What difference can one person really make? The problems in developing countries are too entrenched. Change cannot happen. The issues are too big for us to solve. Let us just continue to turn a blind eye to the wealth inequality in the world hoping that someone else bigger than us will create the change that is needed. Or as Barack Obama quoted;
'Change will not happen if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the one's we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek'.
Let me tell you about the tremendous impact a small group of volunteers from Ireland has made in Park Lane Teaching Hospital in Enugu, Nigeria. 15 volunteers consisting of Doctors and Nurses travelled over to teach medical staff life saving interventions on the the ' Paediatric Assessment , Illness Recognition and Stabilisation' Course. In Africa most children die from preventable causes therefore this course was specifically designed to improve acute paediatric care and save lives. Over the duration of four days over 200 doctors and nurses were trained in this life saving intervention. Thanks to the donations and fundraising this was given at no cost to participants. The gratitude, enthusiasm and engagement from all participants who attended the course was truly inspiring for us all. Not only was this course delivered but also our presence instilled hope in the hospital that change can happen, improvements are available and we are here to help. The faculty will return to Parklane again next year with the plan to train the local staff to take over the teaching within a few years.
'There can be no greater gift than that of giving one's time and energy to helping others without expecting anything in return'.
The ripple effects of this training is unmeasurable for each child or patient that comes into contact with anyone of these Doctor's or Nurses can possibly reap the rewards of this training. On day four we heard a story that showed us the impact. A doctor from the course came back to tell us that he had came into contact with an unresponsive child in his clinic the previous day. Before this training he said he would have simply given the child fluids which such presentations but from the training he knew to implement basic life support which saved this child's life.
'Every life is precious'. Rick Perry
I specifically went over to do some research on child protection policies in the hospital and to give a presentation on child safeguarding. The presentation was received well and I will continue to work with the social work department to implement child safeguarding policies in the hospital that might not only save children's lives but also effect their emotional, physical and psychological well being for the rest of their lives. Therefore the power and change that can be achieved in a short space of time by a group of people who are willing to volunteer is immense and simply inspiring. For YES it is true that one person can make a huge impact and together we will create unmeasurable change.
It is easy to travel and see how horrendously other people live and return to your own privileged life and soon forget about what you have seen. I have done this many times in the past but this trip has impacted me more than even my previous trip to Africa. Perhaps it was from making closer relationships with people who I could really identify with. Meeting fellow social workers and seeing how substandard their working conditions & resources are has really has lit a fire in me to dedicate more time to fundraise to help this hospital. As I walked across the broken plank to enter the social work building, witnessed sick children in a hospital ward lacking basic medical equipment, walking through the Emergency Department without a proper resuscitation or triage area, not even defibrillators (that are available in public areas in Ireland) and the ED having to refuse patients due to a lack of bed space made me feel both anger and sadness. Anger because a few minutes down the road you have million dollar houses. The income inequality and the gap between rich and poor that I have witnessed in African countries is like nothing I have seen before.
'Wealth inequality is a threat to society, and that those who have the means should help those who are less fortunate'.
The social injustice saddens me and I cannot help but want to fight for equality and justice for all. For developing countries to actually develop we all need to do our bit. We cannot continue to turn our back on our own fellow human beings. For we are all one. We are all connected.
'Service to others is the rent you pay for you room here on Earth'
Back in 2017 I knew my desire to travel to see more sights for my own gratification was over. I craved more purposeful travel, hence why this trip to Africa was the first time I left Ireland in well over a year. I have enough, I have seen enough, I am ready to fulfil my full potential when it comes to helping others. I started my blog and social media to inspire other's but over the last week I reflected that perhaps it is at a superficial level. Really all I am doing is helping privileged people lead perhaps a more privileged life? Deep down I want to create change or help others on a way deeper level.
"There’s only so much you can eat. There’s only so big a house you can have. There’s only so many nice trips you can take. I mean, it’s enough. "It shows a poverty of ambition to just want to take more and more and more, instead of saying, ‘Wow, I’ve got so much. Who can I help? How can I give more and more and more?’ That’s ambition. That’s impact. That’s influence. What an amazing gift to be able to help people, not just yourself.”
We are living society where sometimes it is so easy to focus on making our owns live better. Buying more, having more, continuing to seek happiness through consumerism; but I honestly believe the best and most worthwhile thing you can do is touch others people's lives and make an impact. Over this past week I have been surrounded by people who not only work in the area of helping others but dedicate so much of their free time to truly help people in need. I was so in awe of these people that I have no option now but to dedicate more time towards others. By focusing your efforts on others you’re more likely to lift your emotions to a positive place, decrease your tension-producing patterns which means less stress and a happier you.
So this is the question I ask you today, what can you do to make someone's life a little bit easier, a little bit better. Whether it's volunteering with older people in your local community or travelling overseas for aid work let's influence people to help other's. For when you give you truely receive.
'Volunteering is at the very core of being a human. No one has made it through life without someone else's help.'
Heather French Henry.