December 07


A wizard and an expert!

Wow I have less than a week until I say goodbye to my temporary life in Nigeria. It has been such an incredible experience (not without its challenges and frustrations!) and on the whole it has whizzed past. Being honest there have been weeks when I have felt so far away from the UK and the end didn’t seem to be getting any closer. But here I am with the final countdown!

The last couple of months have been particularly busy with travel out of Abuja for meetings and workshops. There have been some memorable moments!

I participated in a 4 day workshop a few weeks ago with one of the state ministry of health and other partner NGOs. The aim was to develop a plan of how much of the maternal, newborn and child health commodities the state would need to procure in 2016 & 2017.

I arrived as a participant and left as the excel ‘wizard’! The data to determine the forecast was huge and as I watched them struggling to pull together multiple tabs and spreadsheets I stepped in to show them some shortcuts. By the end of day 1 I was being summoned between the break out groups “Mah Mah, teacher teacher”. During one of the end of day reviews the consultant running the meeting thanked god for bringing me to the meeting and called me a wizard “working excel magic”! I chuckled because I wish I could say I was teaching them advanced macros but actually it was linking sheets, basic formulae, freezing panes & filtering! But their willingness to learn and practise was great to see, particularly as the workshop held over a weekend!


Last week I travelled with the whole of CHAI Nigeria team to the south to Akwa Ibom state to participate in their end of year meeting. It was a fantastic opportunity to hear each of CHAI’s programs run through their 2015 achievements and plans for 2016, the programs include: Malaria, Drug Access, Vaccines, Essential Medicines and of course Maternal and Newborn Health. We also heard overviews from their new programs kicking off in 2016; Cancer, Nutrition and Human Resources for Health.

As part of the meeting we had ‘team building’ exercises which showcased the ‘passion’ Nigerians are known for (code for very competitive and vocal!). Trivia night was like no other I have seen – people shouting, everyone on their feet, having to turn the chairs around of people answering the question due to accusations of cheating and a dispute with the final score! The next day the ‘CHAI Olympics’ fuelled the embers from the night before, with my boss saying to the team “this is all about winning, if you don’t think you can do well don’t put yourself forward, this isn’t about participation”! You should have seen the sprint relay!


For the first half of my final week I am currently in Cameroon supporting the CHAI team and Department of Family Health with their first maternal, neonatal and child commodity quantification. Apparently they needed an ‘expert’ and my name was thrown in the ring having done it once in Nigeria! But a great experience to end my assignment, even if it is testing my GCSE French!


I will be back in Abuja Wednesday evening, with my last two days in the office before flying home this weekend. I have started compiling some ‘top 10’ lists from my assignment to share with you in my next (and potentially last!) blog – stay tuned!