By Kenechukwu Ben-Umeh
“Everyone can experience the joy and blessing of generosity; because everyone has something to give.” – Jan Grace
The Global Shapers Community Abuja hub decided to spread this joy of generosity by reaching out to the sick and hospitalized at Kubwa General Hospital to commemorate St. Valentine’s Day, a day of love and cheerful giving.
When I learned about the plan to go to a hospital for this year’s “Give a Gift”, I was delighted and committed to being there. My commitment to participate in this program was fuelled by my experience as a health professional, having seen first-hand the difficulties low- and middle-income Nigerian families experience in paying for health services as a result of the out-of-pocket nature of healthcare payment in Nigeria.
We arrived at Kubwa General Hospital at about 2:20PM. It was a hot Sunday afternoon, the sun torrid as though angry with Kubwa. The hospital was busy and bustling with activities- nurses shuffling trollies and patient files across long corridors with parched walls, relatives of patients sitting on long benches along corridors eating or discussing, some others remained silent overcome by worries, cleaners mopping floors and surfaces- a typical sight for public hospitals.
There were seven of us present, five shapers and two friends of the hub. We proceeded to the office of the nurse that would take us to various wards to identify the patients who had been at the hospital for a long time.
Our first point of call was the paediatrics ward where we met the families of three babies on admission. The first family was the parents of a set of twins, one twin was seriously ill and had been on oxygen and also had blood transfused. The child looked frail while sleeping in the mother’s arms, and we were told the father had gone out to search for money to pay for the hospital bill and medications. We supported the family with a sum of NGN20,000 and the joy on the mother’s face was indescribable. The fact that this little act of kindness meant a lot to this family encouraged us all; we were able to brighten someone’s day.
We were able to give NGN10,000 to another mother for payment for her child’s drugs and NGN5,000 to another to augment payment for the child’s oxygen and bed space. We gave NGN5,000 each as well to two other mothers whose children were on admission, and they were very appreciative and thanked the hub for the kindness. In all, we left that ward having put smiles on people’s faces and lifted their spirits.
In the midst of restored hope, we encountered a man who had just lost his little daughter; she laid lifeless on a hospital bed. From the information I was able to gather from the nurses in the ward, the man did not bring the child to the hospital early because he took her to a clinic that could not manage the condition, due to cost. This was quite an emotional moment for us all. I wished I could do more to help in that moment. It further strengthened my resolve to work hard towards improving access to affordable and quality healthcare irrespective of the financial status of the sick.
We proceeded through a long corridor—with flowers by the side—to the male surgical ward. This ward had both young, middle-aged, and old men who have been on admission for weeks and had accumulated hospital bills to settle. We were able to assist 4 patients with NGN10,000 each to help with their hospital bills and other related expenses. They were all happy and full of gratitude, expressing how much the gesture meant to them. By the time we left the ward, the atmosphere was filled with hope.
Moving to the isolation ward not too far away, we saw an elderly tuberculosis patient who had been in isolation for months. After interacting with him and telling him the purpose of our visit, we gave him NGN20,000 and the man broke down in tears. He narrated to us how he has not been able to pay for his drugs and blood transfusion, and how the money would be of great help to him. He went ahead to pray for us and the hub for blessings and prosperity.
Give a Gift came with a mixture of feelings for every one of us present. There were moments I felt so happy seeing smiles on the faces of these patients and hearing them thank and pray for the hub. There were also low times when I wished we could do more to help ease the suffering and gloom felt in the room.
The project was a great success. NGN110,000 made such a huge difference, and its impact was palpably felt. I hope we can do this more often: with so little, we can do so much!
Kenechukwu is a member of the Abuja Global Shapers Community.