred miles away need improving and in the belief that together we can help make a difference. By supporting Wish For Africa we can help make changes happen.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Saturday 5th June 2010

My last sleep in Lagos was a good one. NEPA appeared to be kind to me and to my knowledge remained on all night. NEPA’s favour lasted until about 1.30, so I was blessed with air con and light all morning. This gave me the luxury of dry hair, light to pack by and even the internet was working well and fast. I could almost have forgotten its inconvenience over the past two weeks (but only almost).

Angela gave me the beautiful outfits she had made for me and I tried them on. Not being an expert at tying a Gele (head tie) Angela came to my rescue and showed me how it should be done. They look so stunning when you know what you’re doing and just from a simple piece of material. I unfortunately can’t carry it off as well as the Nigerians they always look stunning in them.

Femi came mid afternoon and I was able to complete my packing with the missing suitcase recovered. I said my goodbyes and thank yous to Angela, Damola and family for their kindness in hosting me, making me feel part of their family and for their generosity of gifts.

We headed to Surulere to meet with Aderemi in her showroom, where she displays her talents for design for prospective clients to view. We then headed though the Lagos streets back to Mafoluku to pick up the clothes that the staff had made for me, taking in the sights and sounds for the last time.

We then headed to Ikeja to a restaurant called the Orchid Bistro that is run by a Doctor that opened this little oasis in Lagos. Nigerian food is hardly featured on the menu, the food was great and the coffee (for one of the world fussiest coffee drinkers) was perfect, hot, strong, not bitter. The décor which Aderemi had designed was clean and modern, I could have been in the UK, it was simple yet effective and classy. Not the cheapest place to eat but somewhere I would certainly recommend and like to return to.

While there we happened to meet Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi, the commissioner for tourism, who appeared to be a very pleasant gentleman. He was enjoying the atmosphere with his sons. I chatted briefly and said what an enjoyable time I had had in Lagos.

Then Chief Dele Momodu came in and I was introduced to him. This gentleman is the publisher of the Ovation Magazine and was the kind donator of 1 million Naira (£4500) to Wish for Africa at the Ovation Red Carol event in 2009. It is also said that he has aspirations to be a future President, never one to be too in awe of people, I just said nice to meet him and commented on how nice his aftershave was (I’m sure Femi despairs of me sometimes).

The meal over we made our way to the airport, where Femi drove to the departures drop off, said a quick farewell and left. Lagos airport is not as organized or as updated as UK airports and unless you know what you’re doing, it’s not obvious. Anxiously, I made my way to the check in area and gave the helpless blonde white woman look, until someone pointed me in the direction of where to go. I had to then manage my two heavy suitcases, pull along cabin bag, laptop bag and handbag single handedly as the trolley had to be abandoned. The suitcases had to be placed on weighing scales then I had to drag them over to the next person who writes your name in a book, then to someone who opens and looks through each bag, then finally to the check in.

Once this was over I joined the long queue through to departures. With no air conditioning and no computer system it is a long and sweaty process. The queue crept forward slowly and I found myself standing next to a Nigerian woman with a little boy Casey, who were on their way to Germany. He chatted to everyone and he at least gave everyone around him some amusement as we waited for our turn. Eventually it was my turn to go before the two different people that check your papers, then for my stuff to be scanned and me to be frisked, which everyone is, but I wonder if the detector thing you walk through even works?

Finally through, I made my way to my gate, where I sat down with the crowds waiting to board. We were then called in and made our way to our seats and waited for take off. The plane left on time and as we rose over Lagos, I looked at the areas of light and darkness thinking I will miss the uncertainty of NEPA in a funny sort of way. I wondered if or when I will ever return.

Lagos like us humans is full of faults and inadequacies but has something about it that is appealing, exciting and addictive. There is so much room for improvement, so many areas it falls short in but it also appears to be genuinely making progress. So much of Lagos is hard to understand and difficult to comprehend, yet it is vibrant and welcoming. Its people can be selfish, greedy, corrupt, yet they can be warm, generous and inspiring. Lagos has a long way to go and much to do before it can become appealing to holiday makers but it has the potential, it has the beaches, the sun and the atmosphere, but it has to work on its roads, electricity, beaches, safety etc. Lagos can and will be great, health care will improve, it will be a mega city, but people will have to have long term vision and not just a desire to fill their own pockets, once the people in charge take control for the right reasons Lagos and Nigeria will be great.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Friday 4th June 2010

Heavy storms throughout the night again meant another hot and sweaty night without NEPA. This lack of power continued all morning and after my shower my hair was still damp two hours later. I really fancied my rolls toasted for breakfast but no power, no toaster, no toasted rolls.

The rain outside was persistent and heavy, yet it was still hot. The driver came for me around noon and I made a quick dash for the car, still managing to get wet in the torrential downpour.

We drove along and as well as the roads of rivers, where understandably the drains were finding it hard to cope, there were thousands of umbrellas of all shapes and sizes. Okadas (motorbike taxis) were carrying passengers with umbrellas up. Those that didn’t have umbrellas used a multitude of things to prevent themselves from getting wet, bags, sheets of plastic, upturned bowls and buckets. I have also noticed that many of the Okada drivers that wear coats seem to wear them the wrong way round, some still done up and some open. I can’t quite see the benefit from this but today in the rain there was even more doing it (I guess to reduce the rain getting to their fronts). As buses and cars drove along huge tides of water were sprayed and shot out indiscriminately, hitting whoever got in their way.

Once at Mafoluku I was welcomed by Mr Dee and his handsome little boy. They looked stunning in their matching tie and dye suits. Unfortunately I was not wearing my clothes that had been made as they were a little too big and although I had the skirt altered I hadn’t brought the top with me, Femi was disappointed.

I had to pick up my suitcases from the clinic today so that I could pack ready for my return home tomorrow. I had come to Mafoluku with these bags full of donations and gifts and very sadly someone had decided to take my bag for themselves. It is not the value of the item but the fact that I had come with gifts for the staff and someone decided that it was their right to just take what was not theirs.

Soon we had a group meeting and prayers of thanks we said for the success of the stay. Then each member of staff said their own words of thanks for my visit, which was very touching. Finally Femi spoke and after discussing all that had been achieved with the Children’s party and the delivery etc, he pointed out how disappointing it is that someone had taken the bag without permission. He also said that he hoped that it had been a mistake and that the person hadn’t realised that it wasn’t a donation as well, and that they would return it before I left. With the formal talking over we had crisps, crackers and drinks and photos were taken. Soon after we had gone into the office one of the girls came up to speak to Femi, and said a member of staff had said she had taken the bag and would return in to me.

In the afternoon the Mother, Father and baby that was delivered here on the 1st June came back to see us. Due to the kindness of two donors from the UK, we were able to bless them and their baby. They were handed enough to pay their medical expenses and more to give them a start with their new baby. They were so happy with the donations, it has made a huge difference to them not to have to think about their bill, even though it was much smaller than they would have been charged at other hospitals. We had our photos taken and the father requested that they have a copy so they can show the baby as it grows up, to remind her how blessed she was the day she was born and how the Oyibo was there too from the UK.

Femi and I then made our way to visit Abimbola and her husband Yemi who had very kindly asked us to dinner at their house. We were warmly received and had a lovely dinner of Jollof, chicken, beans and plantain served with red wine and juice, a huge feast.

We talked business and discussed the future of Wish for Africa and Femi spoke of his dreams of healthcare in Nigeria and our role in that. Abimbola and Yemi were very receptive and encouraging, and hopefully will be a part of the future growth of this healthcare vision. We praised God for all he has done and that He will use us like a snowball, that we will grow and affect many needy people in the areas that have been neglected for far too long.

We left there and made our way home not quite managing to miss every pot hole in the darkness of night. The use of car headlights is another thing obviously not discussed at the driving test. Many cars at night spend all the time on full beam so completely blinding on coming traffic, maybe a ploy so they keep out of your way, giving you rule of the road. Other car drivers even have their fog lights on even though fog is not really an issue here, well certainly not in the times I’ve been here. Femi received a call from the staff nurse on duty who informed us that the bag had been returned by the person that took it.

I arrived home and thankfully it was ‘up NEPA’ which meant I could sit peacefully without the generator screaming and in the coolness of my air conditioned room. Where I could begin to pack and get ready for tomorrow’s departure.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Thursday 3rd June 2010

In the middle of the night I woke up and as I opened my eyes I couldn’t see, oh no I thought I’m blind, then I remembered I was in Lagos and NEPA was down. I scrambled to the end of the bed to find the table and my phone as I pressed it there was light! Not blind at all just dark.

Today was going to be a girl’s day out with Angela and she had gone to work till lunch time so I had a lazy start to my day. I laid in my bed checking out the internet and chatting with Tony, then Michelle back home on skype.

Angela came for me at midday and we headed for Victoria Island over the Third Mainland Bridge, past the fat fish and houses on stilts and eventually to the huge impressive buildings, the other side of Lagos. We were headed for the UBA bank that Damola works in to swap drivers so that Angela’s driver could go and pick the children up from school.

This meant the usual thing of sitting in Lagos traffic, which although would drive me mad back home, I do get pleasure in watching Lagos go by. The Okada drivers and their passengers, although most of them on Victoria Island only had one passenger, many carry two or more and the things you see people carrying whilst on them can be amazing. Huge panes of glass, long lengths of pipes or wood, heavy bags on their heads and often babies strapped to the backs of mothers. Although it is law to have a helmet, like most laws here it is not followed too well. Often if the Okada rider has a helmet it is in his hand or often it is a hard hat from a building site.

As we headed from inner town to the edge heading for Shoprite, we passed along a road that is currently under construction. I had passed this way last year and it was good to see the progress that was being made. A toll had been built which I’m sure I saw the foundations for last year and couldn’t see what it was, although it had not yet started to take money.

This part of town has some of the most expensive hotels about and they look very grand and obviously cost a fortune to stay in. I would imagine most of the visitors to these are business men/women and there must be many as there are loads of hotels and they must make money to survive. There are also more under construction so the need must be about. The oil industry here is very big and a lot of business comes from that I guess.

This is when you see the extremes of wealth side by side grand beautiful buildings and outside the cooking pots and sellers in their shacks. The stop and shop sellers making the money in the chaos of the traffic.

We finally arrived at Shoprite which is a large Asda type shop near Lekki that also has smaller outlet shops and another big warehouse type shop called Game within the complex. In these you can pretty much buy anything and there were lots of familiar brands and food I haven’t seen since I was in the UK. This was the first time in this visit that I didn’t feel as though I stood out so much, as there were several non-Africans doing their shopping there.

I excitedly got crusty bread rolls, camembert cheese, salt and vinegar crisps and of course chocolate! If I ever lived here in Lagos as long as I was near Shoprite I could survive. We walked around and looked at the shops but shortly had to head back to the car. By the time I got back in the car the chocolate was started, very nice too.

We then made our way to the Silverbird cinema. I have been there before on my last visit but not to go to the cinema. We had a look around and then grabbed some lunch at a Nando’s type restaurant, once we had finished there we had time to spare before the film, so we walked around the shops and I got a couple of small gifts to take home.

We then went and purchased popcorn and then Angela insisted on us having ice cream too which was a really nice treat and thoroughly enjoyable. The Silverbird complex was really nice, well decorated certainly by Nigerian standards and the toilets were spotless, the cleanest I have been in, in Nigeria. There was even nice toilet paper (this matters to a girl), even the public toilets in the Hilton Abuja were disappointing. The film we saw was Robin Hood and very good that was too. The only thing was it was running to African time and we were meant to go in at 5.30 and we were told to wait as the previous showing had yet to finish it was 5.50 before it started. Well, when I say started, we sat and watched the end credits before the start of our showing (only in Nigeria).

When it had finished we made our way to the driver outside and he took us home. The traffic was not too bad and we passed over third mainland quite quickly the stilted houses almost invisible in the darkness of night. The busy night time trade was under way and the streets as always were busy with people going about their business. When we got home the children greeted us with excitement, and I gave them the popcorn I hadn’t eaten and retreated to my room (to eat chocolate!).

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Wednesday 2nd June 2010

I woke up after a fairly good night with the remains of stomach cramps, I had these all day yesterday and ate very little as a consequence, but they hadn’t gone. The power was off so I lay dozing for a while but soon thought I had best be ready as Mr Dee and the driver were meeting me here and one may be early.

I was going on a radio programme, Talk Nigeria with Ify Onyegbule, and had to be there for the start at 11 to speak at 11.30. Mr Dee turned up on time but we had not heard from the driver. Eventually we got hold of him and he was only at the Third Mainland Bridge, it didn’t look like we would be on time. The driver rang and said he was round the corner, so we went outside to wait he got to us by 11.05.

Typically whenever you’re late the traffic is bad, and I could feel myself becoming anxious, but what was the point, I either made it or I didn’t, it wasn’t life threatening, so I just relaxed. We arrived at the studio gates at 11.30, the man at the first set of gates must have recognised me from before as he was about to check us and then smiled at me and opened them. We stopped at the second set where you have to sign in and get ID, no one was there. We blow the horn (of course) and again, then the gate man came running round from behind the hut, obviously just been for a wee, still doing himself up. He caught my eye as I laughed and he realised what he was doing and turned away to prevent my blushes!

Nigerian men, I must say, wee anywhere and everywhere, with no shame whatsoever. I lose count in a day of how many times you see a man with a stream of urine being expelled. There are even signs painted in a lot of areas stating do not urinate here. I even saw a public toilet and a man going outside. Mind you, you probably have to be brave to use public toilets here as they are not the best toilets even in the nicest of places. I will also add that children and women can also be seen squatting regularly.

I rushed into the studio at 11.35 as Ify introduced me and asked why I was late. I apologised and blamed Wyhid the driver. The programme was fairly short with me and another lady on it, a bit of small talk about why I was here, then the dreaded question of how does health care here compare with the UK. This is difficult to answer without sounding like “we are great and you are not”, but I do my best at being diplomatic. Ify was really pleasant and I thanked her for asking me onto the show. We had the usual photo shot and I was on my way.

We then went to the Ketu clinic to see all the staff there. I had bought enough gifts so they would have something too, but when I gave them to the girls at Mafoluku, in my naivety, I’d said one thing each as the gifts had to go around, but they went like wild fire. I turned around and nothing was left (if there is a next time I will be less trusting). The Ketu staff said hello and I went in to see the lovely Dr Yussef, we had a good discussion about health issues and how things were going there. He had also visited his sister in England since my last visit and had stayed fairly near me, he even had to attend A&E in the hospital that I work in. I said next time he was to contact me and he assured me he would.

The head nurse then came in and asked if I had bought gifts for them, Nigerians are very big on giving which is really generous of them but they are also very loud in asking. I had to apologise that I had not got anything and explained what happened. I don’t think they were too impressed with me.

Dr Yussef told me about a recent birth they had there. A baby had been born an extended frank breech (basically bum first with legs up by its ears). It also had a myelomeningocele (a growth on the base of the spine associated with Spina bifida, formed due to the spinal canal not closing before birth), this burst at delivery. The baby born weighing 2.3kg (5lb) also had talipes (club foot) and a bowed leg. This in the UK would have been picked up on scan and been delivered somewhere appropriate for its additional care. This baby was transferred to a General hospital and to my knowledge has survived so far. The government will I understand pay for the operations for the baby but any drugs required will have to be paid by the parents. The reason this family didn’t have a suggested scan was that they couldn’t afford one, they too are unlikely to be able to keep up with the cost of medication should this baby survive. Arguably what life is there ahead for this child when you see the streets full of disabled beggars because there is no welfare system to support them?

The afternoon was taken up with resting. I was going to Nando’s this evening, Aderemi the very beautiful and considerate lady that kindly gave me the use of her driver for my stay had offered to catch up with me and take me out. I was intrigued to see if Nando’s was the same as in the UK. The décor was definitely reminiscent of the ones back home but disappointingly there were no olives (Nando’s do the best olives ever but I guess that’s not to Nigerians taste as a rule) or nuts etc and no salads.

Although the menu gave the different heat strengths this was not offered so Nigerian hot it was then. I had a wrap which was certainly different mainly because of the lack of salad, and fries were smaller in portion size. The rice that Aderemi and Femi had however looked loads nicer than the packet style savoury rice they serve at home, Nigerians can certainly do rice. No refill on drinks just your usual bottle choice but I guess the water here can’t be used to be mixed on the premises like in the UK, and Femi joked that Nigerians would sit here all day and drink it. I was surprised to see that they shut at nine here, which is apparently usual and allows staff to get home securely.

The evening ended with my own little fashion show, Angela had a beautiful embroidered buba made for me with a head tie (I think I need practice at that one). Also the material that Eniola kindly gave me on my last visit had been made into a long skirt and top by Fumni the lady who had the caesarean last time. Not my usual attire for home but it will make me stand out as much there as I do here!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Tuesday 1st June 2010 (A baby is born)

Happy Birthday Angela who has been blessed with 40 years, a great husband and 3 gorgeous children, congratulations!

Well after the heaviest rains I can remember and a storm that was relentless, the generator went off at midnight and darkness fell. Ok any one in England rarely experiences total black out, not being able to see your hand in front of your face, but that’s what it was. Although I couldn’t see I could however feel (maybe my imagination in part) the gnats were biting even though I sprayed my room and could hardly breathe myself, they still came.

After a pretty hot, sweaty sleepless night with no NEPA I received a text at 7.30 to say I will be picked up at nine. Not wanting to fall back asleep I got up and showered in an attempt to wake up. The driver on African time turned up at 10.30, NEPA turned up at 10.15, just in time for me to leave. I gratefully sat in an air conditioned car and the traffic was light and we arrived at Mafoluku within about 15 minutes, to a NEPA free clinic. I am certainly being forced to experience true Nigeria whether I want to or not.

I thought the roads would be bad after last night’s downpour but the areas we drove through were fairly clear of water. The one area that was affected slightly had LAWMA scooping up the mud from the drain sites in the road in an attempt to drain the water away. All credit to the people, most of whom appear to be women, they work hard by the road sides with brooms, dust pan and brushes to improve the look of Lagos, hard work and probably not much pay.

We arrived at Mafoluku and all was quiet, I sat in the office and sorted out some things with Femi and Mr Dee. Femi and I then went to the UBA (United Bank of Africa) to draw out money for wages to pay the staff. Femi prides himself that no matter what, the girls always get paid monthly, regardless of his own finances, a rare thing it seems here. The bank is very different to what I’m used to seeing. Firstly you enter the building via a tardis type doorway one at a time, as the door behind closes the door in front opens, to prevent robberies I assume. Inside there is organised (I’m sure) chaos, cheques are still the norm, lots of paper is still used, broken filing cabinets crammed with files, extension leads and hanging wire everywhere that is typical from the streets to shops to homes. The queue was long and I sat and watched while waiting, finished we entered the tardis again to get out.

After exchanging more pounds for Naira with my airport friend we received a call from Mr Dee saying someone had turned up at the clinic in labour. So we made our way back. On arrival back it became apparent that this woman only spoke French (my poor French was better than everyone else’s). She had just arrived from Niger Republic (a French speaking country just above Nigeria) into the country and had only one episode of antenatal care at 23 weeks which included a scan report (scrap of paper, this ironically is all too often how we see Nigerians in the UK). From the scan we deduced she was around 41 weeks and 4 days and her observations (BP, urine, pulse, fetal heart rate) were all ok. Femi examined her and she was certainly in labour (around 6-7cm to those that understand). She is the sister-in-law of the woman whose son Femi delivered on his return to Nigeria and also a second child recently.

We admitted her to the upstairs ward and I observed whilst a lot of people ran around. The last time I was here I wrote protocols for delivery far less in depth than those back in the UK but trying to improve what the Nurses and assistants already do. To my surprise they all needed constant reminders on what to do. They only monitored contractions and didn’t record strength or length of each one. They were asked to record the fetal heart rate every half an hour and I had to constantly remind them to listen in with the sonic aid. Thankfully all was going well. I encouraged the woman to get up and mobilise and to drink fluids, Femi said to them to give her water at least every 15 minutes as it was so hot with NEPA down.

Suddenly the nurses called out and we went in grabbed our gloves and the baby's head was descending beautifully. Although the woman's pushing was erratic and she was doing her own thing, it worked and the head crowned and seconds later a beautiful baby girl was delivered, no pain relief, no tears, she did very well. The baby was taken to another bed where we dried her off and I prevented them from routinely suctioning the baby’s nose and throat, although later she was a little snuffly and Femi asked that her nose was cleared.

Here they oil the baby pretty much immediately, then after measuring head and length (by holding the baby by the legs and hanging her upside down to my horror), they weighed her (3.1kg about 6lb 8oz). After this they then bathed her in soapy water, welcome to Lagos little one! The baby wasn’t encouraged to have skin to skin contact or breast feed, this probably will not happen for a while, they were not that keen to attach baby too soon the last time I was here. Practices here are so very different to what I am used to and it is very difficult to watch and not want to jump in and change so much, but we had a safe delivery and all was well. I was able to watch over and guide towards change in some areas, but at the end of the day I go back to the UK and they stay here and do what they think is best. It was great to have the delivery but it also saddens me to see how outdated and under trained they are. This is why help is needed to bring healthcare up to developed countries standards.

Shortly after this I had to make my way home, through the rush hour in the lovely Mr Dee’s car. So after being in the heat all night then all day, then in the car whose window won’t open and has no air con for a slow hour’s drive, I was disappointed to find no electric at home. I smiled and asked Mama to put on the generator as it was getting dark and I needed a cool shower like never before.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Monday 31st May 2010

Today is a public holiday here in Lagos as well as back in the UK. It was a slow start all round today, even the children didn’t rise so early, and no knocks on the door. I got up, showered, had my cornflakes and mango, and eventually when the children realised I was up they all came in one by one. They clamber all over my bed and seem to enjoy wrapping themselves in my cover (especially Sola). The other thing they want is to press buttons on my computer, this I have had to be strict about as they do just press which is a pain when I’m in the middle of anything, so my rules are Do Not Touch!

As distraction from my netbook I went outside with them and watched them crash on their bikes for a while, they seem to get the most fun by taking the bikes indoors and then falling down the large front step and crashing into the car. Bolu was wearing her new Hello Kitty bow in her hair that she proudly told she received from the children’s party at church.

The family all then went out and I sat outside with Nike (the dog) who was now tied up as punishment for the bin episode yesterday. I watched as the red faced lizard ran along the top of the wall dodging the barbed wire and I flapped to get the flies off me, there are so many here. I am feeling quite homesick today and wishing I was going home to see my family, now the children’s day party is over, and with nothing major now planned, the clinic seems quiet, and there seems little reason for me to be here.

Soon Femi arrived with his assistant Fumni, as we were going to Festac to pay another visit to Gloria before I leave. The traffic was slightly reduced again today due to the holiday I guess. As we drove along we suddenly passed a taxi (one of the yellow mini buses built to carry about 8 people usually seen with several more crammed in). It had stopped in the middle of the road with its wheel literally fallen off (don’t think it had passed an MOT recently). All the women passengers were standing on the blocks in centre of the roads, obviously paid for their ride but going nowhere. There seems to be quite a lot of burnt out or smashed vehicles dotted along the road sides, cars, taxis and lorries.

I can’t help but notice people’s shoes as we drive along especially the men’s, I don’t think they worry too much about shoe sizes as a rule here. Many I notice are either too small and their feet hang over the edges whether sandals or even sometimes actual shoes with the back worn over, whilst others are too big and they look like flippers. I guess money dictates what they have and what’s available to them, the ‘shoe shops’ as with most shops tend to be small stalls with a selection of several items, not a cellar full of different sizes.

We arrived at Gloria’s house where the neighbour’s chickens were running around with the pigeons all pecking for food. It appears that chickens and goats run around Lagos much like they would in a farm, they just roam about, I assume people know which ones belong to whom. We stayed and had drinks, chatted for a while then made our way back, I was glad to see Gloria before heading back to the UK.

As we were going we grabbed a snack from a street seller, fried yam and akara with a dollop of a salsa type dressing and a nice bit of chewy goat skin thrown in. I declined the goat skin as when I say chewy, I mean really rubbery, Femi enjoyed it though.

There is a river that is crossed to get to Festac and on the opposite bank I noticed as we were heading back were loads of tin roofed huts/houses all looking precariously like they were about to fall into the river. Many of the rivers that we pass (and there are many in Lagos as its built around lagoons) are sadly full of rubbish and must be extremely polluted. It seems that although Lagos State is making a noticeable effort in clearing up the streets, it has yet to look at the waterways, some are certainly loads worse than others but all are affected. This in turn must affect the health of people as well as wildlife.

On our drive back we witnessed another victim of poor vehicle maintenance. A huge lorry laden with its goods had completely snapped in half down the centre, the middle of it was touching the floor. These things very rarely just happen and not if they have been well maintained and not over loaded. We looked in amazement and both just laughed ‘only in Nigeria’.

I returned home and when the others got in Angela prepared food, fried chicken and turkey (which is always chopped into small potions never cooked whole and sliced). Angela also prepared Amala, which I finally saw how it was made, from yam flour and water stirred and stirred into play dough consistency and turns a grey colour (there may have been more to it than that). This was served with a bean sauce and another hot sauce all of which I can’t remember the names of.

The whole of the evening was filled with the sound of torrential rain, I came in from the garden about five o’clock because it started to spit. By eight we had thunder, lightning and this continued on and on. I wonder what the roads will be like tomorrow as many were flooded today with just showers. Many of the roads have been laid without much if any drainage, it’s a good job the cars seem to be diesel and not petrol, at least they stand half a chance through the roads of river. I also wonder how it affects all those people in those poorly put together buildings, the disabled men scooting around on those skateboards, and all the street workers trying to make their living.