11 December 2007

Elephants Jungle, Malaria Parasite

The Elephants Jungle
Between the 25th November and 2nd December 2007, I joined a team of over 300 volunteers mainly from Nigeria and the United Kingdom for a week-long Christian mission to Igbo-Elerin (the Elephants Jungle) on the outskirts of Ibadan. The mission was under the auspices of ‘Liberty’ led by Revd. Catherine Jinadu. On a daily basis, members of the team would carry out medical tests, prescribe drugs, feed and pray for villagers drawn from several surrounding villages to Igbo Elerin. Most of these people do not have clean drinkable water and no access to electricity. With the exception of those on the MTN network, most of us were cut off from civilisation (no telephone signals) once you stepped into the villages.

Of course there were many tear-jacking moments especially when one considers that only 20 minutes away from one of the largest cities in Africa, people still suffer from preventable diseases. However, the positive tweak to this is the number of people that had a smile on their faces after their cataracts were surgically removed by our volunteer eye surgeons in a makeshift surgery right in the villages. Or the old woman given a bath, a brand new robe with a head tie (gele) to boot after she came in very dirty clothing, unable to walk and suffering from advanced arthritis. She is childless and claimed that her closest relatives accuse her of laziness because she couldn’t do anything by herself. Afterwards, she looked refreshed, relaxed and celebrated.

The beauty of Nigeria is that in the middle of government wastefulness and hopelessness, there are hundreds of little stories like this happening around the country where smiles and laughter is introduced to peoples faces.

The Malaria Parasite
Fresh from the missions trip, I found myself stretching like a python trying to crack a prey. Accompanying the stretching was fever, throbbing eyes-ache and a general feeling of unwell. I was certain this was the onset of malaria, probably my first in many years. Nevertheless, I drove to Lagos that Sunday morning with about 20 members of our team straight into Sunday Service at the Water Parks in Ikeja where I was asked to make a speech. I did under very serious discomfort.

Within a few hours, I became tired, disoriented, unable to eat and irritable. I was placed on combination drugs of ‘artesunate’ and ‘camoquin’. Apparently, malaria fever no longer bows to a single drug.

I was to become homebound for a full week. A blood test confirmed that it was malaria plus. I am now told by everyone that my immunity has received a boost. Some boost! PostCardfromLagos