Mission of Mercy: Nigeria Part 5 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/26/07

Mission of Mercy: Nigeria Part 5

These large numbers tell the story of the desperate need for medical care in the Ajalli village. These large numbers tell the story of the desperate need for medical care in the Ajalli village.

After a weeklong medical mission, it is time to brag a little on some pretty remarkable people from right here in the Coastal Empire who went along with the Goodness and Mercy Foundation on their medical mission to Nigeria.

Generous and compassionate are just a couple of words that come to mind when I think about them. You must remember many of these volunteers closed their businesses and left their families and traveled to Africa at their own expense to help complete strangers. Even though they went to help, many say they always get more out of the experience than the people they serve.

If you would like to join the group on its next mission, call 912.232.6048 for more information.

Day after day, the crowd grows as people from as far away as five hours pour on to the clinic grounds hoping for a chance to see a doctor. For many it is their only chance to get medical treatment until next medical mission. These large numbers tell the story of the desperate need for medical care in the Ajalli village.

With this many patients, it's all hands on deck. There are 30 volunteers from Nigeria and we brought 30 more from the US and Canada, most using their medical skills to help. Some, like Savannah City Council members Van Johnson and Edna Jackson, brought no medical expertise, but they brought open hearts and the willingness to learn.

"The thing that amazes me the most even on the worst day in the city of Savannah and the Coastal Empire when someone gets sick they can go to a variety of first care sites and they wait in an air conditioned place to be seen by a physician," said Alderman Johnson. "These individuals have waited two or three hours after triage for very basic care. It makes me see how blessed we are and how important this mission is to address the needs that people have here every single day."

"We in the US are very blessed," agreed Alderwoman Jackson. "We have people here who are walking on their knees to get eyeglasses because they cannot stand. Once you see it makes you want to cry the entire time and you are glad when you see the help that they are receiving."

Both Jackson and Johnson volunteered in the most popular clinic. They got a quick lesson on how to administer eye exams and how to fit patients for glasses. Many of the volunteers saw as many as 60 patients a day. While they are weary after this very long week, many of them say it is well worth it.

"It's great. It's a wonderful feeling to be able to help out," explained optician Ryan Trettien.

Year after year, Dr. Eugene Nwosu treats people who have in some cases never been to a doctor before. He knows firsthand how important these missions are to the people who have so little, people here in the village where he grew up.

"People have come back to say thank you. They say, 'You saved my life, you did this for me.' That's very gratifying that we are making a difference in these people's lives," explained Nwosu.

Several volunteers on this team have never been on a medical mission before. They admit sometimes these long hours can be a bit overwhelming. "I never expected it to be quite so crazy and I didn't realize there were this many people who would be excited about glasses, but we expected to help a lot of people and that exactly what we are doing," added Trettien.

"It's a blessing, you know I can't even sleep at night," said Nurse Brenda Benton. "I get up just thinking of all the people that come through us. It gets a little emotional because it's just so much you can do, it's a wonderful foundation and the cause is,  wow, God'll truly bless everyone for participating in it. You got to have your heart in this thing. It's not easy."

"It's very humbling to see so many people who are so content and so happy with so little with any help they get and they are so giving back about everything. It's a big change," said Nurse Laura Ball.

Many say even though they do the same type of work at home in Savannah, helping people a world away is somehow different.

"We do the same things in the states, but this is a total difference in terms of appreciation level and the need level," added Dr. Phillip Cooper.

"These people are totally grateful for every little thing that we do for them whereas at home I love my home, but we are not as grateful or thankful and we take a lot of things for granted," explained Nurse Felecia Frazier.

Volunteers say they wish everyone could go on just one mission trip. It's important to see how other people live every day to fully appreciate what we enjoy and take for granted everyday in America.

If you would like to join the group on its next mission, call 912.232.6048 for more information. The upcoming mission dates are next June. You can be a part of the team to Ghana or Nigeria or both.

Volunteers travel to Konongo, Ghana, June 1 through June 7 and Ajalli, Nigeria, June 8 through June 14.

Reported by: Dawn Baker, dbaker@wtoc.com

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