CERI’s recent week-long medical mission to Nigeria stayed true to the organization’s goal of “caring for vulnerable children and families in crisis throughout the world.”
Amid the lush, green landscape of Otutulu – a result of the active rainy season – locals eagerly awaited the arrival of CERI’s medical team. As one volunteer recounted, the beautiful surroundings of the town and joyful attitudes of the children seemed like a gilded façade. The harsh realities of poverty and illness are hidden, yet plague the people of Otutulu daily.
As a result, CERI’s presence is seen as a blessing.
The team of nine volunteers, which included three doctors and three college students, ran daily clinics at the local Ministry of Mercy orphanage. The bare, concrete home cares for more than 300 African children, many afflicted with malaria and other painful disabilities. Villagers also came to the clinic seeking care for various diseases. Many expectant mothers received their first ultrasound from CERI’s doctors having had little or no prenatal care beforehand.
In just four days, the team saw nearly 1,000 patients and gave out more than 2,200 prescriptions.
Healing in Other Ways
Team members without medical training assisted at the clinic during part of the day, and then led separate activities to lift the spirits of the children. Volunteers used everything from soccer matches to Bible Study to heal in other ways.
“Each volunteer brought something new and beneficial to the mission,” said Brianne Moore, daughter of legendary San Antonio Spur, Johnny Moore, who led sports activities after working in the clinic pharmacy.
Emily Cammarata, another volunteer, shared Christ with the villagers. Some were already believers, and some came to know Christ for the first time. Cammarata teared up when she spoke about Amneta, a young girl whose skin was peeling off. “She looked really frail and just exhausted; my heart went out to her,” she recalled. “I got her to the doctor quickly. But I heard him say that this skin condition was the result of a kidney problem, and her only hope was getting to a hospital. I was heartbroken.”
This experience, Cammarata says, has changed her life forever.
Cammarata asked her translator for help in talking to the girl. “I knelt down and laid my hands on her and prayed the hardest I have ever prayed. She couldn’t understand my words but I know she felt the Lord.”
Cammarata laid awake one night wondering if the team had really made a difference in the lives of the struggling Nigerian villagers. As she was falling asleep, another volunteer whispered to her, “Do you hear that?”
It was quiet. “Hear what?” she asked.
“They aren’t coughing and crying like they were last night.”
The team had made a difference, healing inside and out.