Wish for Africa Foundation


Friday, 29 May 2009

The end of another week! Friday 29th

Today in Nigeria is a bank holiday, Democracy day and its ten years since Nigeria became a democratic state. For me, today I was honoured to have been invited to a wedding this was the lovely Gloria’s sisters, Angela and her partner Damola.

I was picked up after dressing in my tailor made top, made from a typical Nigerian style print. Femi was adorned in the same print with matching trousers (very smart too!). We were going to an area that was new to me, an area called Festac. Femi explained how 30 years ago that the Naija government built this huge housing estate with houses, flats etc. Basically (excuse me if I get some of this wrong) they held a grand festival and housed many people from many nations in these properties.

When the party had finished the buildings were empty and so they decided to hold a sort of lottery and who ever won, got the property free of charge! So thousands of people received housing for the cost of the ‘ticket’. Amazing! The only sad thing about this is although these people benefited from this hugely, it could have been thought through maybe and if people had received low cost housing this money could have been ploughed back into making more and many more may have benefited.

As we made our way towards Festac we took another road that I had not been along before, this appeared to be truck world. For miles along there loads and loads of trucks and here they are the huge American style ones. There were also the usual large potholes that hadn’t yet been repairs some taking up half the road. We passed a man with a goat hung around his neck, obviously about to have dinner, maybe goat pepper soup!

We arrived at Festac It looked very different from any other places we have visited, many more flats or tenant type buildings, although plenty of these were in need of painting and were scruffy much of the area was generally tidier and less derelict than many we had been to. Glorias father I believe was one of these ‘lucky winners’ and live in a kind of cul-de-sac, each road had a number rather than a name. This was a tidy road and in the better end of town, with what appeared quite big houses.

Today for the wedding there were canopies outside and inside the garden. The first part of the wedding which is the traditional part was to take place at the house. It was bright and colourful, the brides family and friends tended to wear beige, gold and browns while the grooms side wore turquoise blue. Everyone looked stunning in their traditional clothing and the ladies with their spectacular head ties.

The ceremony is quite long with lots of acts, starting with the groom lying on the floor begging the bride’s parents to let him marry their daughter. After a while they announce the bride is coming out but the first two times it is a fake bride and the groom has to pay the women to take her away. Eventually the bride comes out and meets him and he pays to take her. Lots of prayers are said and lots of money changes hands. At one point a bowl of Kola nuts is passed around, this is a stimulant that is chewed and swallowed, I tried it but it was so bitter I can’t say I enjoyed it .The groom offers her gifts such as food, yam sometimes a goat and a bible, the bride always takes the bible.

We then eat pounded yam that I watched being pounded earlier, cat fish, beef or goat and a spinach type dish that was all nice. Once that was eaten we made our way to the church for the blessing and the white wedding. This was at the Church of the Pentecost a large slightly more traditional church than the others I’ve been to here, with pews and an organ. I was asked to cover my head in a scarf as all women were expected to (know I should have got a head tie to wear!).

In part the service was similar to what we would be used to, hymns, prayers etc, but the bride and groom do plenty of dancing which is great fun to see. Then there was an offering the whole church (there must have been at least 200 or more) danced down the aisle and placed money in the big bowl and then singing and dancing went back up the side to their seats. This was so cool! Such fun and everyone was so happy and enjoyed it. Then the bride and groom went with collection bags up and down the aisle dancing, singing and collecting for the women’s association.

This was then followed by the reception which was held in a hall down the road. It was crammed with people, not the 50 to the sit down we do. It was who ever turns up gets fed and is welcomed. A comedian hosted the evening, Femi found him very funny, but unfortunately these jokes were wasted on me as I only caught the odd word. Again we ate this time Moi moi, jollof and fried rice and a piece of chicken. Drinks were flowing for everyone, the generosity at these weddings are amazing. The couple then cut the cake and again tradition is that the bride has to feed some to her husband and then she gives him wine. They don’t tend to give gifts to the couple but they get the couple up dancing (Nigerians certainly can move!) and they through money at them and place it on there foreheads (sweep, I believe it was called).

This was a fantastic day and it felt a real privilege to have been allowed and accepted to be part of it. I wish Angela and Demola a very happy and fulfilling life together and long may they be blessed. This will be one of my lasting memories of Nigeria (of which there is many).

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Time flies....Thursday 28th

Today we had an appointment at Radio Nigeria, in Ikoyi, Lagos. This wasn’t the early start of the previous shows, so no rush to get up. I was picked up by Femi at around 11.00, also in the car was Ken, an acquaintance of Femi’s that worked at the station. Ken said he knew of me and when I asked how, he said he ad seen me at church the first week I came.

We travelled across the 3rd Mainland bridge which when we checked on the milometer in the car was over 10 km in length (I believe one of if not the largest bridge in Africa). On our right as we drove across (and driving is on the right here) is where the stilted houses are and the fishermen were out in there boats catching the local (fat) fish. Also we can see a University as we get to Lagos Island and a large saw mill can also be seen below.

As we pulled off the main road to go to Ikoyi we went through a market which was heaving with people all going about there business, in the usual hustle and bustle way. Every where you look are Okada, Tuk-tuks, taxis, buses and the average driver all juggling and aiming for what is their spot on the road. No rules of the road, you can under or over take, pull out at traffic to make them give way to you, pull over any where you fancy, turn any where, park anywhere, you have the right of way at all times. This is driving in Lagos.

We eventually arrive at Radio Nigeria, which has large premises, with several buildings. We are taken up to the office of Funke Treasure Durodola the broadcaster that we will be interviewed by. As we sit and chat she gets quite excited about the River State Medical Mission, that Femi organized in April this year. This was a project that Femi orchestrated to bring multi-skilled Nigerians (Doctors, Midwives, Nurses etc) working abroad to provide a week of free medical consultation, treatment and operations, in six medical centers in six days, Around 800 people were seen and over 100 operations were performed.

This program that we were doing unlike the others was not going to be live. It’s a program called Nigerian pride and it is aired across Nigeria on Tuesdays at 17.30. It will also be linked to their website http://www.radionigeria.net/. Funke decided to do the interview as two separate shows, the first meeting Femi and discussing River State and how Femi has come back to his home land. The second, was both of us, discussing my involvement with the charity and how things can be improved and to encourage others to give time, skills or money to help such a venture. We were interviewed for about an hour in total so it could be cut into the two shows.

Whilst there we were also asked if we could be interviewed by another broadcaster Fabian Anawo, who does a news type program and he wanted to speak to us. As he wasn’t quite ready we popped into the staff canteen to grab a drink and a bite to eat. This is when you think to yourself, I bet the canteen at Radio one isn’t as tatty and shabby as this. As Femi pointed out its about expectations, in England as in many countries we expect and demand certain standards, here they are used to the way things are and often know no different, so put up with things as they are.

While there we enjoyed Jollof rice with fish (mackerel I think) and sauce, with plantain (I say we, but I didn’t want anything but Femi who now appears to know me too well got enough for 2 and an extra spoon, so I tucked in to his dinner!). He also picked up Puff puff for me to try, this turned out to be like small donuts that are freshly made and not too sweet, I liked these too!

After lunch we went back into the studio and chatted with Fabian about the issues that could be improved about Nigerian health care. What I was doing specifically, how this small thing can help, what has been my approach and how will I enforce changes. This interviewer was much more interrogative then the others, but I feel we got our point and our passion across. Remaining positive that Nigeria has got potential and there is certainly hope for its future especially if enough people make these small drops eventually change will be made and seen.

By the time we had finished here it was getting on to about 16.00 and we new the traffic would soon start to increase. So we headed off home. We called into the medical centre to see if my top had been made for the wedding tomorrow. Before leaving I picked up some Piriton as I have been bitten a lot suddenly and my arms were driving me mad with itching. My top wasn’t ready so we headed back to my hotel via the money man at the airport, who now says he likes me (think he just likes my money!). This old man on his Vespa has become quite familiar to me now as I wave at him through the crowd to grab his attention. I returned to my hotel and later that evening Funmi (one of the staff at the center) came over on an Okada to bring my top that was finally finish and fitted perfectly.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Wednesday 27th already!

Today had another early start, this morning we had to return to Ketu, this time to appear on a morning TV show, as a result of yesterdays radio show. I nervously got ready and I felt slightly more anticipation about this as live TV is less forgiving than a radio show. Femi picked me up at about 07.30, and on the drive to Ketu we discussed the points that we wanted to try and get across, including the need for donations to sustain the charity and to help it grow.

When we arrived we were greeted by the make-up artist, who proceeded to powder our faces ready for the studio lighting (even Femi benefited from a touch of make up!). It is children’s day here in Nigeria and we were linked to this theme. The presenter welcomed us and asked many questions, about my trip, how I was finding Nigeria, what are then main issues I have noticed regarding health, and how could the government improve things in Nigeria. To this last question I felt I had to reply with the fact that I am not a politician and do not know enough about these issues to answer and I added that I would hope to come back to the country so thought it best not to get on my soap box, potentially up setting the government.

Our slot went on for about 20mins and in this time Femi and I was able to get across quiet a bit of information with regards to Wish for Africa and the future plans for Optimal Medical Centres. We were able to mention certain things that would make an immediate difference such as a portable scanner, generators, descent medical supplies/equipment, text books, skilled people to come and share there knowledge and train staff. I pointed out that many people can do something. If I am capable of doing this with odds stacked against me such as newly qualified, work commitments, family, white, female etc then others could too, each offering what ever gift the have.

After this we headed again to the clinic in Ketu, today was antenatal clinic, so I went in with Dr Yussuf to observe and question practices. I also give them a sonic aid to be used within this clinic and demonstrated its use. It soon became apparent how much they don’t do, that we do in the Uk, and the primary reason was cost that would have to be passed on to the patient. In this and other deprived areas people just can’t afford the additional cost of things that are routinely done back home. Scans are rarely done unless true indication (no dating or anomaly scans). Blood is tested for HIV and Hep B but if they don’t routinely do full blood counts. At this clinic routine urine testing with a dip stick is not done again due to increasing the cost. Although folic acid and iron is given to all, assuming that most have poor diets and will require it. From the world health organisations recommendation all women receive prophylactic malaria which payment for medication is subsidised.

I was able to have an immediate influence on encouraging them to measure the fundal height (routinely women are measured from top of there pubic bone to where the top of the womb is felt roughly weeks = centimetres, so if you were 28weeks you’d measure 28cms +/- 2/3cms). They just do a visual inspection and use fingers which is a good skill to keep but it’s simple enough to do both and allows for accuracy in detecting too much or too little growth.

The women also liked the fact that they could also hear the heat beat when we used the sonic aids. One woman who had three previous miscarriages possibly due to her being Rh neg (blood group) and not receiving anti D in her first pregnancy (something that helps your body stop building up antibodies and potentially causing problems with future pregnancies). When I found the heart beat that although she was about 32 weeks pregnant she had not heard before, she gave a huge smile and tears came to her eyes. Something else fairly simple that we take for grated in the UK.

Back to the Anti D issue, this is something that is offered to all women that have a negative blood group in the UK, during their pregnancy and if the baby is a positive blood group they will be given it again after delivery. If this woman had wanted it here, she enquired to the cost at the pharmacist and it was between 10-12,000 naira (about £40-45). An average weekly wage in this area is probably about £10! The minimum wage here is 5000 naira a month (£20) but this as with most things is not well enforced.

This woman’s case also lead us into discussion on her delivery, she had previously had a caesarean section but (probably due to cost again) was keen to have a normal delivery. We spoke about how she would have to be watched (I hesitate to say monitored!) and not be allowed too long a labour this time. This allowed me to point out the lack of consistency in their paperwork with regards to the recording of times when things occur and the potential indications for these omissions. Dr Yussuf was very receptive of my comments and suggestions, he was also happy to show his staff how to measure women and how to use the sonic aid etc.

My evening ended in the restaurant of my hotel, a nice quiet meal I thought. Well Manchester United v Barcelona on the tele and a room full of very excited men. All shouting for Man Utd and of course as an avid fan myself I couldn’t but join in! Disappointed by the score I headed up to my room. I received a text from Michelle, our mid week church cell group were meeting at hers. This meant only one thing skype cell, which was great as friends from China are heading back this week and another friend is going to Russia for a week so a great opportunity to pray and be part of home. Thanks all x.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A huge THANK YOU!!!

I would like to say a huge thank you to all that have kindly donated money for me to spend on my trip. Because of the generosity of so many friends in the UK and to ChiChi Dike in the USA, it was possible for me to bless the Adogoke family.

The Adogoke family recently had a beautiful baby girl by caesarean section here at Optimal Medical Centre Mafoluku. The cost of this treatment although minimal by UK/USA standards and even Nigerian standards, for the family it would have taken a long time to complete the payment. This has been a real blessing for them and a weight lifted.

This week I also opened the boxes of donated goods and goods purchased with donated money that I had shipped over from the UK. Shipping itself as I discovered is a costly procedure. Thanks to Oando freight services, which kindly collected and packaged for free and reduced the price per kilo the cost was also covered by donated money.

As we unpacked all the clothes, toys, blankets, pens, medical equipment, everyone here was amazed at the generosity that had been shown. Plans are being made to have a children’s party to give the children’s clothes and toys out.

Also donated were 3 sonic aids from dopplerhire.co.uk a company from Wales that just so kindly took on the spirit of the cause from a chance email I sent them. These have been very useful and very well received here.

All this has only been made possible because so many of you cared enough to give money or items and I can truly say from seeing the faces of people here, it has made a big difference.

So from Me Jo Watts, Dr Femi Olaleye, the staff and many people in Lagos who have or will benefit in some way by your actions THANK YOU!

It's Tuesday 26th here at Radio Continental 102.3fm!

An early start this morning, well at least for me, Femi was meant to pick me up by 07.30. It was his turn to be late and struggle to get up (at least it’s not just me). We were heading to Ketu to appear on the morning breakfast show of Mr Femi Sowoolu, at Radio Continental 102.3fm. I was slightly nervous as I’m not one for public speaking (no really I’m not!). As we arrived Femi Sowoolu was outside to meet us, he recognised me from facebook (and maybe due to the fact I was the only white woman in the car park). Femi had seen the ‘event’ on facebook (for those not on facebook an event is a way of advertising, something that you are doing or involved in, this was ‘Watts going to Nigeria’) and had contacted me to invite me onto his show.

We received a warm welcome and was shown inside to a board room, and waited to be called for our slot in the programme. Someone came and got us and we headed towards the studio, we sat down and mikes were adjusted and we got straight into business. Femi was very kind and gentle with me and welcomed me to Nigeria and gave an introduction to who I was and why I’m here. He went on to ask if I was enjoying my stay, had I been worried or nervous about my trip, if my family had concerns, what did I think of the people, what did I think about the state of health here etc. He then spoke about the charity and about how it came about with Dr Femi. Who was obviously able to go into more detailed answered than me about the Wish for Africa charity.

We then had several callers asking questions and all being very generous with their praise towards us. The callers were thankfully answered by Dr Femi with the odd grunt of agreement from me. Someone asked how they could contact wish for Africa so Femi gave his mobile number, web site and email details. By the time the show was over and we had got into the car, there were already several missed calls.

This broad casting company is still fairly new but also does TV as well as radio, this is something that Femi had hoped to get into. He had previously had a show on a Nigerian channel in London and did a Doctors chat programme, inviting people along to talk about issues and current events etc. It was left that we may be invited back for a TV slot, but also seemed promising for the future and Femi’s plans. After our ‘five minutes of fame’ we headed back to the reality of why we are here, the clinic in Ketu.

Unfortunately the doctor was not there as it was a quiet day but we spoke to the staff and I pick out three sets of notes to audit. These notes as with the ones from Mafoluku were not up the UK standards and the problems I could see were similar in both areas. I made a few notes and am in the process of writing some guidelines for them to adhere to, to help improve there practice. This is not an easy or pleasant task as I don’t enjoy being negative about what people do. The issue is there is not a huge amount to be positive about, but too much change at once will not go down well, so I have to be choosy on what changes I ask them to make and at what pace new practices are encouraged.

Whilst we were there a couple of patients came in to see the Doctor, as he wasn’t there Dr Femi saw them as to not waste their journey. I sat in on the consultation and was even asked for my opinions (I think they thought that I was a Doctor too! even though I had been introduced as a midwife from the UK). One of the problems with note keeping became apparent in these general practise notes (these were not obstetric patients), highlighting to general bad practice of not recording details efficiently. This didn’t lead to any serious problem, but this patient had to be asked to return when the resident GP was there, assuming he would be able to recall from memory the omitted details.

The problem in part is due to the fact, you often don’t know you don’t know something until you’re shown it or taught it. As a student some mentors would get annoyed with you if you didn’t do or write certain things, I would stand confused at why they would expect me to realise things that were alien to me, that I hadn’t been shown. This is the same sort of thing on a larger scale. If no one has pointed out the importance of doing something or the possible consequences of omitting information, why would they know? If things are not audited or poor outcomes are not investigated and lessons learned from them, or they have just been ‘lucky’ and had no repercussions, why should they feel practice needs alteration?

These are just a few of the issues that I need wisdom on how to approach, so if anyone reading this wishes to pray for specific things please add this to your pray list!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Week 3 - Monday 25th

Thunder storms and heavy rain over night, with this came more power cuts meaning the air con would keep going off and the heat would rise. So another disturbed sleep, I decided to get up assuming it was around 8-9 and looked at my phone to see it was 10.45! I was meant to be up and out between 10 and 11….oh well!

I tried to skype home as promised before I had left this morning, but no sooner had I got through, NEPA (electric supplier) went down again, no electric, no internet, no skype! I tried to send a text to relay the news and no phone use either, but there is no point in getting frustrated as this is what it’s like here every day.

I made my way over to the medical centre the pot holes in the roads this morning were full of water after last nights rain. Huge puddles waiting for the sun to come and dry them up. It was still overcast and grey with this tends to come a bit of wind so it feels slightly cooler.
When I got to the centre I helped the girls open the second of the large boxes shipped over from the UK with donated goods in. We sorted them into toys, child, adult clothes etc had the photo shot and put them into bags. Everyone was amazed and happy with the amount of things that had kindly been donated or purchased with donated money. A couple of teddies were selected form Fumni’s new baby and little girl and a toy was also given to one of the nurses for her little girl who is 4.

Suddenly I realised that a few items were missing, that had been unpacked on Saturday. Everyone began to search for them, but they could not be found. It was thought that someone had taken them, but I couldn’t believe any of the staff would have done that. I felt terrible that I brought items and from this we were standing accusing someone of stealing. I prayed that they would turn up and the negative feeling would be relieved. One of the nurses called in to say she had taken them home for safe keeping after we had gone out on Saturday as she didn’t like to leave them around in case some one took them. Relief was felt all around to know that they had not been stolen after all.

Later that afternoon the staff came and found me, as they thought I might be bored. I went downstairs and they gave me lessons in Yoruba, as I tried to pronounce simple phrases, we laughed and any small tensions that were left had lifted. I finally felt accepted by them and they cease to see me as a threat in anyway .My favourite phrase I think is “mofe jo” I want to dance. I then went and got my netbook and we viewed the photos I had taken over the past two weeks.

Mr Adegoke (the husband of Fumni who had the baby) came to measure me up, as he is making me a top to wear to a wedding at the weekend (he is a tailor and Femi had some traditional material). I had decided that with some of the money which had so generously been donated by friends in the UK and by ChiChi Dike from the USA, to settle the balance from the caesarean section. This was no huge amount by USA/UK standards but to this family it is a great weight lifted off their shoulders and would probably otherwise had taken them ages to have settled the bill. He was completely surprised and over the moon. So thank you all those that gave which allowed me to bless this family. I also gave him the teddies and baby toys for the baby and her big sister, which I’m sure they will be equally as thrilled with.

I returned to the hotel when my lift had come to get me. The weather had been overcast all day so the puddles had not dried up, everywhere was still very wet. As they dropped me off I said “oshe gan” thank you very much. He laughed, so I asked if I had said it correctly and he smiled and said yes!

I decided to go down to dinner after speaking to Tony and Beth on the phone due to the fact that the internet wasn’t working (that’s unusual!). I asked for chicken pepper soup (and chips not very Nigeria but felt yam and riced out!), when it turned up it was fish pepper soup (lost again in translation?). I usually love fish but had steered away from it after seeing where they fish (ref- previous blog and the sewage from the houses on stilts in the water and the men fishing…fat fish!). Saying this I must say it was nice, not sure what the fish was and there was more than a head which is what I commonly see everywhere. I think that the pepper is hot enough to kill almost anything that crosses its path.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Two weeks down two to go - Sunday 24th

Strange bed and head spinning form the evening before (although not a drop of alcohol passed my lips), not the best sleep ever! I awoke early and started on yesterday’s blog but had to be up and dressed for the church service which commenced at 09.00. Richeal, the hotel receptionist that is a friend of Femi’s kindly called me at 07.30 to make sure I was up as I was concerned I would over sleep. I also had to pack all my things as we were heading back to Mafaluku and my hotel afterwards.

The church we were attending today was Salem International Christian Centre. Another large well attended church, with again far too little room between row for my liking and comfort (but necessary to fit everyone in). Worship commenced with the choir singing and with volume up .I again didn’t know many of the songs sang and again the ones I did know seem to be sung much slower than I used to. I still enjoy the great ‘gospel’ feeling it is uplifting, I just wish I had the word on the screen rather than our faces, but everyone knows the words so I guess they don’t feel the need for the words.

The guest preacher was a Nigerian that lives in Essex. I lost a lot of the meaning of the preach, due to the strong accent and speed and volume, but what I did keep up with I enjoyed. The theme was on obedience to God, something that I feel I am being by coming to Nigeria. This was a good reminder as to why I’m here as half way through the month, I suddenly feel home sick and would like a roast dinner and a strong black filter coffee (one of my vices that I have had to leave behind). This probably isn’t helped by the fact that I hadn’t been in contact with home for a couple of days, due to timing and internet failure.

When the service finished, Femi made his way up to see the Bishop to introduce him to me .He was a very pleasant man, but the fact that we had to go through rooms and people and request to see him surprised me. This is something (religious etiquette) that I struggle with, I am a Christian and respect the Elders and leaders of my church, and thankfully my church doesn’t have this kind of religious requirements. Our Elders hang around chatting with who ever needs to speak to them, they do not place themselves out of reach or make themselves unapproachable. This is something that is however common in a lot of churches and it is by any means just typical or critical of Nigeria. What I did like was that (maybe just as a new comer to this church) I was given a donut, this is something that we are sometimes lacking with at DCC. Saying that I will probably now be expected to purchase some on my return!!

After the service we headed back, but before leaving the Island. We stopped for some food at Tantalizers again. I suddenly felt this overwhelming tiredness and didn’t feel hungry, so just grabbed a meat pie, knowing that I could easily eat back at the hotel should I become hungry later. Then travelling back past the luxury high-rised hotels and the grandeur and the immense amount of work in progress, it’s easy to see why people that only stay on the Island can almost be fooled into thinking that this is more the norm of Lagos and be blinded to the mammoth scale of poverty and deprivation that is a stones throw away.

We hit the long bridge that joins both sides of Lagos together and leave the luxury and wealth behind us and return to Mafaluku. A warm welcome awaits me at my hotel some of the staff are now becoming quiet familiar with me. After my more expensive but substantially smaller room in Lekki, I am pleased to be back on familiar ground. I am disappointed that the internet isn’t working again as I desperately want to chat with home, but after an hour or so I receive a call from reception to be informed that the server is back. I am soon chatting on line to Tony and Beth and reassured that all is well at home and they have been so kindly looked after by another family at my church, so many of who have been such a blessing to them whilst I’ve been away. I think I might just have to get the donuts in on my return after all!

Time for some fun - Saturday 23rd

All work and no play……as they say! Today had been planned to have a break from the medical centre and work. It was also the day of the pink ball, the breast awareness event set up by Genevieve magazine to raise money for the cause.

I was picked up by Femi, with bags packed for the beach and a stay over in Lekki which is on Lagos Island (the nice side of town). To start with me and the girls from the centre got into opening the boxes of donated goods that I collected and shipped over. This was while Femi saw some patients that had turned up to see a doctor out of surgery times, with no doctor in today, Femi sorted them on before we got on our way.

We headed for the airport to exchange some money, passing on the way the Lagos equivalent to DFS, ten or more individual units next to each other with leather suites for sale. I asked why they tend to sell the same things in the right next to one another, Femi said this was because if you need a certain thing you know which area to go to, people can’t or don’t want to go from area to area as we tend to do.

When we got to the airport and exchanged our money, on the black-market as this is seen as the norm here, and you get a better rate of exchange (apparently both official and black-market rates are published in the papers). Femi offered me Kilishi, pieces of beef that are peppered, and then left in the sun to dry (all those that know me well, will I’m sure be amazed that I’d eat a piece of meat that had been left on a table out in the sun to go dry, what about hygiene, sell by dates and flies!). As determined to try everything, I tried it and it was really nice, a strong meaty taste and very spicy and hot. So far my stomach has been ok and not too affected by what and where I’ve eaten.

We then headed for Lagos Island, stopping by to pick up our tickets. Then taking a look at the beach here, which has been redeveloped with a promenade and looked very nice until you looked into the sea, unfortunately it didn’t appear clean, lots of waste floating in it. We headed for our hotel and put our bags into our rooms. This area is full of big hotels and lots of money, although evident all around is the contrast of poverty. Immediately out my room window I could see and run down shed type building with people living in it.

After eating in Tantalizers another Nigerian food chain, we headed towards a beach where Femi knew the sea would be cleaner. As we drove along a 20 kilometre stretch of road we passed huge complexes being built, walled housing estates again showing there is obviously great wealth coming to this area. We passed several large banks, churches, schools and shopping malls. Scattered around these, I suspect almost invisible to their wealthy neighbours was thousands of these shed like buildings worthy of demolition, all filled with thousands of people ( to get an idea of how many people I see daily here, picture some shopping centre like Bluewater at Christmas).

We detoured off the road to Lekowe, along unmade roads to a plot of land that, Femi hopes to one day build another medical centre on. The area had lots of unfinished properties and as with all Femi’s clinic not in the nicest part of town. The excitement obvious on his face at the thought of many low cost affordable, good standard clinics available to people that deserve better than they have in a country that appears not to care for its lower class citizen. Certainly no government support, no councils houses, no social benefits, no free health care.

Then we headed for Eleko beach, as we drove down a long road we came to a barrier (a rope across the road) the men insisted they worked for the government and we had to pay money to head for the beach, on request for a receipt, they refused to give one (probably due to the fact that they didn’t work for anyone other than themselves). A few hundred meters further on and another barrier this time a receipt was offered and we had to pay again.

There in front of me was miles of beautiful fine sand and as I found out lovely warm Atlantic sea, palm trees. This could rival any beach I have been on, although like so much here neglected there was rubbish, bottles, cans etc by the load full all along as far as you could see. Wake up Nigeria you’re your sitting on a gold mine, income from tourism is huge!

The sea was strong and as you walked in the waves swept you off your feet, but it was beautifully warm. I sat and watch as two young boys entertained me with the acrobatic display, they could make any gymnastic team given the opportunity, with their breath taking back flips etc. Not normally one to buy ‘souvenirs’, I couldn’t resist the wooden Okada and the wooden doctor and midwife checking a pregnant woman, they made me laugh…..Beth wanted a present!!! I then suddenly focused in on the sand to notice loads of tiny crabs shooting about at great speed. The boys obliged and caught one to show me in greater detail. At the end of the afternoon they deserved their few Naira for keeping me amused, which of course is what they had been hoping for.

Back at the hotel, I rushed to get ready for the Pink Ball (in aid of breast cancer awareness) I only had forty minutes or so and was very sandy and salty from the beach. I realised my room was in darkness the lights were not working (only here!). It didn’t appear that anything was going to be sorted so I showered in the dark, then got dressed and as the TV worked I managed to put my makeup on by the light from that, regularly changing channels when the programme went dark. Ready at last cinders and prince charming left for the ball.

What a glamorous affair men looking handsome and women, beautiful in some stunning dresses (Femi also scrubbed up well in his tux and dickey!). The d├ęcor of the room and tables was very well done and quiet spectacular, all with a pink hue. Speeches were made and an auction for a watch went for 800,000 Naira (about £3200), donations were pledged. Music played, food was eaten, a fashion show and a special performance by an ex-governor Donald Duke and his band, which got everyone up on their feet. We finally left at gone 01.30 and after meeting many people Doctors, comedians, motivational speakers and many more, whose name I will not even attempt to remember. It was an evening that I will surely remember.

Friday, 22 May 2009

It's friday 22nd

Today started with a lay in, no rush to head over to the medical centre as nothing was planned for today, I leisurely got showered and ready, decided against breakfast, really not eating as much here. I’m not sure if it’s due to the food being filling or the heat suppressing my appetite. What I do have I generally enjoy.

My lift was called and we made our way through the usual noise and traffic of the morning rush. Past the men and women selling there newspapers, yams, rice, past the people tending there ‘garden centres’. Work seems to start early here, probably before the sun gets too hot (but then they are there working all day), or just that they are hard workers.

As I was dropped off and walked up to the centre I had my usual welcomes from the men at the entrance to the street. I walked into the centre which was in darkness, NEPA was down again. As my eyes adjusted I walked up an already darkened corridor past the consulting room to the stairs at the far end of the building. These stairs always fill like a mountain to climb, I think it’s due to the uneven depth of each step, certainly not to there total height, and undoubtedly not helped by the fact that it is always very warm in this area.

I thought the Doctor was out at meetings today and that I would be pottering about at the centre. As I arrived he was still there and suggested I came with him to a meeting, at a small private hospital, at which the owner may be moving away. This was in the area of Dopemu, not too far from where we had been yesterday.

On the way we passed through Akowonjo, Femi told me this area was where he worked before heading to the UK. We was about to pass the old hospital that he worked, Crystal specialist hospital, he decided to call in a pay a flying visit, the first time he had been back since 1995/6. No sooner than we had pulled up on the drive and got out of the car, came screams of excitement from people that remembered him. We went into the very busy hospital and met many people that worked with Femi They obviously had nothing but fond memories of him. Every department we walked into gave out yells of excitement; both men and woman alike were all frilled to see him. I just follow him laughing at all there reactions as he entered the rooms.

I was escorted through to meet the owner, Femi’s mentor and trainer Dr Adeyemi a renowned gynaecologist, Femi fondly recalled him being like a father to him. A lovely man that had a warmth about him and obviously, as with all we met, a soft spot for the charming Dr Olaleye! It felt great to have witnessed and been there to see the genuine affection that they all have for Femi. I see it from the pretty young ladies that I have met whilst here, they often speak highly of him, but knowing and witnessing how charming he can be; I smile and agree with them. This was genuine admiration from colleagues, people he worked with for many years before heading for the UK, this rubber stamped for me the kind of man Dr Femi Olaleye is.

After our short visit and with promises of Femi returning to see them, we headed off to the meeting. The hospital we now entered was large on first impressions, but in contrast to Crystal specialist hospital which was brimming over with people, this was quiet. The owners a man and wife, Doctors politely showed us around and Femi discussed with them he’s business. The rooms which all had potential were tatty and looked hardly used. Something wasn’t working here, a shame when you see what they have in comparison to the clinic in Mafaluku.

On our way back, we looked for roasted plantain and nuts which someone had recommended I tried. Unfortunately no one was cooking these so we settles for roasted corn, something you see a lot of people cooking and selling here in big BBQ type drums. These I was informed by Femi you eat with coconut, a combination that does blend well together I must agree.

Back to my hotel, NEPA was, as is the case numerous times a day, down as I blindly made my way to my room in the darkness of the corridor, until I opened my room and found light from the window. I grab my stuff and headed out to the bar area after spraying myself with the now compulsory insect repellent. I am hardly able to breathe for a few minutes, due to the fumes and smell, and then cringe at the string as I put some on my face. I sat myself in the usual place, able to plug in if needed and if NEPA complies. Whilst catching up with this blog, emails, policies etc and watching the staff going about their business, whilst saying welcome to me, every time they passed by.

On return to my room the internet server was down, unable to contact home, I made my way down to dinner and order a now favourite of mine, rice and sauce with chicken and plantain. This is something that isn’t on the menu but I have learned is available on asking. The sauce is red and hot and delicious, fried plantains if you haven’t tried them are similar in taste to roasted sweet potatoes but look like bananas. I feel the need for a Nigerian take away to open near me when I get home, plenty of the food I’ve tried can easily rival many Indian and Chinese dishes and I’m sure their will be some foods I’ll miss on return to the UK.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Last day of campaign....Thursday 21st

Today was the final day of our breast awareness campaign in the last of the three destinations, Alagbado. So we were to meet at Mafoluku clinic at 09.00. Femi was eating breakfast when I arrived, rice, sauce, meat, yam and egg, all with that lovely Naija kick, I was offered some and accepted. Nigerians seem to have a good hearty breakfast.

We set off with a car full again, this time in the direction of Ikeja to the area of Alagbado. This is an area where a purpose built centre is being constructed, with living accommodation and offices upstairs and wards, treatment rooms, theatre, delivery room downstairs. It will be great when it’s completed and owning a building means that the landlords can not just suddenly increase rents or decide your tenancy has expired, which can be an issue with rented premises. I did ask which room was mine, but not sure I got an answer. As I was shown around by Femi there were people in many of the rooms, I asked if they were the work men’s families but was informed they were squatters and just moved in (hopefully they will move out as swiftly)

On arrival we meet up with the others that had made their way there. We were a much bigger group then on previous days. I think I counted around 17 of us in all. Mr Dee, who has been ill and not well enough to be at work, had made the effort to come, but was obviously still not well, but kindly gave us moral support. It was nice to see him, I hope he is better and around next week.

We had the mandatory photo shot and Femi (Mr Motivator) gave us the team talk. I was distracted by my surroundings (although I had heard it before, so could be forgiven I’m sure), there was a huge palm tree behind us and there were loads of birds going mad on the fruit flapping and tweeting like there was no tomorrow! They were tiny and didn’t show on the photo, but what they lacked in size they made up for in noise. Also to my amusement (again I guess I was alone in this as no one else batted an eyelid) were the amount of lizards scooting around, all different sizes and colours. I must have seen 20-30 as we were walking around (and no it wasn’t the same one following me!). I really wanted to show my excitement and joy of seeing them, but restrained from doing so….hence I’m letting it out now.

The area again is very different from the other two we have visited, but still very deprived, probably more so. On the road where we gave out leaflet the ‘shops’ were all shed type constructions. As appears to be the case everywhere there was again lots of shops all selling small amounts of things, and cooking food. We walked around and spoke to the women handing out leaflets and informing them that the medical centre would be opening in a few weeks.

It never ceases to amaze me how much or how many people can get on an Okada. I didn’t manage to get my camera out in time but one went past (these are not big bikes). On the bike were two children on the front behind the handlebars (about 3-5 years old) three adults and the woman on the back had a baby strapped to her back (as they do here, no pushchairs to be seen). There is a law to wear helmets here, but not everyone does and these weren’t. Something that you just wouldn’t even consider doing in the UK, you have the children taken into care! But quiet the norm here, kids jump on these Okadas to go to school, old and young alike ride on them to get around. I must say I tempted to have a go but I don’t think Femi would be too pleased, and I probably would be terrified. Tony would also moan as I haven’t had my leathers on for years and never get on the back of his bike!

Today was again very hot, by the time we had walked about Alagbado , I had sunburned neck and blisters on my feet ( all together…aarrhhh!). As we were heading back to the ‘construction site’ we took a different route and spoke to some more women. Many of these had little babies or children and we ‘blessed’ several of them, by giving them a few Naira (probably just £1 or £2) but it may have been as much as they’d have made in a day.

We then passed a woman cooking akara balls, these are similar to Indian pakora , Femi decided to put an order in so we could all enjoy a snack, I went with some of the girls to pick them up, and then went to another ‘shop’ to get a crate of drinks for everyone. At this point three more women came over and wanted me to take photo’s of me with them and there children, all quite excited by seeing an Oylibo. (its like being famous lol!).

After eating together and saying our goodbyes, we got back in the car and headed home as we got to the main road the banks with there flashy facades again became evident amongst there run down shabby neighbours. We drove past big yellow buses, that Femi explained had hard metal seats and are like public transport here, he said what they were called but the name escapes me now (I’m sure someone can enlighten us).

On return to Mafaluku I was escorted to a bank by one of Femi’s staff (still not allowed out on my own), I needed to pick up some money (kindly donated by ChiChi Dike from America towards my trip). This was the forth time of trying to get it, either they hadn’t enough dollars, or system was down etc etc. Finally a man who recognised me from church served me (I said how did he notice me….he laughed (I was the only white person there!)) and I was able to get the cash.

Soon after I was picked up by my driver (Sonny, I think) and Mr Solomon and taken back to the hotel. I sat in the outside bar, with plenty of insect spray, after getting bitten yesterday, with my netbook and a cold Smirnoff ice, almost like being on holiday!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Watts happening on Wednesday 20th

Hooray a good night sleep, the lovely guys at the hotel fixed the noisy air-con! Now it’s just normally noisy, lol. Eventually after having a man in my room for an hour…. The internet was back (this I feel is the best use I can make of a man in my room?!). I was able to post yesterday’s blog and even caught Michelle online before retiring to bed.

This morning we are off to Ketu to the 2nd clinic that WFA have involvement in. As I arrived at the clinic later than intended due to my lift and then traffic, I was pleased to find out Femi was also late (at least I wasn’t the only one!).

The journey to Ketu is about a 30 minute ride towards Lagos Island, so we all got into the car and headed off with a sense of excitement amongst the girls. As we arrived in Ketu the traffic was bad, so we went around the side roads to the centre, again another area of obvious poverty, with a different feel to Mafoluku.

It is said that 45- 60% of Nigerians live below the poverty line, from what I can see with my own eyes; I would say it appears far greater than that. Government figures of most things here in Naija don’t have a reputation of being very exact. Even the number of people living in Nigeria is said to be very under estimated.

When we arrived at the medical centre, we received a warm welcome. I met Dr Yussuf and the rest of the staff. The centre was dim and hot as NEPA (the electricity company that in an oil rich country, can not supply all needs at once, so each area takes it in turn!) was off and the air con and fans were not working.

We soon made our way out to the heat of the day, after the now mandatory photo shot and laughter as we all shout CHEESE in unison, we got into groups and hit Ketu to spread the word about breast awareness. People yet again were very receptive to us and many came over to hear and take leaflets.

A lady working at a bank that we saw going in, came running down the road to find us to take more leaflets for her colleagues. Women with small businesses took posters and leaflets to give out. Many see me an oyibo (white) and look and say hello, just for the novelty it feels, but all in good spirit. One group of women said to Femi they wanted to hear me speak, which I happily obliged and then Femi went over it again in Yoruba to make sure they had really got the message.

The ‘market’ stalls were full of many things huge piles of yams, as I was taking photos one man called and posed about to through the yam to the buyer. There were many vegetable stalls as well as material, food, phone cards, water etc, the list is endless and the amount again selling the same things, leave me wondering how they all survive. A man carrying his wears on his head gave me the most wonderful smile and stood in pose wanting me to take his picture too.

In spite of the extreme and poor conditions, almost everyone holds a smile and is full of greetings and many thank God in everything. If Nigerians are poor in monetary terms they are rich in Christ. I hear it, look and see it everywhere on buses, Lorries, cars, shops, even on a plastic garden chair, messages of Gods love. Out of having nothing they learn to depend on God, they go to church on a Sunday and give praise and thanks for the little they have got. We (UK) on the other hand have plenty and many of us don’t feel as if we need God, we don’t need His help and don’t need to thank Him for things that we feel are rightly ours. As I go to church on Sundays my daughter thinks that everyone else travelling alone is also going to church, sadly the majority of them are probably not.

As we headed back to the centre all our leaflets gone and the sweat dripping from us in the midday heat. It’s hard not to notice that amongst all the decaying run down buildings, the clean manicured frontages of the banks, guards on every entrance. This just goes to show that there certainly is money here in Naija, but whilst the rich get richer, the poor carry on scraping by.

On arrival to the centre the others were already there waiting for our return. Stories were shared of how well it had gone, as once again we posed for photos. A group of young school girls stood and watched us giggling, as we finished, I asked if they wanted to me take their picture, with screams of excitement they stood and smiled and then ran off jumping and laughing down the road. It’s amazing how you can find such satisfaction and beauty in the simplest of things.

We headed home through the traffic and chaos that is such a buzz. My lift to the hotel was waiting on my return to Mafoluku. The hotel manager Mr Solomon was there to greet me, he has been ill but it was good to see that he is on the mend. On the way back we stopped so I could purchase some fruit to my delight, a bunch of bananas that looked a little over ripe but I must say are tastier than any at home! Pineapple, mango, water melon and apples were also picked up.

At the hotel my room was in darkness and hot as NEPA was down and the generator wasn’t running. Rather than sit it hot darkness, I went outside and sat in the bar and worked, when the generator cranked up, I also had wireless internet. I think I might make a habit of this it’s nicer than sitting in my room all the time!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Out and about, it's Tuesday 19th

Yet another bad night’s sleep this time due to the air-con unit insisting on clonking rather loudly. I can shut off from the usual noise it makes but this loud sound even continued when I turned it off. Well the only good thing about this was that at 02.30 in the morning photos can be loaded onto facebook in a flash even in Naija! Always look on the bright side, lol.

Today was the first day of the Optimal Medical Centre breast cancer awareness campaign. Several staff members and others enrolled to help met at the centre at 09.00, and had a group discussion about what was expected from the team. We also talked about how we were to go about introducing ourselves and how much information we needed to give etc. The leaflets were distributed amongst us, along with posters, bookmarks and credit card sized information.

The locally produce magazine Genevieve is running a’ pink ball’ this weekend in aid of breast awareness and has been also promoting awareness of self examination, and the importance of checking your own breasts, noticing any changes and then acting on this by consulting medical advise. This is something that all women regardless of age, culture, or social standing should be informed about. Our leaflet handout campaign has been organised in conjunction with this, and aimed at the poorer end of society in the areas at which the centres are based.

Teams of threes went out and just walked up to the woman of Mafulku, introducing ourselves from OMC and told them briefly the importance of self examination and gave the leaflets. All the woman were keen to listen and ask questions, those that were in shops were asked to put up posters, which all were happy to do. The staff of OMC seemed to really enjoy the event too, they really got into it and did very well. It gave great opportunity to converse and feel part of the local community. Even men were asking for leaflets to give to there wives and young girls were encouraged to start the habit early and to also inform other family members.

We returned to the medical centre to collect further leaflets, as we gave out more than expected, just as we entered inside the heavens opened. There was a torrential down pour which was soon joined by thunder and lightening. My first taste of the rainy season I had expected since I arrived. This literally put a dampener on the rest of the morning’s session, so it was decided that as we had given out more than we imagined, we would call it a day. Just as well as this rain remained on and off for the rest of the day.

We all had a well-earned bottle of Sprite, Coke or Fanta and as some others had just turned up. We shared how it had gone and went over plans for meeting tomorrow, everyone then dispersed ready to meet up again tomorrow for the next location.

Femi and I then headed for Lagos Island to do a bit of networking, he wanted to give a letter to the magazine editor Betty Irabor. Mrs Irabor is a very elegant lady and very well presented and carries a certain air about her, the hope is future involvement with this magazine could help awareness for ‘Wish for Africa’. We then made our way back towards Mafoluku. On the way stopping to go into the security protected area of Lagos behind the wall and barbed wire was this immaculately manicured little (or not so little) oasis. There were businesses, one of which we popped into to do a bit more networking and there was residential premises. The kerbs were all neatly painted black and white, there were no crumbling roads or buildings. To my surprise there was even a road sign, with a speed limit of 25mph, something I hadn’t noticed anywhere else. This just goes to show that order can be achieved and with effort and resources it is possible even in Naija.

As we drove out of the secured area normality quickly resumed as we headed back towards the bridge, traffic chaos as usual, petrol stations empty with fuel in abundance being sold on the black-market everyone making there profit on the way. This is a situation that seems impossible to resolve, when so many people, on many different levels, make their living out of the corruption that has become the norm here. If order was put into place what would all these people (and there are many, many people) do? If pot holes were filled, and traffic flowed, then the hundreds of men and women selling goods walking in the slow traffic would not make there living.

As a foreigner from a country where of course there are problems, but people generally have a say and things seem to work relatively well for most of us, most of the time. Poverty at the extreme that I have seen here, I have never seen, not even when taking food and clothes to the homeless in London. As I stress we, (the UK) as with any country haven’t got it completely right, with some things far from it many of you would say. Not every one can be equal and not everyone can always be pleased with the system they live in. The difference here is vast between rich and poor and it seems that the amount of people living in poor conditions here is immense.

As I lay awake at night thinking what am I doing here? I can not make one ounce of difference, what is the point to this trip? I will go home in a few weeks time get back to my family, friends and job. Back to consent electricity and water on tap, back to a health service open to all and this will all fade into a memory. I have no family here, I am not Nigerian but for some reason God called me to here and as I question at this point of my trip why? I am sure I will in time find out and the minority of Nigerians that have been negative towards my trip or the purpose of it, I pray for you, that He opens your eyes to see the positive in people and not to be so blinded with inward thinking.

Just as I was about to post this blog I checked out my facebook, which wasn’t easy as internet has not been forthcoming today. I was reminded that some people see what I am doing as such a positive thing, regardless of its outcomes or results, regardless that I will not single handily resolve the problems of the world, let-a- lone Nigeria. There was a ‘note’ from a Nigerian in America ChiChi Dike (who also very kindly sent me a donation, thank you) and I read this message that she had posted about me inspiring her (ME!?). I really don’t feel that I am doing anything worthy of such praise, but if God is using this trip and me to make a handful of people think about something or someone other than themselves, then I guess that’s as good a reason to be here as any!

Monday, 18 May 2009

A start of week two! Monday 18th

After a restless night due to the fact that my room phone rang awakening me at 01.30, 01.45 and then again around 07.30, this then took me ages to back to sleep as all sort of silly things were running through my head. Partly not helped by the fact I read an article in a newspaper in the hotel foyer about a hotel that had been under siege and everyone robbed and lucky to have got away alive. Something that hadn’t re-entered my mind until 01.30 in the morning! When I enquired in the morning to why this had happened they put it down to it being busy and someone must have been calling room to room. Oh well at least there are less people mid-week.

I called for my driver to take me to the clinic. I love this journey it’s so interesting watching life and all its visual chaos. The journey as the crow flies is about a mile but we have to go around many roads to get to the main road it seems longer. The side roads here on the Ajao Estate are dry and dusty and to say there are pot holes is an under statement. There are loads of small shops running up the edges and when there is a gap there are individuals with stalls. All selling a multitude of things, loads of water, bread, food, as well as clothes, shoes. People mending tyres, tailors with machines on there heads, people cooking all sorts from corn on the cob to meat. Hundreds of okadas darting around the cars and lorries as they zigzag around the holes and people, some of which are carrying huge loads balanced to perfection on there heads. This is all to the sound of horns blowing, to warn, to protest or to thank.

As we get to the main road (the one where I sometimes play dodge the traffic or chicken?!?!) the medical centre is just across from this point. To get there it’s a trip down the road where we do a u-turn (this seems like something that would be illegal in the UK but is perfectly OK here) on to another road that takes us over the road on a fly-over. This takes us along side another main road where we have to go another half a mile to be able to do another u-turn onto the main road. Here again is a very busy part, lots of yellow mini buses that are crammed with people. The side door are always open with a man hanging out with fingers up indicating, I assume, how many more people can be squashed into it. As with okadas’ there are hundreds of these yellow taxis and buses and hundreds of people using them to get about there daily business. We then head back the way we came but under the flyover to join the dual carriage way on the opposite side. Passing people selling yams and some well tendered road side verges that people have taken over and use to display there gardening skills, like mini garden centres. It really would be quicker to walk but I love this journey and am always amazed by different things daily.

As I get out of the mini bus and walk the about 50 metres to the medical centre, I always get hellos and welcomes from the mainly men sitting around going about there daily business. This side of the road is even poorer than the side I stay on, the side roads up to the centre are even more uneven and the building even less well kept.

On arrival to the centre I was greeted with the usual welcomes, which are always polite and courteous. Fumni was ready and waiting to go home, I removed the babies cord clamp and gave a demonstration to the nurse on how to do this. Explaining how using cord clamps and not cotton thread, when they have them, reduces the risk of infection to the baby. Also reminding them that the cord should be exposed from the nappy and cleaning and creaming etc is not needed. Simple things that in this clinic aren’t common practise. I sat with Fumni and explained the need to take it easy, she said her mother in law would be staying to help out. Her husband turned up and everyone was happy and excited that everything had gone well and at last she was going home.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for the forthcoming event that commences tomorrow. We are distributing breast cancer awareness leaflets to three areas to help promote self examination, over the next three days. Unlike our government in the UK, here there appears to be a lack of screening or health promotion programs. So awareness of health issues is something that needs addressing and this is one level that hopefully we can make a difference at. I am also looking forward to getting out among the markets and people and getting a taste of the atmosphere, rather than seeing it from the comfort of a car.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

It's Sunday 17th

It’s Sunday and in my world that can only mean one thing….time to head on down to church and Praise the Lord. This week I was a little bit more apprehensive than usual as I was heading to an unknown church on my own in a foreign country. I was also looking forward to the extravagant style of worship ‘black churches’ have a reputation of.

My driver took me and on the way I was amazed that their were so many people very well dressed with bibles in hand and noticeably heading to church, a sight it warm my heart to see back in the UK. He dropped me at the front of the church and nervously I got out. This was The Redeemed Christian Church of God, Jesus House (aka House of Praise). As I walked through the door a service had just finished and some were leaving, I found a seat and sat down.

It was a large modern building with elaborate drapes and lights and huge TV screens to see all that was going on as it was being filmed (this could be purchased at the book shop). The large band and choir played the first worship song which I recognised and joined in with, only to find out it was at a different speed than I was familiar with. I did also know a couple more but most of them were sung in Yoruba (I assume) and I did my best to hum along, with lots of dancing and clapping I loved it!

All people visiting the church for the first time were asked to stand and then go to the front row. Here we were welcomed, prayed for and sat for the rest of the service. The good thing about that was there was a fan placed for all the leaders of the church which I too benefited from. A preacher from Jamaica was visiting and gave the preach on Elijah (1 Kings 17) I couldn’t keep up with most of it due to the accent, but enjoyed the service and its vibrant praise all the same. The church was crammed and full, hardly any room between seats and rows probably 300 or more people there. A very colourful and energetic way to worship…. Watch out DCC I may bring some back!

My afternoon was blessed by Gloria, who called in after work (she started at 6). We visited the clinic and saw Fumni and the baby, both looked well and Fumni was up and about hoping to go home as soon as Femi would discharge her. I was delighted to see her looking so well and she informed me that she was now feeding which I was very pleased to hear.

Gloria then took me to Ikeja another part of Lagos this had a very different feel to it. We passed the airport for internal flights which was an impressive looking building (more so than the one I arrive at). The roads were all tarmac and there were roundabouts and traffic lights and certainly more order. Also noticeable was the greener verges and trees, and less crumbling and general decay. There I was treated to Chicken Republic a sort of KFC with a bit more kick to it, I also tried moin moin which I really enjoyed (a hot blended bean paste sort of dish). I felt desperate for some fruit so Gloria also very kindly purchased some pots of fruit salad that I must say went down a treat. Thanks Gloria!

The rest of the evening was plagued with the internet being on a go slow. Hardly any contact was achieved with my family today, as skype just kept dropping the calls. Any attempt to do anything on facebook or my blog was frustrating, but I am very grateful that this wasn’t the case yesterday when I really did benefit from it working well.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Watts been happening today 16th May

Saturday, and again I knew was going to be a hard day, nothing planned! Something that I know I struggle with at the best of times. I also realised that coming on this trip I would have to deal with this and probably quiet a bit of the time. This is the one thing that probably filled me with more dread and fear than any thing else, and something that a lot of prayer has gone into.

I spoke briefly to my family on skype and went down for breakfast, more eggs (I came prepared with diacalm etc and now I think I’m egg bound as they say!! Sorry if that’s too graphic Lol) but the diet here does seem starchy and I will have to buy some fruit to counter balance the effects. That’s more a problem with eating hotel food then Nigerian food I think.

On return to my room I wondered how on earth I was going to fill the day. I turned on the computer and Tony called, the reception wasn’t great and was again very patchy. He decided to invest in a better web-cam, which he sent Michelle out to buy. Michelle my best mate appears to have all but moved in!!! lol. It’s a good job I trust them both so much and I know that Beth loves her and probably is finding it easier with having her around.

Well I am now starting to feel cabin fever! It’s like being in the big brother house on your own?!?

Eventually the new web-cam is sorted and by midday skyping is back with full force. Just when conversation is waning, we decided to play games at Michelle’s suggestion. So Beth and Michelle verses me at hangman, dominoes and battleships, which wasted away a few hours and as the champion of games (to Beth’s disgust) I reigned victorious! (Sorry darling). I also had the pleasure of listening to bickering and whining, it almost feels as if nothings changed. It was nice also to see and chat with both Adam and Emma and even the dog joined in!

I had a call from Gloria, (Femi’s friend) who had hoped to pop in to see me today but sadly for me she had got delayed with family, but said she catch up tomorrow. I also by the wonders of facebook was able to chat with a few other people through out the day. All these things become such blessings when you feel isolated and alone and a million miles from home. Thanks to all that contacted and chatted even the quick messages made a huge difference.

At dinner I met Leonard another American who kindly informed me that Manchester United had won the cup or league or what ever it is that an avid supporter like myself should have been aware of. Yawn yawn yawn! Dinner consisted of Jollof rice which is a tasty sort of savoury rice with a kick and after keep being served bones rather than meat, logic told me to go for the shredded chicken, hey presto a ton of hot and tasty chicken. Great!

I thought I’d ask for a pot of tea to take up to my room. Again this seems to be something that gets lost in translation, I thought I’d solved this problem by asking for lipton rather than tea as this appears to be the tea of choice. Eventually after three people getting into the conversation my tea arrived, hot and tasty worth the wait!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Friday 15th May

I have not been looking forward to today, Femi and Mr Dee are both out of town for a few days and this means I am here very much alone. Although I don’t find the environment in itself frightening, I don’t feel that I would be able to travel around on my own and I wouldn’t be sure where to go, it’s not exactly a tourist area, and I do stand out like a sore thumb! The only other white person I have seen in this area was an American man that had missed his flight and was staying in this hotel for the night, we passed pleasantries at breakfast.

Once again I was woken early at 07.30 by reception asking if I wanted a driver, the answer was no. As I was in no hurry to rise, due to the fact I may not even leave the room all day, the phone went again. This time the news was more pleasing, they requested I tried the internet. With excitement I jumped up and turned on my netbook, no internet via wireless but there was a cable which I plugged in and YES!!!! It was there, I had internet at last tomorrow had arrived! It was temporally short lived as I lost in within 5 minutes, so went to have breakfast in the hope that it would be sorted on my return.

I consider myself very up for trying any food; I am open and excited about trying new things. That aside, I always find breakfast when ever away from home, the one meal that I miss, I like my boringly predictable cereal choice. Here in Nigeria they don’t appear to do milk, so even if I ordered cornflakes, which is on the menu, I’m not sure that the powered milk will hit the spot for me. They do make a lovely omelette and I have discovered that if you have jam on toast it flows with the fact that their bread is quite sweet which I wasn’t struck on before. As I sat at breakfast this morning a Nigerian was also eating across the room, it appears they go for rice and meat stew (or at least that is what it looked like), something that most of us in the UK would see as a lunch or dinner meal.

I received a call from Femi, as he was leaving to make sure I was ok and to tell me that the woman had acquired some gastric problems, so remained on a drip and was nil by mouth. I enquired about the baby and was informed all was OK although no milk had been had and it was still on sugar water. He again said that to make them do anything different would be difficult and even though I asked if I could do a BM (to check the blood sugar levels) he said no, due to this reason. I decided I wouldn’t pop over and see them today, because it would probably cause me more anguish if I still felt something wasn’t right.

So how can I make the rest of my day exciting enough to write a blog about? Well I can’t! I sat in with the computer, which did actually have the internet (praise the Lord!). I managed to put photos onto my blog as you may see if you’re reading this direct from the page. And at last I could see and speak to my family, Beth was so excited she wanted to go out to play instead! KIDS!! Eventually we did do the ‘patchy, can’t quite hear what you’re saying’ skype thing. Which even Beth seemed to enjoy for 5 minutes.

I went down to have dinner and on the recommendation of Samson, a Nigerian facebook friend, I tried Ogbono soup, which as it happened was the slimy stuff I’d eaten at Nigerian Village with Mr Dee. Well at least I now know what it was. It came with mixed meat…. Or should it be mixed bone? I think I know a friend at home that would have enjoyed that! I retired to my room to catch up with this blog and to speak to friends in the UK. The wonders of the internet are truly amazing!!!

Watts' log Lagos date Thursday 14h May

Another very hot day in Lagos! The day started early as I had a call from reception to say my lift was ready….I wasn’t and it seemed that the fact that yesterdays early start was a one off got lost in translation! I hear you cry, they speak English. Well that’s true to a point, but many jump from English to Yoruba or more Yoruba to English. I am amazed how people don’t understand me when I feel as if I’m clearly saying something. But then those that know me would probably agree that I can talk a load of rubbish that is incomprehensible most of the time! (Thought I’d say it before you commented!)

When I did get up and go ‘over the road’ to the medical centre, Funmi the women who had the section yesterday had received her blood results back and her Hb was low (it’s all about red blood cell, and whether you need iron or even blood). Hers were too low and she needed a blood transfusion, which was sent off for and arrived within an hour or so. Once this had gone through Funmi appeared much better and was even sitting up.

We were still unsure if the blood loss was more due to drugs not being what they allege to be or at the dose it claims to be. This seems amazing that reputable sources can still sell you drugs that aren’t what it says they are. Someone somewhere is making money and potentially playing with people’s lives. How do you resolve this? I don’t know the answer but the more I see the more I realise, change isn’t about to happen over night. But on a positive note many people do see and acknowledge the need for change and are doing something about it. Nigerians that left are now coming back with enthusiasm and gained knowledge and I truly believe that this can and will be a great nation.

One of my concerns was that the baby still hadn’t fed properly, I tried for about 30mins or more to help latch the baby on to the breast. Funmi was getting impatient and wanted to just give it sugar water again. I tried to express my concerns to the nurses but they didn’t seem troubled. The baby was very lethargic, which is not a good sign, I stressed to them that I wanted them to feed her with whatever they had, which apparently is not formula!

I spoke to Femi and he pointed out that many of these cultural things are hard to change, that they have always done these things and probably not had a problem before, so can’t see why they shouldn’t do it again. As a midwife coming from a country where everything needs to be evidence based. Therefore our maternal and neonatal death rate is relatively low, largely due to the quality of care and knowledge behind that care. This is the hardest part of being here I feel, that when I believe something needs to be done and could give good reason for my concerns, it appears that no one gets it. Femi did then stress to the nurses about the need to feed the baby and that if the baby is hypoglycaemic, it will be tired and that is not a good sign. As I left they were trying to feed it sugar water, hopefully as Funmi was sitting up and feeling better she will feel more up to feeding the baby herself.

After the another promise of internet tomorrow, yet another day has come and gone with out the use of it at my hotel, so still unable to skype home (sorry again Beth). This trip is teaching me patience in many ways from not having my promised internet to getting on it and then finding it runs at snail pace (I ate him yesterday and it still hasn’t speeded up!) or it just cuts off. But I was able to get onto Femi’s laptop and thankfully at last managed to post some photos albeit just on facebook and not on my blog (although I did try and I thought it said done?!?), they will arrive soon! Reducing the size arrears to help…that’s my tip of the day to all those who are as good with a computer as me!!

As I dodged across the road, (Femi is now trusting my judgement and appears not to need to hold my hand anymore) to catch my lift back to the hotel, you may be pleased to hear (those in the UK where it is not in the mid-upper 30’s) the sky was filling with black clouds. I haven’t heard any rain or storms yet, albeit very noisy in my room due to the air con unit. May be when the electricity cuts out (as it invariably does) and the air con goes off with it and silence prevails I might hear it, or it may have passed over and headed for the UK! : )