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Sapele, Nigeria

Today is my travel day back to the United States with many flights, layovers, and ground travel ahead. Leaving Sapele is a little emotional because Sapele has earned a special place in my heart. Sapele, is a town in one of the Local Government Area in Delta State, Nigeria with a population of a little over 243,000. This was my first medical mission in Sapele but it won’t be my last. I felt so connected there. I was excited about the completion of the Medical Mission. I was in awe of the people, their beauty, their spirit, and their ingenuity.

The Medical Mission was a huge success. I felt blessed and honored to have been a part of this life changing mission. Sunshine Medical Care Initiative which is a non-government organization in partnership with Okparavero Memorial Hospital and volunteers from both local medical staff and Doctors, Nurses and support staff from the United States conducted almost 100 surgeries. This outreach started over 17 years ago and is now a yearly event.

The people of Sapele in my humble opinion are a beautiful people. Their welcoming spirit and work ethic is second to none. I came as an outsider, a stranger, a foreigner but I left a Nigerian. To solidify my status, I was given my Nigerian name, Eseoghene. Which translates as God’s Gift. Trish is God’sgift. God’s gift to you is Trish. I can’t think of a more befitting name for myself. As I traveled the rough roads in the various areas of Sapele and the surrounding communities, one thing remain continent, people were busy. Busy selling, buying, thriving, and surviving. They were eager to make money for their family. I’ve been told that Nigerians are pushy and aggressive, and I get that, but I would be too. It’s not until you must fight and struggle for everything that you want to accomplish and everything that you have, then you will get it. Dr. Ufuoma Origbo, the Chief Medical Director of OkaparaveroMemorial Hospital, said that it is hard to accomplish anything in Nigeria. So, I say, power to the people. Continue fighting for a better way of life, continue pushing to accomplish your dreams and your goals. Continue speaking up and out when there is an injustice and don’t let anyone bamboozle you out of time, money, or your talent, especially if they are a vessel of Christ.

The beauty of Sapele is undeniable. Sure, you’ll see poverty there but that’s not the total measure of the people. Their beauty lies within them. It’s the warm smile that greets you, it’s the mother bathing her kids on the porch, it’s the folks that left home and returned to their native land with resources and help for their people, it’s grandma that raised her children, her grand kids and now her great grand kids, it’s in their ability to take the little and make much.

Nigerian’s can fix anything. I witnessed it firsthand. I saw this in the expedited completion of the new OR’s. I saw this in the old cars that they manage to keep running and I saw this in the medical clinic with old equipment. Well, there was lots of all equipment but specifically there was an x-ray machine and ultrasound machine that looked hopeless. There were a few guys tinkering with it. Later that day, much to my surprise, they had that x-ray machine up and running and providing much needed x-rays to their patients. This was also the case with the ultrasound machine. These guys knew something that I didn’t know, that they could repurpose, reengineer or repair anything.

I really enjoyed my time in Sapele. I thank God for another success missions’ trip, and I look forward to future medical missions in that region. My only regret is that we couldn’t do more. Sure, the team did an outstanding job but for every one person that we were able to help, there are hundreds if not thousands more that could have benefited from free healthcare and specialized surgeries that were offered.

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