The Vivian Maternity Clinic, Aveile, Nigeria


Brief History: In 2005 on my first trip to Nigeria to be with Mike Olufemi a former member of my church in Germany I had the good pleasure of meeting the High King Abebe of Aveile and of Edo State. One thing I was told no one comes before the King empty handed so I planned to bring $5,000 (donated by Mrs. Vivian a wonderful lady friend of ours) for three burr hole water wells. After some discussion I quickly learn King Abebe did not want the burr hole water wells, but a maternity clinic. The $5,000 was given to King Abebe and Vivian Maternity Clinic was birthed into this world.

Geographical and Demographics: Aveile is quite stark mainly with green tropical vegetation with some brown and red color dotting the landscape. The towns and villages are located in a delta between the barren extremely dry north and the green forest of south. Aveile is located off a main road about six hours from Lagos to the south and six hours from Abuja, the capital, to the north. The average temperature is between 90-100F with limited rain fall, except during the seasonal rain which can cause severe flooding due to poor soil development. Elevation is flat which makes travel long, hard, and dusty. Clean water is from burr hole wells, a polluted river about one mile away, and collected rain water. Food is available maybe two days of supply in local shops. Fresh goat, beef, and chicken meat are butchered daily. In summary, the geographic area is mildly tropical, humid, and barren, but not desert. Here is some sad statistics: the people of Aveile are farmers, artisans, and day labor workers with little to no education. The family structure is critical for the well being and future success of the local villages and surrounding communities. The maternity clinic services a combined population of roughly 500,000 ladies not to mention the constant migration of the ladies streaming down from the north of Nigeria due to the religious and ethnic fighting. The standard of living is very poor 9 of 10 homes lack indoor plumbing and electricity. Vectors spread disease especially malaria at alarming rates not to mention the spread of HIV/AIDS and TB often are in epic numbers. The need for healthcare education and preventive programs are critical now. With our present clinic staffing of: one administrator (Mike Olufemi), three mid-wives, and five security guards we cannot keep up with the influx of ladies from the north and an ever increasing number of births. Our meager resources quickly are depleted by the end of month. The main function of Vivian Maternity Clinic is to provide a clean and comfortable place for the predominately Muslim ladies to give birth. Presently we are delivering over 120 babies (that is more than the local hospital Jacksonville, NC closest big town to us in Sneads Ferry) each month. We also, according to our limited resources, provide health education and promotions to as many ladies and families as we can. And now the children born at the clinic are being educated by Mike and staff at the clinic. Please see the picture.

Present Challenges: Challenges are many here are our top three. The most immediate challenge is the purchasing and titling of the land the clinic is on. King Abebe passed away last year and a new King is more Muslim and not as believing Muslims and Christians can dwell together in harmony as King Abebe believed. We have started this process, but like everything in Africa legal dealings take on a life of their own and costs multiply expeditiously. Being the clinic was founded by folks and resources from the United States costs are always doubled for the clinic. Our second challenge is the ever present need for greater security for the ladies and the physical structures due to the religious fighting and terrorism in the north that drives pregnant ladies and ladies with babies south to the maternity clinic. Because of this problem and because of the local burglary and petty thugery we had to build a six foot wall topped with broken glass and barbed wire around the compound taking away critical money from our healthcare delivery. And the third challenge is our continual need for resources, things like money: money for the electric bill, money for the salaries, money for taxes, money for medical supplies, money for food for the ladies and the kids born at the maternity clinic that are being educated there, money for continual maintenance and up keep, the list goes on and on. Nigeria does not have money to give to a local maternity clinic nor does the local King we are on our own, but for God and the generosity of people who care. The clinic is stocked with extremely modern medical equipment: delivery and exam tables, ultrasound machines, a wonderful library of medical books, and so much more all donated of course, but it is the day-to-day expenses for the care and feeding of the ladies and babies that really makes this challenge significant and even a show stopper at times.

What Can I Do: They say no one really cares what you know ’til they know how much you care. What we need are people around the world to care for ladies who live is great poverty and babies who are born into a hopeless situation. Infant mortality in West Africa is some places are as high as 30%. At our clinic there is no surgical procedures performed so if a lady needs a C-section she is taken to the road in front of the clinic and hopefully someone comes by with a car or a commercial van transport to take her six hours in either direction to a hospital, but honestly the mother and the baby usually die in these situations. What we need is people who care and would want to do whatsoever to see this miracle of God continue. What we need is people to give hope. What can you do to help? If you can find it within yourself to make a donation to this cause, please know your gift will aid mothers-t0-be and their children in this impoverished area thrive.