This trip was initiated in 2008 when we had the vision to launch a fund raising event to raise awareness on the medical plights of our people back home in our home town Ogwashi-Uku. Our theme for the fund raising was Health Care, at the end it was a successful event and we were very pleased with the outcome of the fund raising event.
In 2009, Ogwashi-Uku Association, Houston, TX initiated contact with the medical director of Ogwashi-Uku General Hospital, Ogwashi-Uku and after so many change of needs by the hospital, it was agreed that top of their need is an ambulance. A Toyota Sienna was bought & fitted with a stretcher, Oxygen tank & siren. The initial presentation of this ambulance was scheduled for November 2011 but due to some unforeseen situations, the presentation was deferred. On February 25th 2012 the ambulance was finally presented to General Hospital, Ogwashi-Uku. The presentation went well, was attended by Council of Chiefs from the Obis palace, Social Mobilization Committee (S.M.C.) other dignitaries, some Ogwashi-Uku Youth Leaders and some Ogwashi-Uku indigenes. This event was covered by Pointer Newspaper & Delta State local Television network based in Asaba and was aired on television twice week commencing 2/26/12.
Immediately after the presentation, I went into the hospital with the network television crew, there I observed:
1. The hospital had no light, and I was told that the hospital have a generator but does not have the funds to buy petrol for the generator;
2. The mosquito nets on the windows in the maternity ward were they have new born babies & their mothers were turn, so no protection from mosquito bites;
3. These new born babies do not have milk to feed on, parents were left to buy milk for the new born, a 3-4 year boy needed blood transfusion, but the mother does not have the money (?5,000.00) for that;
4. Then in the general ward same situation no light, we saw young women suffering from various illnesses connected to drips in darkness;
5. The hospital pharmacy with medications had no light
After the presentation and tour of the hospital, I decided to drive around Ogwashi-Uku to at least get some fill of our town. I must say that when we drove into Ogwashi on Friday 2/24/12 afternoon, I was in total dismay of what I saw:
1. The amount of trash on the streets, trash were practically dumped on street corners;
2. The buildings of our primary schools & secondary schools were terribly maintained. Take for example St. Michaels (Adaigbo) the buildings look like huts, the roof(zinc) are in such horrible shape;
3. The roads! Oh please we have none. I was made to understand that during raining season, that the roads are not motor able because of flood. I order to a bait flood, I saw in some villages that gravel were heaped on the supposedly big puddles in the middle of the road, yet these gravel were not leveled to do the job it was intended for;
4. Light! That is non-existence. The people I spoke with told me that having electricity is more of a novelty for them, if they are lucky enough to get supply once or twice a month, and that shortage of electricity does not stop NEPA from sending them bills every month. Our people solely depend on their generators for light & the current petrol price for gallon at home is ?120.00. Tell me how can they afford such cost?;
5. Water! This also does not exist. Life at home is so bleak for those that we have at home;
6. Our young teenage boys & girls are just roaming round the streets or sitting around doing absolutely nothing;
7. On 2/25/12, the Ogwashi-Uku Polytechnic had their matriculation ceremony. This is also an area of concern because I was informed that our teenage boys & girls do not want to attend this polytechnic, they would rather seek admissions outside Ogwashi-Uku.
8. Our current town hall looked so small & it is dwarfed by a two story building behind it, plus some structure on the right side of the town hall. There is space in front to build a reasonable car park and there is a road on the right leading to the Omu and then to Agidiasei just before Ihuani;
On 2/27/12, I was invited to the palace by the Obi. I met with his Highness the Obi, who expressed his profound gratitude to Ogwashi-Uku Association Houston, TX for the donation of an ambulance to Ogwashi-Uku General Hospital, he encouraged all indigenes of Ogwashi-Uku both home and abroad to take a leaf from Houstons gesture & continue to help our people. He made so many references to the underlying problems in Ogwashi-Uku, he also mentioned the pending court cases and the proposed Dam project, proposed Secondary School projects. These projects according to the Obi would take time. He went to say that once the dam is completed, it would provide Ogwashi-Uku and other neighboring towns with both light & water, & Ogwashi-Uku would be at the nucleus of all these manifestations.
On 2/25/12 after the presentation, I met with some of the group leaders, was informed that we have close to 25 group leaders from different Ogbes in Ogwashi-Uku, for example there are three group leaders from Azungwu. Later I spoke at length with one of the group leaders from Azungwu and followed up my conversation with him upon my return back to Houston. He pointed out various concerns but most particularly:
From the youths angle, a way to encourage our young teenagers to attend school and further education for example our local polytechnic. Most of our teenagers do not want to attend the local polytechnic, they would prefer to attend polytechnic and any other higher education outside Ogwashi-Uku. His Highness the Obi also expressed the same concern during my meeting with him at the palace;
A way to encourage these teenagers would be to have a yearly Scholarship Program and the criteria for such scholarship will be determined by the Scholarship Committee;
For our elderly and the rest of the population their medical needs are of great concern. I was made to understand that our old folks do not want to go to hospitals for the mere fact that they do not have faith in our local hospitals. Reason being that our local hospital does not have a functional generator to supply lights to the hospital. Their fear is that when they go to the hospital, the likelihood of them being treated is slim to nothing because no light. Furthermore, if they go to hospital for a minor illness and due to lack of power supply this minor illness gradually exacerbates to a crisis situation, so they rather stay home and self-medicate.
I was at Ogwashi-Uku for a short time, but what I saw are so disappointing, to think that we have had so many sons and daughters of Ogwashi-Uku who have held political positions and had the power to effect some change by planting a seed to make Ogwashi-Uku better, yet these people didnt. It is a terrible shame to say the very least. The politician are there, so also are the local government authorities but we can no longer depend on these people to do what that needs to be done in Ogwashi-Uku, we have to take a stand. The time has come for us to reclaim our town. I know most of us travel home very often, I dont know what you all see when you travel home, but based on what I saw, the time for procrastination is over. We need to take steps to make Ogwashi-Uku a little better than what it is today because if we dont, no one will. We can all sit down here and argue, discuss, yell at each other(if we must) but if we dont take the initiative to do something no matter how small, we would be equally as guilty as those in power at home. If we can at least do something, it would exemplify what we expect our elected officials & the local government authorities to do, hopefully that would encourage them to do something. We cannot expect an outsider to do anything for us that we cannot do for ourselves.
This report was prepared & submitted by
President, Ogwashi-Uku Association