As a fifteen year old girl, I never imagined that I could actually do something that could change peoples’ lives. Never did I think that anything that I do could possibly make a difference. In school, service hours, I can volunteer at an animal shelter, or drop off food and clothes for donation but how would I know that what I am doing is actually helping someone. But, this year, all of that changed when I witnessed with my own eyes the type of difference I could make in peoples’ lives. I have always dreamed of being that drop in the ocean that makes a ripple that turns into a wave; I have always wanted to make a dent in the earth, and this summer I began that journey with the MI Foundation.
This summer, I experienced something I have never seen before, true gratitude. Never have I seen people be so honestly grateful about anything, especially the things that I so commonly ignore. In America, people do take their life and their privileges for granted. We expect to always have medicine and healthcare; we expect to live in some type of comfort; we expect to be able to receive anything that we need; and we expect to be taught and treated by very well educated people, but we never truly appreciate it. We hate going to the doctor’s office, and the dentist, and getting vaccines when so many people around the world do not have the luxuries of even having the option of receiving treatment or having doctors that have the necessary supplies and technology to correctly and accurately diagnose and help them. However, this summer I was able to provide healthcare to people who could really benefit from it and really needed it. This summer I was involved in a wonderful project that understands the needs of many people and tried to provide them with the care they needed.
During the 2 weeks I was abroad and the 4 days I volunteered, I was able to accomplish a dream of mine, “to help others”. Every person I was able to help at the mission, whether it be something simple like bringing them water, food, or chairs, or helping with their medical checkup, was grateful. They never stopped thanking me for helping them and saying things like “God bless you”. They were very kind and many people even wanted to help and volunteer after they had received service. I always received a smile from people and that made me feel happy, like I was really affecting their lives. They would say things to me like “this is the only place I can trust to give me medicine” which made me realize, I truly was making a difference. Doing this volunteer work motivated me even more to become a cardiothoracic surgeon so that when I am older, I too can volunteer like my mom and aunts and actually be able to offer more medical assistance as a doctor.
During my two weeks’ stay, I experienced more than I ever imagined I could. I witnessed how important my family’s work was and why they pushed so hard for us to be successful in life, so that we could give back to our country and home. I realized why people so easily can dedicate their lives to helping others, for the feelings and emotions of joy that come with it. I also experienced my Nigerian culture in a way that I never have. I was able to attend mass with my family that although was long, was beautiful. The Church was filled with so much energy and with so many people that I couldn’t help but smile the entire time.
My favorite part about the trip was being able to spend time with my family, especially my grandparents – my mother’s parents, who felt at home, comfortable and joyous to be spending time with us. I also was able to meet part of my father’s family that I had not seen before and visit my grandfather. This experience was amazing and I would not trade it for anything. I made new friends, Sean and Kevin – medical student volunteers from Madison, Wisconsin, who fit right in with all of us; and I made friends with the children at the mission who taught me games and vice versa; they never failed to make me laugh with their many antics. Best of all, I was able to spend time with my grandparents, and I was able to enjoy the culture and environment that they grew up in. They both inspire me to work hard and become the best that I can be. This summer, I provided people with a place they could come to where they could have medical care and not have to worry about the bill being too much, or if they could afford health care. MIF was giving back to a community that needed them and I could not be more proud to be part of it.