‘To see a child come into the hospital very sick and then watch them leave the hospital a few days later all better… priceless! you can’t pay me enough money for that feeling.” the young man says in a thick Nigerian accent as he leans over the middle seat on this airplane to tell me.
“If I can help one person, chances are, where they are from, maybe 100 more people have what they have. If I can help them, I can help their entire village.” he continued.
Though I didn’t get his name and it took a while to understand his accent over the sound of the airplane, this man was on a mission to finish his schooling, become a doctor, and return to Nigeria to impact lives.
He made his way to the US to go to school only by the support of his sister, who now lives in Chicago sponsoring him. But, it was while he was serving as part of the UN peace security that his fellow UN friends encouraged him to go to school and that he had something special. Matter of fact, he was about to go to Afghanistan when the papers came thru that he was coming to the States.
Meanwhile, this 2 hour flight seemed to be passing by before our eyes.
We spoke about the need for African nations to collect accurate data on health issues so that they can more effectively determine sources of outbreaks. Therefore, begin taking a more proactive stance. Unfortunately data is often tainted by local government leaders who wish to keep the people oppressed by keeping the millions of dollars of aid that pours in annually. Why would they want to solve the problems, which many could be, if aid keeps pouring in relatively unchecked as to the results they are “producing.”
In this, he speaks adamantly about knowing where people send their money and to be sure they know where the money is going and if it is indeed effectively making a difference.
It reminded me of a statement a friend of mine from Rwanda once said… “Poverty is not the problem… leadership is.”
We continued down this path of a strong need to provide accurate data. He spoke of research being done seeking to determine why the spread of HIV was more widespread in Eastern Africa than in Western Africa. He also personally set out to determine why Cameroon, a neighboring country to Nigeria had an epidemic with Hep C, when there was no epidemic at all next door in Nigeria.
He was done talking about these problems and seeing no results. He had questions. And, he was going to get his answers.
I know this because his eyes told me so. I know this because of that passion in his voice and the way he used his hands to make a point.
I liked this guy. He was done with the same old…same old.
When he spoke of a child leaving the hospital all better… you could see it in his eyes. He could see it, he was right there saying goodbye to that patient as he explained it to me as we were 30,000 feet in the sky somewhere over Pennsylvania.
Here’s a guy who is on a mission. No question he will impact his nation.
But, as he pointed out, doctors in Nigeria generally just sign off a prescription for the patient, no questions asked, no explanation given. What this guy wants to do is to simply explain to them what is wrong, how long they will feel this way, what they are taking and why they are taking it. Because people worry so much, he feels in simply offering that type of specific information, this education alone on their symptoms can often times see 50% of the patients sickness healed as so much can be mental. This combined with treating whatever ailment they were suffering can take a lot of weight off of a persons shoulders. Can you imagine the ripple effect this could have once that patient returns to their home? HOPE. So, he says he is not just going to write prescriptions… he is going to educate. HOPE. You mean this isn’t going to kill me? I’m going to feel better? HOPE.
And, that is what this guy looks like. He looks like HOPE. He wouldn’t say it. For all he knows, he is just trying to be himself. And that is what I liked so much about him. He had no idea how powerful his passion was. But, he knew if he can help one, he can help the whole village.
What do people see in you? Can they see it in your eyes, hear it in your voice, or how you use your hands to emphasize a point? You can’t act it. This is real and comes from a place down deep. What do you see in you?
Do you believe? You know what you need to be doing? Just do it.
What does ready look like? How about…today!
Start with one and maybe just maybe…that village will follow.