Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nigeria: caring for communities in the creeks

Alert Net
31 January 2012

Source: member // International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) - Switzerland

It is 7.30 on a sunny, breezy morning in the city of Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta. Outside their office, Annick Hamel and Chinenye Anyaeriuba load their vehicle with vaccines, medicines, first-aid supplies, life jackets, raincoats and waterproof boots. With all supplies loaded, the two ICRC health workers drive to the jetty, where Captain Denis and his mate Dike are waiting by a small motorboat. The cargo is transferred to the boat, everyone dons life jackets, and the engines roar into life.

After a bumpy half-hour ride, the boat stops to pick up two vaccinators from the ministry of health. There is a brief discussion concerning the day's itinerary, and Denis advises the team on the best order in which to visit the communities, taking account of the tides.

When all the patients have been taken care of, the health staff pack up and leave by boat for the next settlement, Tangbulusunju, which is larger. It looks slightly better off too, but the water and health problems are the same. The work takes longer here, because there are more patients. The clouds that have been building up suddenly let loose. It starts to rain, hard. The thin thatched roof starts to leak and people seek shelter. At the same time, the tide is going out. Denis and his mate are doing their best to keep the boat afloat, but the heavy rain is making things difficult. Once the rain starts to taper off, it is time to leave, but the boat is stuck in the mud! Boys from the village come to the rescue, pushing the boat into deeper water. Everyone scrambles back on board after slipping and sliding through the knee-deep waters.

Almost 4 p.m. Everyone is tired. The team share a light meal of meat pie and bottled water, relaxing as best they can on a boat riding the waves at full throttle. Chinenye and Annick review the day's statistics. A total of 78 children below the age of five were immunized, along with 32 women of childbearing age.

No comments:

Post a Comment