Of Prevention and Cures – Fighting Cervical Cancer



On either side of the Atlantic, two passionate individuals are taking the fight to cervical cancer. Both are women, have earned the Dr. title and are working tirelessly to save women from a preventable killer disease. What is particularly intriguing is the possibility that neither of them has met the other but are using different means to achieve a common goal; saving lives. These two are a source of inspiration for many. More crucially, they have become role models for millions of young women in developing countries and will motivate them to take up careers in STEM.Two days ago, the UN marked itsInternational Day for Women and Girls in Science.
For centuries, the immense contribution of women to science has been obscured. It is both illuminating and painful to discover advances in physics, chemistry, mathematics, health, programming, space science etc made or contributed to by women whose names have been buried in the footnotes. It is therefore imperative to celebrate those in our time doing such revolutionary work.


Meet our Women Crush Wednesday: Dr Onyedikachi Chioma Nwakanma and Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos.




Dr Nwakanma is a Nigerian doctor using storytelling for health advocacy. She is one of the foremost health advocates in a country where lack of health information increases the burden of disease and leads to thousands of death. She is a strong campaigner for cervical cancer awareness providing prevention, screening and treatment information to half a million people online.











Her impact is not restricted to the intricate highways of the internet. She is as tireless offline where she works on a variety of health programs. She organizes free health outreaches taking quality healthcare to underserved communities. Earlier today, Her Smile With Me NGO carried out a successful free cervical cancer screening program for hundreds of women in Lagos and Abia states. You can find her here on Twitter.




Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos is a Mexican scientist who has been working for two decades to find a cure for human papillomavirus, the pathogen implicated as the known cause of cervical cancer. She is a researcher at the National Polytechnic Institute. How does one keep up such determination and hope for that long? Many would have been discouraged but Dr Gallegos trudged on until a couple of days ago, she achieved her dream. Using photodynamic therapy, she and her team completely eliminated HPV in 29 infected patients. This article details the groundbreaking achievement that we must celebrate given its potential of saving millions of women.



We have a personal interest in this disease and thus all efforts and news like this make us jump for joy. It has always bothered us that something that can be easily treated and prevented still kills so many women. It feels like rainbows to know we now have a cure for the causative infection. There are valid concerns that historically, medical science has not given equal importance to women’s health. It is therefore of striking significance when women achieve feats that close that gap. This cure needs to be made accessible globally so it reaches those who need it the most.


To all the nerds and geeks out there you rock! Your work saves lives and its impact is felt around the world. To all who are working on an innovative solution to the problems facing us, hang in there and be patient. Learn from Dr Gallegos- stay strong, believe in your dream no matter what, keep working at it and don’t accept defeat.

The world awaits your work.

Oumissa,
Lagos Nigeria,
130219







Telling Great Stories in Healthcare – An event review by Chiamaka Nwachukwu

A typical health message from the WhatsApp broadcast grapevine

If you have never received a message like this, then it is very likely you do not have Nigerian relatives.
We live in a world where almost everything is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. Hence, we have access to all the information in the world-the good, the useless and the downright harmful. This accessibility has come with new opportunities for those of us in the health space, as well as a whole new set of challenges that our medical training may not have completely prepared us for.

Social media is an important tool for anyone who wants to truly thrive in this new world, and even health care providers and advocates have to step up. There is a lot of incorrect and sometimes even harmful information floating about the sociosphere. It is up to those of us who have the right information to ensure that we nullify the effects of all the fallacies, especially as regards health. This is the reason I attended the Social Media Week Health Stories event organised by HelloCare, Doctoora and Digital Health Nigeria.

The event held at the Doctoora Health Hub in Surulere, Lagos and they had this excellent lineup of speakers.

Kemi is everything goals!

I had met him at the beginning, and had no idea who he was until the end of the event! Gosh!

She kept us delightfully engaged!

There were other speakers, but I wasn’t present at those sessions.

I got there super late unfortunately, so I missed the keynote speech by Dr Salako of Redcare HMO and the panel. However, I was still able to join the masterclass with Dr Chioma Nwakanma (Dr Zobo) and I learnt stuff that I felt I just had to write about.

1)Storytelling is a skill you need to master
Think about the guys in the bus that market those herbal medications that supposedly cure premature ejaculation, cancer, TB, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and liver failure. How do they talk about their products? They weave stories that no one can ignore. Then they tell these stories with passion and persuasion.

Most importantly, they tell their stories using scenarios that everyone listening to them can relate with. They have an understanding of their audience and know that Nigerians like “multi-purpose drugs”.They realise that people are moved when they feel like they can mentally connect with a person. So, they use all these to their advantage.

On the other hand think about a typical health talk. Think about the infographics or flyers in a language the people may or may not understand. Think about the medics struggling to ditch their jargon for simpler words, and sometimes failing woefully.

Think about the last time you were counselling a hypertensive patient on lifestyle modifications. Think about how you looked at him/her and knew your words were falling on deaf ears.

Why does it seem like we are losing so many patients to “quacks” who sell them harmful medication? Why is it that, many times, the average person would believe the man on the bus without a WAEC certificate, and completely ignore what the lofty consultant with fancy degrees has told them to do? If we, as health personnel with all our training, are given the opportunity to take over the talk from the man in the bus, would we hold our audience as captive as he did?

This was the masterclass I attended. Go Afro Woman! Haha

These are points she made to highlight why it is important for us in the health space to step up and start to tell health stories correctly. As much as we have the right information, we also need to present our information in the most relatable way possible. It is important that the message in health care is crafted with the audience in mind. The end game is not just to get the information out there. The end game is to package the information and serve it in such a way that it is understood and put into action by your listeners (or readers).

2) Mentors and networks.
Networks are important. Many times, a relationship you have with an influential person is what opens a door for you. Social media has made it a lot easier to connect with potential mentors and important connections.

However, because these VIPs are now supposedly a bit more accessible, they are inundated by numerous people who also want something from them. Hence, to be able to make meaningful connections, you might have to do a bit more than countless LinkedIn messages. She shared these two thoughts:

Giving over taking

This may not be achievable all the time, but it is something to always have in mind. It is easier to forge a relationship with someone when you are giving them help or offering a service. Look at their social media pages. Is there something they are trying to achieve? How can you help? Do you have any skills they might find useful? Can you offer your services? To effectively network or gain good connections, it helps to think more about what you can offer the person, and not so much about what you stand to gain.

Interviews
Interviews can help to break the ice with a potential mentor for example. You could organise an Instagram live session, a YouTube interview, or even a blog interview with someone who is an expert in the field you are interested in. It is a good way to forge a new connection with someone who is far ahead in your field.

This post does not in any way cover most of what was talked about to be honest. However, these I have mentioned resonated with me the most.

This sandwich tasted way better than it looks!

To wrap this up, I have to say that the food was an impressive component of the program. I really appreciated that it was very healthy! I think every health organisation should take a cue from Hellocare Nigeria and Doctoora. It is a bit hypocritical to talk about healthy habits, and then hand out sodas at the end of the event. Let’s practice what we preach!

_____________

Chiamaka is a final year medical student of the University of Lagos, Nigeria and the immediate past editor-in-chief of its Association of Medical Students (AMSUL). She is interested in health management, health policy and public speaking. She reads a lot of random books and has an undying love for frozen yogurt. Her work can also be found on Medium

Health and Books – My Social Media Week Lagos Experience

KhamisLifestyle Read a Book and Go Offline

The two books I just fell in love with at the KhamisLifestyle Social Media Week Lagos Event. I read a few pages from each and was enthralled!
(Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
And A Platter of Gold by Olasupo Shasore).

Two days ago, I hosted a session as CEO, KhamisLifestyle – Story Story: Read a Book And Go Offline with Spa Pampering At Home for its Offline Wellness Studio at the Social Media Week Lagos event. It was all shades of amazing. I had a great time with great participants.

Last Thursday was one of the most hectic and yet rewarding days I’ve had. All morning and afternoon was for the Hellocare Nigeria Telling Great Stories in Healthcare, a Social Media Week Off-Campus event which held at Doctoora Health hub at Surulere.

that smile is what everyone deserves to have.

Then came the rushed cab ride through Costain and Island traffic to Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island to host the KhamisLifestyle event. I wish I had a helicopter! Of course I got there behind schedule but I had the best facilitators and participants who got things started. (Thank you!)

It was fun being on teams organizing two Social Media Week Lagos events in one day! I thought it was impossible at first but with a solid support system and positive affirmation I pulled through ( This throbbing headache is worth it!)

Harnessing the power of social media to change lives

I am immensely grateful to every single person who helped me do this. The donations, the kind words of encouragement, the listening ears, the backbreaking work, networks , flurry of calls and emails and so much more make me believe that humanity is alive and thriving.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learnt this past week is “Believe in yourself and your power to do great stuff. Don’t worry, Allah’s got it.”

_________

With Love,

Oumissa

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To Growth in 2019- Things We Must Leave Behind

Take a look through your communications thus far.

Do a deep analysis . The ones we have conversations with shape us in unimaginable ways. We do have to make sure they are of positive impact.

Do the bulk of your communications contribute to growth? Do you find that you don’t have enough time to work on what is important to you?

You might want to take a deep breath, take a glass of red grape juice ( because alcohol is bad for your liver and health in general) and face the arduous task of pruning your conversations.

If all you do is

-Talk about other people’s private business,

– Fight over flimsy things,

– Discuss inappropriate topics you wouldn’t in real life,

– Engage in heated dead-end arguments on incendiary topics like politics or religion,

– Struggle to explain yourself, or feel belittled,

– Be wilfully ignorant, a mansplainer, disrespectful, insensitive or vulgar,

– Spend long hours on meandering conversations with no end or purpose in sight,

You should consider cutting back- a lot – on this conversation/person. There’s way too much toxicity in there. You do not have to be rude. Of course try and work with them to improve things but if they aren’t willing or ready to change, then it’s time to let them go. Appreciate whatever good they’ve brought and send them off on their way with a basket of smiles for flowers.

Cultivate friends and conversations that

– Are about giving back to society.

– Grow you and make you better,

– Inspire you to do things you never thought possible.

– Help you fine-tune your ideas and execute your plans

– Are about exchanging rich, illuminating articles about a wide range of relevant topics.

– Celebrate your accomplishments, are comfortable when your intellect shines forth with almost-blinding radiance,

– Make you laugh with rich humour,

– Expand your horizon, feel your brain literally open up and absorb knowledge,

– Make you feel happy, respected and confident.

Look for these people. Have conversations with them instead.

Be that person.

Because we have to keep being better versions of ourselves, we are done with things or people that prevent us from achieving this. You are too special to be bound to things that diminish you!

That’s the energy we are taking into 2019.

Danke meine damen und herren!

P.S. I think you should read this amazing Medium article by The Startup . It is an easy-to-follow bite-sized guide to growth in 2019 by saying the word ‘No’.

No, you did not read that wrong.

Fun fact: My friend sent it to me. It is the latest in a string of the gazillion cerebral boosts our conversations are made of.

Get a friend like mine.

…………

Wih Love,

Oumissa

Tenacity : The Making of Success

Founder of ScaleMyHustle , lawyer, investor and global entrepreneur, @Mochievous received great news today. Her paper on innovation which had earlier been turned down was accepted by the World Bank for its 2019 Conference on Land and Poverty. Her joy was palpable as anyone who has toiled over something similar can testify to.

This has great impact and inspiration for all young people especially young women. News like this encourages them to believe in their dreams, keep working through defeats and sustain confidence that they will succeed. As if one could not be happier to see such heartwarming news, she goes on to offer two lawyers a chance to research and co-author the final work. Way to go! Sharing the spotlight and giving talent some opportunity is a crucial way to hasten development across groups.

Congratulations Moe!

View her Twitter thread here

Too often, we are afriad of taking the next step in our professional , academic or personal life. We must remind ourselves that if we do not try, we will not find out the amazing things we can accomplish. We effectively deny the world of value when we hold back and let fear keep us in a state of limbo. Worse we let rejection dampen out optimism and then we stop.

So please do it and don’t rest until you win.

_______

With love,

Oumissa

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Longreads- Reeling Cascades by Adefola Toye

Wiping the tears running down her cheeks as she walked down the road leading to the refugee camp, she replayed the events that led to that day in her head. It was a windy harmattan afternoon. The sky was hazy and the air dry and windy. She unconsciously licked her crackled lips as the falling leaves from the swaying trees along the walkway travelled across her face before gently gracing the ground.

God, please let her be here, she prayed. Takwa had visited all the camps in Southern Ayema in search of her to no avail. As soon as she heard the news of the surrender, she packed a few of her clothes and her passport and boarded the first bus she found heading to the South. She had heard the news on the radio at the Government General Hospital, Hage the country’s capital. She had begun working there after she was rescued that day.

It had been two years already but she always felt a cold shiver each time she remembered. The 5 year war ended 15 days ago with the Coalition Movement, the rebel force surrendering to the Government Forces of The Republic of Ayema. The civil war began when the Coalition forces launched an offensive bomb strike on the National Military School Headquarters, Hage. This marked a series of events that altered the courses of many lives forever. Takwa’s was no exception.

She could still feel the throbbing ache in her feet. She had no choice but to walk the distance to the camp. The military had still not lifted the ban on vehicular movement in the newly occupied Wagbe province. She had walked this same road during the siege. She recalled it was bathed with blood, and decapitated bodies. She had vomited on the side of the road at the mere sight of the gory scene. Takwa had covered Sami’s face with the scarf around her neck. Sami was in her arms and couldn’t stop crying as they both ran to safety.

A truck with the emblem of the Ayema military on the side, drove past her and came to a halt. She was unaware of the vehicle even as she walked towards it.
“Excuse me. Young lady” the soldier in the driver’s seat said
She was so lost in her thought that she couldn’t hear a word.
“Madam. Hello!” He exclaimed
She was jolted back to reality this time.
“Yes”. She took in the soldier and his mate beside him. He reminded her so much of her husband Deyi. They were in their smart uniforms and shiny medals hung from their suits.
They definitely just got awarded. Look at them she thought. So happy. I’m sure they’ll be promoted soon.
She felt a sadness overcome her. This could have been her husband.
Do they have wives or children to go home to? Did they lose someone special like I did?

Takwa and Deyi met a year before the war and got married four months later. He was a lieutenant in the army and resided at the Military Base, Hage. They had met at the hospital where she worked as a doctor. Her parents and many of her friends were opposed to the marriage.
“How can you marry a soldier? Common soldier. Do you want to be a widow at 25?” her mother ranted.
“Deyi is the one for me. Besides being a soldier makes me love him more?
“Oh really. You couldn’t find a doctor like yourself or a politician like your father ehn”
“Ma, he defends our country. At least he’s way better than Dad who swindles this nation’s resources.
“Shut up. Let me make this clear. It’s either your stupid soldier or this family. The choice is yours”
Takwa made her choice. One that may have changed the course of her life forever.

“We can give you a ride ma’am. We are heading to Magbe Camp. Where are you going?”
Oh. Sure. That’s exactly where I’m headed. But is there room for one more? She asked.
“Yes. My good friend here would seat at the back.” His partner nodded and got down from the front seat.
She walked to the other side of the car and hopped in. She cringed as she saw their rifles laying on the back seat. The war had ended but it would take a long time to forget, she admitted.
“Thank you” she said as she turned to face the driver.
“Not to worry. You’re still quite far from the camp. Beside, it is hard to access because of the large crowd at the entrance.
She knew that already. All the camps she had visited so far had been crowded. There was a stampede at the last one she searched.
“Looking for someone at the camp?”
“Yes. My daughter”.
“I’m Sergeant Aije. Sorry, soon to be Second Lieutenant Aije. “He smiled.
She nodded without uttering a word.

They rode in silence. The young soldier tried to start a conversation a while after. This time she ignored him completely. She had enough on her plate than to start a conversation with a complete stranger.
Will she be here? Fear creeped into her thoughts. This was the last camp in the region Sami could be. If she eventually couldn’t find her, where else would she search? Some refugee camps were in the neighbouring countries. She would cross the border to find her. She had no money left but that wouldn’t stop her. She’d do anything to see Sami again.

Takwa was three months pregnant with Sami at the start of the war. Days after the National Military School was bombed, they both decided that she was safer at another location far away from the heat at the capital. Besides, Deyi would be enlisted soon to go to the front. Days later, she moved to Wagbe, a province in Southern Ayema, to stay with his aunt. It was far away from the crisis and was most likely not to be taken over by the rebel forces. Or so they thought.
She said goodbye to Deyi amid tears. He promised to send word as soon as he could.
“Don’t be scared, the war would be over soon. These rebels are so divided and that’ll be their undoing. Trust me”, he reassured her.
“I’ll try. Be safe. For me and the baby. We need you.” she cried.
“I will.”
“Deyi, please don’t die. Please.” She cried.
“I won’t. I promise.” He said.
That was a promise he couldn’t keep. Deyi died in a bomb explosion two years later . He never got the chance to see his unborn child.

As they drove towards their destination, she could see faintly the large flux of people walking towards the camp.
Magbe Camp was established specifically for the displaced people in the neighbouring Wagbe province. Two years into the war, the umbrella of rebel groups formed a Coalition movement which saw their rise in control of many provinces in the South of the country. Wagbe was one of the government forces held provinces until the Siege of Wagbe by the rebel forces started. It was a shock to all because it was a strong hold for Ayema.

Takwa had received the news of Deyi’s death a week before. She was still distraught and heartbroken. Her daughter was eighteen months old and had just begun talking. She became over protective of Sami. Never letting her out of her sight. Sami was all she had left and she’d do everything to keep her safe. On the eve of the siege, Takwa and Sami had gone to the hospital. She had been carrying Sami to work for days now. Her ward rounds were just completed and she was about to lay restless Sami to sleep. Just as she closed her eyes, the noise from an explosion rocked the hospital. The intensity rocked the hospital buildings that the incandescent lamp on the ceiling above broke shattering the pieces over them. Anyone could tell that the incident was not so far away.

The explosions didn’t stop and Sami burst into tears. Takwa knew at that instance that many casualties and injured would soon be brought to the hospital. She had to be ready but there was nowhere to keep Sami. She couldn’t leave her by herself. She decided to strap her on her back with the blanket she put her to sleep with. She tied her scarf around Sami’s eyes. If she wasn’t prepared herself to see the sight to come, Sami would fare no better. As she got to the emergency department, people had arrived at the hospital. The entrance was obstructed with mutilated victims and rescuers. Blood oozing from people’s wounds had completely disfigured the white tiled floor. She could see people writhing in pain while others laid lifeless on the bloodied floor.

They are just too many. Takwa, still confused, said to herself. We can’t save them all. Oh God, what is happening? She got to work immediately. The nurses had to separate the victims that weren’t seriously injured from others that would most likely not survive. This was terrifying for Takwa. Sami was surprisingly still through all these. Takwa had to shrug fervently to be sure she was fine. When Sami replied by calling “Mummy”, she knew her daughter was trying to help in the little way she could.

She got prepped for surgery amid the confusion. As she ran down the aisle towards the operating room with other doctors and nurses, another explosion rocked the building. Takwa was pushed to the floor on impact and this time, Sami yelled. The affected area was the emergency lobby where she had just left. The air was clogged with smoke as she heard screams echoing from the walls. People scurried from the ground with other severely injured laid still. Takwa saw one of her colleagues with a shrapnel sticking from his throat. The blood dripping from his neck had stained the collar of his white coat red. He lay with his side on the floor and his eyes stared right through Takwa as she stood up eventually. That would mar her dreams from years.

Before Takwa could fully grasp the severity of the disaster, men armed with rifles and grenades stormed the destroyed building. They began to shoot everything they saw. Men, women, children, the injured, the walls and ceiling. They shot everything in their way. The screamings intensified and more bodies dropped dead to the ground. It was pure horror. Takwa fell face down to the ground on reflex and prayed Sami stop crying.
“Shh. Sami, Sami. Stop crying” she begged.
Sami was too terrified to stop. Takwa knew she had to get out fast. She crawled to the rest room on the aisle leading to the operating room. Immediately she got in, she locked the door behind her and got Sami off her back. Sami still was weeping. Takwa had started crying too.

She knew what was going on now. The war had caught up with them. How could this have happened? They couldn’t have defeated the Army at the Southern front. Oh no. Is this a dream? She knew she had to think fast but she was so scared and the tears wouldn’t stop. She heard gunshots just outside the door. She could recognize the voices of her colleagues as they begged for their lives. The shots followed and all was silent. Not until then did Takwa realise she was holding her breath. Sami had become quiet too. “Good girl” she mouthed to her daughter. She tied her child around her again and opened one of the stalls. She climbed the toilet seat and escaped through the open window. She landed on the grass outside checking immediately for any injury on Sami’s body. When she found none, she held her tightly to her chest and ran as fast as she could.

Beep! Beep!
“Out of the way! A vehicle coming through. Out of the way!” Sergeant Aije yelled at the crowd in front of him.
They were finally at the entrance of Magbe camp. Takwa was so nervous that her hands began to shake. This was the last camp in the country. She prayed her daughter was here.
“Don’t worry. You’ll find her.” Aije said reassuringly.
“Thank you”.
The truck finally escaped the crowd at the entrance. They drove to the vehicle stop in the compound before halting.
“Well, here we are.”
“Thank you. “She managed to utter.
They all alighted from the vehicle. Aije walked over and stood in front of her.
“The large green tent over there on your left is the identification centre. You’ll have to search for her name. The name goes with a picture. Do you have a means to identify her?
“Yes I do.” she nodded.
She turned to leave then stopped and walked back.
“Thank you so much. I’m sorry I have nothing. How can I repay you?” said Takwa.
“You don’t have to. Just find your daughter.”
She smiled and walked towards the tent.

The camp was still filled with a lot of people because many had nowhere to go yet. She increased her pace as she got closer to the tent. There was an array of boards lined at the front of the tent. People were gathered around it and Takwa had to stretch to see. It was the identification board. It had the names of each refugee in the camp and their photo. She squeezed her way to the front. As she stood in front of the first board she thought of Sami and the last time she saw her. She would be a big girl now she muttered as she recalled their last moments together.

It was the evening of the seige. She had ran for hours after escaping the hospital. While walking the bloodied Magbe link road, she had trampled on the bodies laying lifeless on the roadside. She tried to hide from plain sight. She made up her mind on what to do. She was going to head to Magbe. Hopefully the government forces would still be there. As she tread the bushes she heard the sound of moving vehicles. She hid immediately behind the vegetation. From her hiding spot with her hand to Sami’s mouth, she saw that the vehicles were trucks and vans carrying men from the direction of her once peaceful home. They were chanting a song she couldn’t recognize. Now they have control of Wagbe she thought. How long until they took over the south. This meant the war was going to be longer than she had imagined. Her life had already been distorted enough. Her thought were of Deyi’s aunt and her family. She recalled overhearing a victim saying that their neighbourhood was worst hit by the attack. She knew there was nothing she could do. She just had to get Sami to safety.

She continued walking till nightfall. It was a full moon and the sky was peaceful like it was unaware of the hell below. By that time, she had walked to the outskirts of Wagbe. She would get help here. Maybe the Ayema military will be on standby. As she reached the nearest town of Ije, she knew she was wrong. Ije was on the outskirts of Magbe province and the closest town on the highway from Wagbe. The moving crowd she met was unbelievable. The only source of light asides the full moon came from some parked vehicles everyone was headed.

People, most likely residents had their loads on their heads walking to a group of buses. Takwa could see mothers carrying their babies with baggage dangling from both shoulders. She could hear a lost child crying out for his father. The commotion was disturbing for Sami. She wailed frantically. Takwa was too disturbed by the noise. She walked towards the parked vehicles. She saw a man in uniform directing people. She could see that not everyone entered the buses. Families were separated with mostly women, the elderly and children boarding. She got in front of the man and shouted at the top of her voice.
“Excuse me. What is going on?”
The man ignored her completely and continued his job. She dragged him by his sleeves so she was right in front of him.
“What’s going on? Where is the bus heading?” she asked again.
It was probably because of her coat she still had on from the hospital or because Sami’s cry was pathetic to his ears. This time, he answered.
“The rebels are getting closer. We have been ordered to evacuate the residents of Ije. We believe this is their next target before moving to Magbe.” he screamed above the noise.
“Where does the bus go. “She questioned as she nodded.
“I don’t know for sure. To the closest refugee camp I guess.”
She attempted to get inside the bus.
“No. You can’t get in this one. It is full. As you can see, we can’t take everyone.” He said as he stopped her from entering.
“Another rescue is on the way. You could wait.”
“What! You said it yourself, the enemy will be here any minute” Takwa was outraged.
“Ma’am there’s nothing I can do.”
“Oh God.”
She ran off to the other buses. All was full.
She had to get on one of them.
The buses had started leaving and Takwa and her baby were not on one.

She had to do something. Like an epiphany she had an idea. She rummaged for a sharp object in the pockets of her coat and found a pair of forceps in the left pocket. She must have placed it there in the confusion at the hospital. As she put it out towards Sami’s arms, tears welled in her eyes.
“I have no other choice.” She wept trying to convince herself.
As if she knew what was about to happen, Sami began to struggle.
I’m so sorry. She took Sami’s left shoulder and began to inscribe Sami’s name.
S-A
Sami’s wail was amplifying. Takwa wiped the tears swelling in her eyes before she continued.
M-I D- .
She stopped. The last bus had its ignition on. She tore her scarf and tied it around Sami’s pierced shoulder. The bus had started moving. She ran with her daughter tightly held around her and stood in front of the bus. The driver stepped on the horn but Takwa didn’t budge. As he moved closer he had no choice but to stop. She ran instantly to the passenger door and begged for it to be open.
“Madam it is full. No space.” the driver yelled.
“Please no. My baby! My baby. Just take her please.”
“Look here, there is no room. We have no time”
Takwa continued to beg amid tears. She ran to the passenger’s window.
“Please help me. Take my baby. Please take her.”
She ran back and forth desperately for help. An old woman summoned her.
“Bring her here” she said.
“Oh thank you. Thank you.”
She carried Sami over the open window and the woman took her child from her.
“Her name is Sami Deyi. Sami! Sami!” Takwa said.
“Please she’s injured.” She added.
Sami face cringed in a cry. Takwa didn’t let go of her hand until she was settled on the woman’s laps. She couldn’t let go. When she summoned up the courage and released her grip, Sami yelled.
“Mummy! Mummy!”
She began to cry as the bus started to move. Takwa couldn’t bear it. She turned and tried to shut out Sami’s voice.
“Mummy! Mummy!”
Takwa held her arms around her body and ran away weeping. As the bus went out of sight she could still hear the faint sounds of Sami screaming Mummy.

What happened next was still blurry to Takwa. The Coalition Movement rebels landed soon enough but by then, the town was almost deserted. Those left behind had taken refuge in the town hall. Fortunately, troops from the Ayema army arrived and both sides were locked in combat for hours. Eventually they were rescued. Takwa returned to the hospital in the capital to work. That was the only thing the war hadn’t taken from her. She dedicated all her time at the hospital. If she couldn’t save Deyi or Sami, at least she could try saving others. But she swore that as soon as the war ended, she wouldn’t stop until she found Sami.

Three years after and this was it. She continued to peruse the boards but to no avail. She couldn’t find her name. Didn’t they see the scar on her arm? That should have been enough to identify her. Her disappointment could not be concealed. She struggled out of the crowd and walked aimlessly away. Could she be dead? This thought had never crossed her mind. It was over. This was it. She wandered into the camp and arrived at the make shift clinic. She saw a wooden bench right by the entrance and sat. With her face in her hands, she let out a sign of resignation. She had no plan. No next move.

She could hear the sound of children playing. She looked up and saw three little girls playing feet away from her. Something caught her attention. She had no idea what it was but she took a closer look at them. They were about four or five years old. Their clothes were worn out. She took them in one by one. The one who caught her eye was a little girl in a green floral gown. She had her back to Takwa. Soon she turned with her left side in her direction. Then she saw it. On the girl’s arm were marks. Takwa stood abruptly and walked towards them. It can’t be. As she walked closer she could see more clearly. On the girl’s arms were a series of scars in the shape of letters. They read SAMI D.
Takwa couldn’t believe her eyes.
“Sami! Sami!” She screamed.
The little girl and the others turned to face the caller. She had no idea who Takwa was.
Takwa got in front of Sami, went on her knees and took her long lost daughter into her arms. Tears flooded her eyes. She was so overjoyed.
Finally. She found her. She found her Sami.
The little girl was perplexed. She had no clue who this teary woman was but she hugged her anyway.

Written by Adefola Toye, 2018

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Note- This short story has previously been published in the University of Lagos Architecture Students 2018 Year Book.

No part of this work can be reproduced or stored in any form without prior permission of the publishers.

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Thank you for finishing this. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

With love,

Oumissa

Read and Dissect with Oumissa

Dear Philomaths,

A new idea popped into my head as I tried to keep my smile in Lagos traffic. I have many brilliant people (bless all their hearts) with whom I analyse selected articles on trending issues daily. I’m moving this robust experience from WhatsApp here. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments. And yes you can suggest interesting articles of your own.

Let’s start with these six.

1. What happens when three brilliant young minds from different skill sets come together to provide a solution to long waiting time in Nigerian hospitals? Find out in this TechCabal article.

2. Do you, like me, use lara.ng to navigate the jigsaw puzzle the city of Lagos is? Lara.ng is a chat-based transportation solutions platform that provides directions and ridesharing services especially for those knotty routes that stump even Google maps. Another by Tech Cabal.

3. Is there something about smart , reserved men that makes them incapable of commitment? Find out in this brilliant article by Jennifer Lowe.

4. Young skilled people in competitive fields are often grappling with mammoth workloads and deadlines with talons they cant escape from fast enough. They sometimes turn to energy drinks to keep them awake help finish their tasks. But are these the best performance aids ever or do dangers lurk within those stimulating gulps? Let Caffeine Informer take you on an awareness trip .

5. Streets across the UK were recently awash with bright red poppies honouring the sacrifices of British Empire soldiers in the colossal loss of young life WW1 was. Little known is the crucial contribution by Muslims in this war. This BBC article goes back in history in this detailed analysis.

6. Follow two globetrotting sisters across the world of designer clothes and accessories, a lavish lifestyle funded by billionaire paramours, and a discovery of their own talent and ability. Many surprises await in this New York Times piece .

You’d see why I saved it for last.

P.S.

Have some questions? Ask qualified people of Quora
Interested in design, check Tutpad.
Want to add some more skills to your portfolio? Skillshare!
In an academic emergency? Need a presentation real fast? Thank me later for telling you about the lifesaver that is Slideshare

Have a fun day. I’m looking forward to a great discussions!

…………..
Love,
Oumissa.
Lagos, Nigeria
14 Nov 2018