Two weeks ago today, Steve and I boarded a plane headed to Abuja, Nigeria and then boarded a bus and headed up to Jos. We were so thankful for the support and prayers of friends and family as we entered into an area which the State Department has listed as an area for 'essential travel only' due to the unstable atmosphere and recent unrest. We were part of a team of doctors representing 'Africa Medical Partners' (under The Navigator ministry) who were going to teach at a Continuing Medical Education Conference at Jos University Teaching Hospital. (JUTH). Half of our time was spent at the conference; followed by a 3 day spiritual retreat for the African Physicians and their families. What an incredible experience!!! It is hard to even know where to begin.
After roughly 24 hours of travel, we landed in Abuja, Nigeria and were taken to a guest house for the night where we met up with some of the rest of the team members. We also begin to meet some of the many incredible Nigerians who became near and dear to us during our short stay.
The following morning, we loaded a bus and started on the 4 hours ride up to Jos. The traffic is unbelievable. Words cannot describe the sights and sounds.
And then there were the 20+ military check points that we had to go through with guards posted carrying AK-47's.... We were certainly not in Iowa anymore! (Sorry Paul, I decided against your advice of photographing the guards.....)
Cows on the road was another detour that we seldom see in Iowa. (ok.. NEVER see in Iowa!) They have the right away and it is best to stop!
We arrived at the guest house in Jos Sunday evening and unloaded the suitcases. Most of these suitcases contained medical equipment that had been donated to the doctors and the hospital. There were also suitcases full of requested books and items for the Navigator team ministering in Nigeria.
Late that evening there was a get together in the back garden of the guest house to meet some of the conference planning committee; hospital officials and a few government officials. Anyone who has been to Africa will tell you of the gift of hospitality they have. One feels instantly welcomed and a part of the family. And laugh. We decided they have a part of their brain just designated for laughter!
Monday morning found as at JUTH for day one of the conference. The 600 bed hospital was started 20 years ago, but due to disruption (and corruption) in the government, it was only completed last year. From the outside it looks incredibly nice, but they deal with power outages; lack of running water (imagine running an operating room without running water!) and a leaky roof.
Steve gave the first talk during the opening session. It was on the role of computers in medicine. He had been told there may or may not be power for his presentation, which made him a little nervous. Fortunately, the power stayed on for the duration of his talk, which went extremely well and was well received! (The power did go out about an hour later and remained off the rest of the afternoon!) This photo shows Steve getting me ready to run his slide show for his talk. Rolf, a pediatrician from Holland, looks on.
Steve and Rolf did several workshops in neonatal resuscitation. Steve is a natural teacher and was very much in his element.
His first group of students through the session.
Later he did a smaller hands-on workshop to give the attendees a taste of what is available to help with medical practices on their PDA'a and computers. It was fun to see them all hover around him and his IPad!
My 'official' role was that of photographer. We are working on a DVD and brochure that could be used to encourage doctors to be willing to participate in the conference in the years to come.
We board the bus and head back to the guest house after a long day. The leaders of the conference have decided to not take us out at night as they have done in the past for safety reasons. That is just fine as we are all exhausted and ready for some sleep.
Tomorrow I will share some of what we experienced out and about in Nigeria.
Until Next Time....