A Day Volunteering with DHI for the Lagos IDPs
We were 17 volunteers from the Doctor’s health initiative and we were all from different parts of the country. Doctors Health Initiative is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to serving humanity with emphasis on women’s and family health. The outreach took place on the 3rd of November. We arrived at the camp at about 11:30am. We were met by 2 African ladies based in Germany who came to join the outreach and more than 100 individuals eager to participate in the medical checkup we were giving out.
In less than an hour, we had set up and split up into different sections for the program to begin. There was the section for weight and height checks, blood pressure checks, consultation area with the doctors and finally, the make shift Pharmacy.
The event began with a speech given by one of our representatives on Anemia and the importance of checking for anaemia deficiency in child bearing. The women were very attentive and asked questions too.
The talk didn’t take too long. Within 45 minutes, the process had begun. I and Onyeka, a fellow volunteer were in charge of checking the weight and height of these women and children. The sight of these women was very disheartening; their children were so under weight.
Interviews were carried out with some of the women, they told us of how it has been difficult for them in the camp after leaving their homes for safety. They expressed their gratitude for all the help people show them and the care rendered to them by different organizations.
The kids had a hard time opening up to us, I tried to hug them and get them comfortable, all of which was to no avail. We had to get them balloons, it worked like magic. They smiled and easily complied to the process.
I was particularly fond of a 5 year old, Zara, she acted more mature than her age. She got her little siblings together to check their weight and height and helped get food for all 5 of them when it was being shared. She acted as a mother figure to them. It brought tears to my eyes. I could only imagine how much she had been through to make her assume such a high level of responsibility at such young age.
Soon after, we were joined by sisters of St. Louis who came with foodstuff for the occupants of the camp. The children were told to line up and food was shared
Some of us, volunteers, didn’t know what to expect going out for this outreach as it was our first time. We were so happy to have a first- hand encounter with these women, hear their stories and be of help to them.
Picture time, we brought out our phones and started to take pictures. The kids were so excited to take selfies, most of them seemed even fascinated by the ability to see themselves on the phones. It was another bonding experience for me, I got to hold them and make them smile. I felt so accomplished.
We wrapped up the outreach at about 3:45pm. The women thanked us for coming. The look of their faces was so fulfilling. The children gave us hugs when we were about to leave. And to think, they were afraid of us when we arrived! We got into our bus and they waved at us as we drove off.
Volunteering for the Doctor’s Health Initiative was a great opportunity for me. I have always had an interest in helping people and I would forever be grateful to have been a part of this outreach. Youths are encouraged to be of help in whatever way they can, these people have no-one to help them. The least we could do is volunteer; there is always a happy feeling after doing such a kind deed and not being paid for it. The feeling after is worth more than gold.