Welcome to Nigeria!

On Monday I arrived at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) office in Abuja. I was introduced to all the employees and was greeted with a very warm welcome and lots of smiles – so far so good! My first stop was at the office of the deputy country director for an intro. It was an inspiring start to the day and one thing that I won’t forget him saying is that the company’s profits were the number of lives saved.

My first week largely consisted of reading and more reading which I expected being a new bee. As the fruit of my labour I will give you a very short summary of the project I will be working on:

Aim: To expand women’s access to contraception in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Why: Women have a serious unmet need for family planning. Reducing unintended pregnancies will reduce the associated negative health outcomes and unsafe abortions. Additionally the lack of facilities puts these women and their babies at risk.

The Stats: The national maternal mortality rate is 576 and 400 deaths per 100,000 live births in Nigeria and Ethiopia respectively. In northern Nigeria the figure is as high as 1271! There are many stats but this one stood out.

What contraception: Long Acting Reversible Contraception such as intrauterine devices (commonly known as the coil) and implants (inserted under the skin to release hormones to prevent pregnancy). These methods are cost effective and can last up to 12 years.

Impact: Reduce maternal and neonatal mortality.

CHAI have already done some truly amazing work in this area and I look forward to being a part of it!

So as you know it’s my first time working in a new company! What differences / similarities have I noticed so far?

  • Wherever you go there are acronyms! I already have 2 pages worth of them.
  • Regular daily power cuts – no one is phased. Gives the phrase keep calm and carry on new meaning!
  • The fire exit strategy involves jumping from a balcony to the adjacent roof using some chain as support. Good thing there are no fire drills!
  • The barb wire as you enter CHAI is striking. Certainly hits home as to where you are!


  • Teams do not sit together. You will find in a group office, each person will be from a different team. This is done purposely to promote awareness, idea sharing and cross functionality – it really works!
  • The conversations. At GSK we talk KPIs and processes. Here I hear conversations on the number of child deaths and strategies to increase education to village leaders. So different and humbling!


On a lighter note Mindy (GSK Taiwan volunteer) and I had our first excursion in Abuja. We went to by SIM cards for our local phones – what an adventure!!!


Note: All comments and opinions written in this blog are entirely my own.










  1. Hi, Very interesting read.you are experiencing completely different type of world. This will open your mind and widen your thoughts. I know you are very compassionate and do your best to help these desperately needed women and children. Very proud of you. Mum

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Very impressed!! Keep up the good work & take care. Feel so proud that you have taken this challenge to make life better to those who need it most.
    Best wishes & take care. X

  3. This is a much needed project for women. I am so proud that you have taken this step to help these vulnerable women to help to build a better health and future!!
    Keep up the good work and take care of I our self.

  4. Hello Jeevini, great blog post! Interesting about the office seating arrangements, maybe this is something we could take back to GSK.

  5. Hi Jeevini, it looks like a very good start!! your blog is already inspiring 🙂 Take care and keep writing 😉

  6. Great post!! It makes me fondly recall my 6 months in Abuja! The CHAI group is really great and you’re lucky to be a part of it! Please keep the stories coming; they bering me back to my similar experiences (including the adventure of getting a local SIM card!)

    All the best to you on this great adventure!

  7. Hi Jeevs, I was simply stunned first when you said I am living in Nigeria. What a great surprise! This experience must be the best chance to see/think the value of life. Then you will revisit what you want for life and how it should be, and so on. Please enjoy every single moment and have wonderful time!
    And also please be careful about H&S and take great care of yourself! Hiroki

  8. Great smiles in your pictures, Jeevini! Hope you’re feeling more settled coming up to your one month in Abuja! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs!

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