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The Many Roads to Heaven

On Judgement day, God Almighty will gather us all: Big and small, Rich and poor, White and Black, APC and PDP, and expose all our…

On Judgement day, God Almighty will gather us all: Big and small, Rich and poor, White and Black, APC and PDP, and expose all our deeds. I sometimes imagine that it will be like a giant cinema screen where, one by one, our deeds on earth will be counted and sorted into piles designated as either good and bad (sort of like the heaps of clothes you see in the Okrika market: good, better, best). If at the end of the sorting the good deed pile outweighs the bad deed pile, the audience cheers for you and you walk majestically into heaven. Congratulations, you have hit the jackpot! Nobody should ask me what happens if the bad deed pile exceeds that of the good deeds. These days, I choose to remain optimistic for my sanity.

I choose to believe in the day of judgement because, quite frankly, it would be suicidal not to. I mean, think about it- If we are not judged in the hereafter, then it means that some people came to this world only to catch cruise. It means that all the crooks that President Buhari pardoned would have won at the end of the day. It means that Nigerians will suffer in this world and have nothing to hope for when they die. It is a frightfully depressing thought.

It is a well-known fact that charity is a good deed. Giving out to people in need not only increases our reward and chances of going to Heaven, but also releases neurotransmitters in the brain that makes us feel good about ourselves. Hence, we derive pleasure from helping others. True philanthropists will tell you that the act of charity itself is addictive; meaning that the more you give, the more you want to give. Especially if the recipient is grateful.

It is that season of the year again when Muslims fast and try to do outdo one another in good deeds, especially charity. Everywhere you go, people are distributing food packs, water and clothing. Women and children are lined up at gates of mighty houses waiting for envelopes to be disbursed. Almajiri boys are being fed in so many homes that they have to choose which houses to collect food from.  Our social media timelines are flooded with young people organising many innovative ways of giving charity. It is such a beautiful sight to behold- this season of charity that we practice only once a year.

Last week a friend reached out to me with a suggestion. Do people know that hospitals, clinics and most importantly small healthcare facilities benefit greatly from these charities? Agreed, the distribution of food items is a necessity but have we thought about the immense rewards that awaits us if people could donate a fraction of that charity to hospital equipment and services.

The COVID Pandemic exposed a wide gap and the many inadequacies of our public health system which many charitable organisations keyed into. Various organisations have donated PPEs, hospital equipment and even built isolation wards. However, charity does not have to that grand. Simply buying a packet of gloves for use in the emergency department serves as charity. Government hospitals are always running low on consumables, so small things like gloves, sanitizers, gauze, syringes, cannulars, sample bottles and IV fluids are always in demand. The cost of a syringe starts from N20 and above. Imagine buying cartons and donating to the wards or A&E. That is one less thing the patient will have to buy that day. Then imagine if more is donated, this will mean that patients or their relatives will not be asked to purchase basic items like gloves or cannulars in a government hospital before they are attended to. Can you imagine how helpful that would be?

Another form of charity in a hospital setting is to donate wheelchairs. Truth be told most public hospitals lack functioning wheel chairs. So many times, I notice that the foot rest or handles are broken and so the relatives or attendants have to improvise. The cheapest wheelchair costs from N50,000 upwards depending on the brand. There are also fairly used wheel-chairs that can be bought and donated. It is embarrassing to see patients who are unable to walk being carried by relatives into the emergency department. Or to see a woman pregnant woman struggling by herself or supported by her family, into the labour room. Other means of transportation of patients like stretchers can also be donated. 

Additionally, another idea that is not so common in this part of the world is the act of ‘adopting a ward’. Here, wealthy individuals usually adopt a certain ward e.g the paediatric ward or surgical ward and take up the financial responsibility of running the building. This is different from outsourcing maintenance of the ward or Public Private Partnership. In this case, for example, a charity can decide to take up the responsibility of providing electricity for a particular ward. Or they can install a solar inverter that will power the ward thereby providing succour to patients as well as ensuring that medical equipment can be used at all times. Adopting the ward means the charity will oversee the general maintenance of the ward i.e plumbing, electricity and repairs. Imagine if all the wards of a hospital are adopted by wealthy charities? Imagine if just one tenth of the N100 million used to purchase the APC presidential form by the many aspirants is used by the party to adopt a ward in every general hospital in the 36 states of the federation? Imagine if we all raced to carry out these types of charities? Public hospitals would thrive and services would improve tremendously.

For the extremely wealthy, another idea is to donate machines or take up the maintenance of an equipment that the hospital is struggling with. Radiological machines that require electricity 24/7 are always breaking down due to government’s struggle with power. What about if a charity organisation donates a generator solely for the machine and takes up the responsibility for providing diesel?

A few years ago, I went to the dialysis unit to see a patient. There, I overheard the nurses commending an anonymous individual who had donated N20 million to patients on dialysis. At that time, the average cost of dialysis for a first timer was about N12,000. Therefore, patients who came for treatment during that period were given free dialysis. This continued until the N20m was exhausted. Till date, I have never envied any individual more. Imagine his truck load of good deeds! This one will just cruise into heaven without any speed bumps!

There are many forms of charity. And many ways to heaven. Ultimately, they all depend on sincerity of purpose. Today, I come to you my readers, cap in hand, to please consider public hospitals. They are in dire need of help as well. And who knows? One day we might find ourselves there.

May our pile of good deeds multiply berkete! while our pile of bad deeds disappear like corruption charges in Nigeria, ameen. 

[Repeat] 

First published on April 23, 2022