I kept tossing and turning in bed, wearing out my little head from lots of scheming on how to survive the next few weeks. The morrow was the 8th of January, a day I had slowly been dreading since the dawn of the year, the day I get to travel out of my comfort zone and experience the village life for my rural posting. I felt so unprepared for the journey ahead, what’s worse is I had no idea what to expect, so I just let fate be.
The journey from school to Inisa village felt like forever, as I sat glued to the seat in the bus, I couldn’t help but keep saying a lot of silent prayers at intervals for this cup to pass me by, oh well… I had to do the will of my Father who sent me to school. Five gruesome hours later, we arrived at our destination.
The unfamiliar village scent in the air, in addition to the rusty looking buildings, already had me cringing. The locals appareled in their rather ancient attires, filled the streets of Inisa, chatting away. Before getting to our final destination: the medical center which was to be our place of residence, we drove through the rather rickety road, road which was barely tarred, with lots of eroded areas. Different species of animals filed the street, polluting the area with the rather unpleasant odour from their excreta.
10 minutes later, we arrived our temporary base. The accommodation was better than I expected, although it required lots of sanitation seeing as it was left fallow for a year. I willed myself to get to work alongside my roommates and make our designated quarters suitable for human habitation. The cleaning was done finally, as I got ready to rest my head ahead of this expedition, I kept running a vivid picture of what lay ahead. I can’t remember what ensued thereafter, all I know is by 6am prompt, and my alarm was already blaring, threatening to deafen my ears. After unsuccessfully trying to steal extra minutes of sleep, I gave in and stood up to prepare for the days job. The weather at 18 degrees had to be the coldest Nigerian weather I had ever experienced, I wish Mother Nature had given me a forewarning, and there was no means of getting hot water, to help keep warm. Through lots of dancing around when the ice water met with my body, to the gnashing of teeth while getting dressed, I got through the preparation process. My roommates and I were already warming up to each other, so we easily became each other’s companion to the venue where we were all expected to convene at to receive instructions on how the rural posting would run.
Serious work had begun, I was at the Primary Health Care Facility where I was to master the rural way medicine ran should I ever find myself in such an atmosphere at any level of my practice in future. The atmosphere was devastating, the health facility couldn’t boast of owning a lot of necessary medical equipment and facilities. It made me wonder how many people in this village died just because they had no access to proper care, I was filled with a longing to return to my own tertiary health system where things were relatively better. Nevertheless, I forged ahead, learning a lot about basic healthcare. By the end of the day’s work, I had picked a thing or two. Under the supervision of my consultant I gave immunisation and ran basic tests, also I had picked a bit of Yoruba. Fast forward to the end of the first day, all complaining had ceased, it was as though I was seeing life in a different light. I vowed to go about with a heart of gratitude. Why the sudden change you may wonder? I just realised every position I found myself, was an opportunity to make an impact and that was exactly my resolve before my time bomb ran out. I was in for a jolly ride. With a new outlook about life, I began to absorb in all the beauty around me, after clinic each day, I would sit on my bed, with the windows wide open so I could view the lush greenery, the scent in the air had now left a permanent stain on my Brain. From my window, I could see evidence of life all around, from the crying baby playing in the dirt to the bleating goats, to the serenity, I could say life was beautiful. Don’t get me started on the Pounded yam (Eyon) and Eforiro which became food to my soul.
I’m so glad I got to live a little, I got to interact with the Oba himself, familiarizing myself with the Yoruba culture even as I knelt down while yelling Kaaabiyesii oh! I got to eat lots of local delicacy and practise Jungle medicine. Before bidding farewell, my classmates and I made a resort to give back to the community a bit, anything to help improve the sorry state of the health system over here.
Days rolled into weeks, now down to 6 days till the end of this rather phenomenal experience, I’m already dreading the “hang over ” that’s going to wreck my entire being, as a result of returning to my rather sober environment as opposed to the level of highs I experienced at the city of Inisa, indeed it has been an experience of a lifetime, one which I intend to keep imprinted in the delicate frame of my mind, never to be erased.
Written by Alabi Ojima, a final year medical student at Babcock University.