After 22 hours flight connecting in Hong Kong and Addis Ababa, I arrived in Abuja, Nigeria where I will have my PULSE assignment at CHAI (Clinton Health Access Initiatives) for 6 months. Just when I thought it was a smooth arrival after immigration, the airport pick up driver arranged by CHAI didn’t show up. Carrying my suitcase and backpacks searching for a paper with my name under the sun wasn’t a joyful experience but it didn’t bother me that much. Somehow I have expected this may happen. While I was thinking of calling CHAI, the airport security guy was very kind to remind me not to use my cell phone in public which may lead me an easy target for crime. He offered to call by using his phone and with his help I was able to reach CHAI people to re-arrange a driver immediately. My initial impression of Nigeria was the kindness of its people and this hasn’t been changed till now.
My first 2 weeks experience at CHAI was amazing. In addition to a very warm welcome offered by all CHAI employees, my on-boarding sessions were arranged in a very structured and organised way by the team I am working with. In order to best utilise my expertise and create the most memorised work experience in Nigeria, CHAI assigned me a wide range of job objectives from project management, supply chain analysis to demand generation campaign. I am very excited about the challenge and the variety of job scope. In just 2 weeks, I already created a project plan and completed fish bone analysis for the project to improve primary health care performance. Meanwhile, I have also supported a teammate to complete our work plan for Malaria RDT (Rapid Diagnostic Test) awareness campaign. Till this moment, I didn’t feel any difficulty to adjust myself to work in Nigeria since CHAI is as efficient and fast pace as GSK. I am also pleased with the fact that I could be very productive to make contribution from day one!
Life in Nigeria has been full of fun and adventure so far. Due to unstable electricity supply, power outage may happen several times a day while we are at work, shopping in a super market or even during morning shower! Nigerian are like never bothered by the sudden darkness and soon I also got used to it and could continue whatever I was doing in the dark. During my 1st week in Nigeria, CHAI people took me and another GSK volunteer, Jeevini, to apply for a local SIM card. To our surprise, it was roadside with just a few tables and chairs! The CHAI driver explained to us that normally it would be a long queue if we apply it in the shop so telecom sometimes arranged a few service stands outside its shop in order to serve more customers. Even though just a roadside stand, the service was not compromised. The telecom staff registered data, collected finger prints and took photos all by a small device on his hand. Even cutting SIM card to fit my phone was done in just a minute! I was really impressed and enjoyed this special experience.
Abuja is a modern city mainly built in 1980s so it didn’t take me much efforts to adjust myself to live here. However, this doesn’t diminish the fun to explore this city and people’s life here. I can’t wait for more adventures in the coming months!