Saturday, September 1, 2012 will for a long time be remembered by residents of Ijero Community, in Ebute Metta, Lagos as they benefitted from Street Journal’s Free Medical Outreach. More than 500 people benefited from the programme.
Though the programme was billed to start by 9, people had thronged the Ijero Primary School venue and had queued up to be registered. By 8 am, registration started and people were attended to. Doctors were on hand to attend to the registered beneficiaries after which some were sent for tests. Sequel to the result of the tests, some were sent to the pharmacists’ corner for proper dispensing of drugs.
The programme also afforded quite a number of people an opportunity to check their blood pressure and blood sugar levels for free. It was a day the Street Journal Forum put smiles on the faces of Ebute Metta residents.
While speaking to Street Journal, Abayomi Jubilee, the Acting Chairman of the Abule Nla/ Ijero Community Development Association expressed happiness at the programme. “We have never experienced such a programme in our area. Though we have a health clinic, but for an organisation to come with this type of programme, we have never experienced it before. I am so happy about it.”
When he was asked about the impact the health outreach would have on the neighbourhood, Jubilee who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries said “some people might be ill and would still be wondering how they would get to the hospital, and even when they get there, they will tell you that you must get a card, pay certain amount before you are attended to and you will still go and buy drugs. But with this free health programme, you don’t have to go through all that. I pray that God will continue to bless the organisers of this programme and increase them because they have done a very good thing for us. God will continue to uplift them. ”
Adekunle Adebanjo of the Ebute Metta Foundation described Street Journal’s Health Outreach as “a laudable programme. If you can have NGOs like this to support communities, it will help national development. I thank them; I really appreciate them for coming to this neighbourhood.”He also pointed out that the programme will serve as an eye opener for other people. “Street Journal has done well, they have done perfectly great and I know the community will not remain the same again because so many people move around with different ailments in their bodies but they don’t know. This programme has given them an opportunity to know whatever is wrong with them and to make them check the ailments. If it is something to be managed, they will start managing it from now.”
Speaking on what prompted the health outreach, Agboola Odunfa, the coordinator of the South West Committee of the Street Journal Forum said “as you may well know, Street Journal is a group of friends that has been reaching out to its members via jobs, helps and other things. Over time, this has been going on. People within have been benefitting each other and we decided to reach out to the masses that have been disenfranchised, people who don’t get the dividends of democracy, people that cannot basic health and standard living. So, over time, we came together, discussed, chose a location and thought of what we were going to do for them. Take for instance, Makoko. When we heard the news of the demolition, we were touched, we discussed it and we decided to give them clothes and household items. We also talked about Ijero Area, in Ebute Metta, Apapa Road.
We discussed a free medical programme which we are doing now.”
Odunfa also said the programme was an opportunity to reach different categories of people, including those who could not afford to go to hospitals, those living with ailments without knowing it as well as some that are even scared of going to the hospital. He disclosed that bringing the programme into their neighbourhood will show the people that their health is important.
Shedding light on why the Forum chose Ijero Community, Odunfa said “charity is not something that should be targeted at a particular set of people so that you are not seen as favouring your own people or a particular set of people. For example, anyone of us could just say on my way to work, I saw an area that needs our attention. We are in Ijero today, we could be in Sokoto tomorrow, we could be in Ibadan the day after, we could be anywhere. We don’t have connections with the people we are helping”.
Odunfa also disclosed that the medical personnel were sourced from the over 10,000 strong membership of the Street Journal Forum, via BlackBerry and the internet. He also pointed out that the project was financed from within and the Forum did not collect money from anybody.
Dr. Omolabake Alaga, a member of the Street Journal’s South West Committee who also doubled as a Doctor on duty at the Health Programme. Explaining the need for the programme, she said “researchers have said more than 50% of Nigerians live below $ 1 per day, So, these people, you don’t expect them to be able to afford medical services. Sometimes they say they went to General Hospitals and they were not attended to, that is what they say. But in this case, we decided to meet them at home and help them in our own little way.”
When she was asked “what’s in it for Street Journal?” her response was “from now on, I think we should stop thinking about what is in it for somebody and start thinking of what can I do to help another person. The moment you stop thinking like that like that, you will go a long way because if we all come together and put maybe N 10,,000 or N 5,000 that we could have spent on recharge cards, that N 5,000 will touch another ten lives which will in turn touch another 20 lives. By the time you think of that, you won’t even think of it being to somebody’s advantage.”
Speaking on why the programme should continue, Dr. Alaga said “we were well prepared, hoping to cater for between 600 and 700 people, so seeing people come and knowing that they appreciate what you are doing was wonderful. People as old as 80, geriatrics came and they think you are doing something worthwhile, won’t you go ahead and do something more? ”
Some of the residents also expressed surprise that people could offer such services without demanding anything in return.