Doing the ‘Hokey-kokey’ in Nigeria

I have now been working in Nigeria with the NGO, Jhpiego for two months and have recently returned from a two week training stint in two states south of the capital city of Abuja.  We worked with 29 attendees in a town called Abakaliki in the state of Ebonyi and with another 33 attendees in Lokoja in Kogi state.

Map of Nigeria


The PULSE Volunteer Partnership is GSK’s skills-based volunteering initiative.  Through PULSE, motivated employees are matched to a non-profit organisation for 3 or 6 months full-time, contributing their skills to solve healthcare challenges at home and abroad.  When PULSE Volunteers return to GSK, they act as catalysts to change the company for the better.” Read more here

Our PULSE assignment is under the Maternal and Child Survival program (MCSP), which is a USAID funded programme in the two states of Nigeria; Ebonyi and Kogi. The main goal is to provide support for activities to Ending Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths (EPMCD) in Nigeria. To achieve this, MCSP is partnering with four national professional associations: Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Nigeria Society of Neonatal Medicine (NISONM), Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria (SOGON) and National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM). The 4-day training workshop we ran titled, ‘Building Business Capabilities’, was rolled out for the newly hired programme, finance and administration staff of the associations in each state.

I introduced the hokey-kokey as an energiser – well it got everyone up on their feet singing and moving around.  With lots of laughter too – what more could you ask for???

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Group photo_Lokoja_Kogi_Sep2015

I do feel the training was a success.  All attendees left each training session with a clear plan of action on how to move forward to deliver on at least one of their Year 1 work plan objectives.  This is a tight deadline as Year 1 completes at the end of September.  I wait with anticipation just like an expectant mother!!

Speaking of which, we did manage to visit maternity wards at two hospitals in Abakaliki.  At the Abakaliki Teaching hospital, we met some babies who were receiving treatment. The first, a bouncing 5kg boy who was born to a diabetic mother.  He was experiencing some respiratory difficulties so was being closely monitored.  A modified version of the bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (bCPAP) was in use. It is amazing how innovation and creativity flourish in a resource constrained environment.  Here they use readily available plastic drinking water bottles to create a system to deliver the high flow of oxygen at the right pressure to the newborn child.   A cheaper and sustainable way forward!

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Obum_ Abakaliki Teaching Hospital_Aug15






We also met a set of twins, Gideon and Faith, who had been discharged a week earlier but had to come back for treatment when they developed breathing problems.  They looked like little birds and kept reaching out to each other.  I did hear from their paediatrician, Dr ObumnemeEzeanosike, at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, that one of the twins developed anaemia and needed a blood transfusion.  Obum was doing an amazing job looking after these poorly babies almost single handed as the rest of the medical staff were on strike and had been for the last 3 months.  We did hear that the issues were resolved and the strike called off the week after we left Abakaliki.



Faith and Gideon Basil_Aug2015





We also visited the 4th Mile Mission Hospital.  The matron, Georgina, proudly showed us around her maternity and labour wards.  It was lovely to see so many healthy new babies. It was the perfect opportunity to share the baby tunics knitted by Jo and her ladies at the Friday Club in Holbeach.  The mothers were very taken by Jo’s handiwork – and very grateful for the new outfit to take baby home in.  Keep them coming Jo!  Word has got around and they all want one of your knitted tunics and bonnet now!!!







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It was a 5 hour drive between Abakaliki and Lokoja.  We did see more of the Nigerian countryside, passing through villages and roadside markets.  That was a Godsend as we stopped to buy fresh bananas, oranges and roasted groundnuts.

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I am off home for 10 days now to see my family and friends.  I can’t wait to see everyone and share my photos and stories.  And most importantly indulge in all that food I am missing.  I am pleased with the effects of not snacking on biscuits and cakes.  However do miss lots – my first request is for a BLT sandwich from Marks & Spencers in the car when I am picked up from Heathrow – don’t forget Mark!!!



Please note that the opinions and observations contained within this blog are my personal interpretation of what I saw.


  1. I love hearing about your adventures Nikki, it’s good to see you sharing your skills and still dancing in meetings :o) Enjoy your break xxx

  2. Hope the twins are ok! Hokey cokey idea was inspired idea and bet everyone had fun – perhaps this should be incorporated into long GSK meetings to liven things up 🙂 Great pics and really interest insight into how the hospitals manage despite a shoestring budget. Have a lovely time back with your family 🙂

    1. Nikki, words of your training got to us in Abuja through your participants. All acknowledged that they were tremendously enriched and well tutored. Keep the fire aglow, you can change the word by changing people!!

  3. Nicky! It is great to see you. You have done amazing job! Congratulations! Have fun with your family 🙂 And best of luck for the rest of your assignment!

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