In my just concluded undergraduate life, every year I had the privilege to visit a local community not to far from my university campus. We usually went to different communities as part of my Christian fellowship’s evangelical outreach, back then in school. Each year, we spent about four days with the villagers in a different community: sleeping on wrappers in uncompleted buildings, going to the restroom in bushes and taking our baths in improvised bathrooms constructed with palm fronds.
As part of our activities, we engage the villagers in enlightening bible studies, Christian expositions, deliverance sessions, and to crown it all, we cater to their medical needs. I was fortunate to always be in the medical team because of my inclination in the medical field. In all those years visiting various communities like Umuagama, Igbele and Umuogem, no other place struck me as awe inspiring like Igbele. The passionate impact was not due to the strong convictions of the word exposition or the tenacity and ruggedness of my Christian brethren during the outreach. However, it was because of the experience I would soon encounter in the final two days of our outreach.
♫ Call: Igbele bu nke Jisus
Response: Alleluia! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!! ♫
During our stay in Igbele, we frequently sang the song highlighted above to reiterate our mission in that community. The song, of Igbo language extract (Nsukka dialect), means that Igbele must be won for Christ, and that we rejoice because it was never our battle but the Lord’s, in gaining victory. We had unwavering faith in what we professed and did not care to think otherwise because of the power, forgiveness and restoration we had individually encountered. Unknown to me, nonetheless, my life was about to receive a reawakening of a past evil.
In the first day of the two days medical screening, counselling and drug dispensing, I was astounded to meet, for the first time in my life, an adolescent patient with generalized epilepsy. He was courageously brought by his daring mother to consult our medical team. Seeing the handsome lad made tears well-up at the sides of my eyes, as if to cry. It was glaringly evident that the condition was dire and had affected his physical and mental orientation, and postural disposition. Just for three hours with my team, the lad had two critical convulsion attacks. I could only imagine how often he, and his family, had to go through this daily nightmare for the last seven years of his epilepsy severity. He was 14 years at the time of our examination. I was absolutely shattered. The pieces of my broken heart were melting away on the floor of despair. Three thoughts slammed my mind. “What if it was me in this unfortunate condition,” was my first thought. I just could not run away from the consciousness of the long-suffering of a fellow.
The second was the renewed awareness of the large severed heart of a virtuous mother with unconditional love for her children. That small voice within me was screaming: “I love you mum! I love you so much!” I could not control myself. I was emotional.
The third thought was as thus: “Poverty, you are a cruel master.” His family could not afford drugs for the management of his condition. Antiepileptic drugs were expensive and our team did not have any around. All I could suggest in my professional advice was for the mother to feed him more of fatty meals, vegetables and fruits, as these help in minimally managing epilepsy and improving general neurological conditions. As I helplessly watched them leave, I realized they needed more assistance than our evangelical Christian mission could offer. Reports I received later that evening provided the last straw that broke the camel’s back. I was informed that epilepsy was endemic in Igbele and its neighbouring communities. These were generally poor communities and hence, could not afford appropriate healthcare.
I learnt several eye-opening lessons from my outreach in Igbele. My past evil of ingratitude had no need for existence anymore. From that day, I had infinite reasons to be thankful for everything pleasing I received from our Creator. Who am I not to be grateful? Same goes for everyone healthy in our universe. Many would kill to have our privileges. I also learnt that we should show more love and care for other humans, especially those in need. This would come to fruition when we grow a heart for channelling our finance and other non-monetary resources to bettering the lives of those in need. I learnt that love heals broken wounds, when it is aright. I mean, simply picture the lad’s mother. I conclude by saying we should all be reawakened to the perspective of a world in need of us.
About the Author: My name is Okoli Izuchukwu Chiedozie. I am a fresh pharmacy graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) with a passion for academic research, reading and writing. My facebook username is “Pharm.izuchucoco”
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