One African Child invited me to their outreach at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idiaraba. This hospital is a huge and famous hospital in mushin, Lagos, Nigeria. I had heard of several cases being referred to LUTH. I did not know how to get to this hospital from my home, but I did use the sixth sense to navigate my way and the Nigerian spirit of asking (Yoruba says abere ona ki sina meaning the person who ask will never miss the way) As soon as I sighted the hospital, I was on the look out for landmarks, I did thought like other hospital I know, i will find shopping malls, hotels, medical marts but at the entrance I came through gave me a deep reflection as I found food vendors, fabric sellers and the one that got me thinking casket sellers.
If you don’t like to hear about death, am sorry I will quickly touch on it, mind you I am not dying soon. I could imagine myself in the casket, closing my eyes in death, questions like; what will my impact be after life, where will I open my eyes when I close it in death, what would I be remembered for, when I stand before my creator will he be ashamed or proud of me? Many questions rushed at me in seconds and tears were deep in my eyes. Will you die as a gain or loss to this world?
Now I was before the security man at the gate, he interrogated me to know exactly where I was going, as soon as he certified I was not a threat he allowed me in, I walked down briskly and found the paediatric unit, where the oncology paediatric wards were located.
Victoria; the founder of One African Child Foundation welcomed every one with a warm smile and told us the purpose of choosing paediatric ward in LUTH. The matron of the oncology paediatric ward told us they treat children with cancer in the ward and they have 5 wards with 4 patient in each, we were divided into groups in threes. I was grouped along Demilade Lawal and Temitope; two amazing ladies. We visited a ward with Damilola; 4 years of age and Sam; 16 years of age. While Damilola wanted to go home for Christmas, Sam was having lunch. The room was filled with emotions, sadness and pain but we brought joy and inspiration to lighten up the room. we said a word of prayer with faith and left.
We visited 2 other wards with children and parents by their bed side putting on sad and terrified faces, I struggled to hold my tears within me. I adjusted and quickly offloaded my pain, strife, anger and challenges and I started giving thanks to Jehovah God while having a big wish that Jesus touch everyone we visited and send healing to their body including the young child that was mentally ill and tied to the bed with ropes.
We ended the day with introduction of each person on the team, it was a day I learnt that life is a two sided coin, many ask too much from God without giving much to God. We refuse to understand how to appreciate God. I ask what has Damilola; 4 years done to deserve cancer, what has Sam done to deserve a place in the oncology ward at 16? If it is food, what bad food or junk have I not eaten? If it is hygiene, how clean is my house that lies in a rural area or slum? If it was carelessness, was my mummy that careful? Does God love Dami and Sam? All this rythorical questions flush through my heart and mind, and knocked me out with a deep sense of gratitude and remorse, that the life I have is worth much more than thanksgiving, offering, or tithes.
Thanks to One African Child and its committed volunteers for putting this amazing trip together.
Pictures by Abubakar Abdulwalid
Written by Akinnike Michael Oluwatobiloba