June 4, 2017
Journal Entry #1:
I have been in Nigeria, Africa for one week. Yet again, I have fallen in love. Nigeria is an extraordinary country with a vibrant culture and inviting population. In the short time I have been here, I have felt like a part of me belongs here in Africa. I feel like I have been missing a puzzle piece, and that it has always been here, waiting for me.
With a population of over 180 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s largest country. Nigeria consists of over 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages. Nigeria is divided roughly in half between Christians and Muslims. The plethora of natural resources unfortunately leaves it vulnerable to exploitation and corruption.
There are countless people in Nigeria in need. People without places to seek refuge, families without food or clean water access. I am starting to realize that it is important to me that the people I meet here see me as an ally. I come from a country of so much hate and ignorance, corruption and greed run rampant back home as well. Every day I ask myself, “why do some good men have so little while some bad men have so much?”.
I may never have an answer to this question that haunts me. I thus aim to provide aid in any way that I can. This is my purpose. To attempt to make life a bit better for those born down on their luck. To be of service to others. To provide assistance during a person’s most vulnerable hour. This can come in many forms, but on my current trip it means promoting health by vaccinating for Polio.
Nigeria is the only country in Africa to have never eradicated Polio. Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious viral disease, which primarily affects young children. The virus is transmitted from person-to-person and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for Polio, it can however be prevented by immunization. My internship here is with Core Group Polio Project, an NGO tasked with vaccinating youth for Polio Virus.
I am honored to be working with the youth of Nigeria, they are curious, affectionate and genuine. Although we have different skin tones and might not speak a common tongue, I can still express that I come with kindness and humility.
My days are spent walking vast distances to reach all of the children in villages. I deliver milk to malnourished newborns. I vaccinate Nigeria’s future generation against a deadly disease. I am learning about them and they are learning about me. I am feeling like once again I exactly where I am supposed to be.