On Monday, March 8th of 2021, beating drums and traditional Nigerian singing filled the grounds of aihwa's Hope Center. Despite the heat, colorful robes with bold prints and jewelry adorned the many guests that were arriving to be a part of aihwa's Integrated Medical Clinic commissioning ceremony.
By noon, a formidable and influential crowd was swiftly forming in the shade of the awnings on the front lawn of the Medical Center. Perched on the plush seating included Mother Sarah Jubril, Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinmma, and the Esun Nupe King of Niger State.
Scattered among the other seats on the property were special members of the local Owerri community and their families. All of which were coming together to celebrate and spread the news of Hope Center’s Integrated Medical Clinic opening.
Once our guests had arrived, the music grew louder and everybody began to take their seats. As is the custom in Nigeria, our respected guests were presented with a gift. I watched as the local children, dressed in their finest traditional clothing, danced up the walkway to the beating of the drums. A basket of kola nuts (a symbol of hospitality, respect, and friendship) was held and offered by the oldest while each of their parents proudly smiled on the sidelines.
Towards the end of the ceremony, Former President Goodluck Jonathan, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinmma, the Esun Nupe King of Niger State, and aihwa President/CEO Kenny Udumka gathered up to the front of the Integrated Medical Clinic. The press rushed ahead, hoping to claim the best angle as the men approached a ribbon strung across the front entrance. Then, together, they reached out and allowed former president Goodluck Jonathan to perform the honor of cutting the ribbon. The crowd cheered as it fell to the ground and the music grew faster. It was all I could do to not jump up and down with excitement at the symbolic declaration of the Integrated Medical Clinic's opening.
Of everything I experienced on this day, the most incredible aspect of this ceremony was to watch these politicians, royalty, and determined doctors along with engineers and students from all across Nigeria (and even the world) come together to endorse and support aihwa's vision. It did not matter to them what their culture, religion, home state, or other differences might be. All that mattered is the shared vision of creating a better future for the Nigerian people.