Diaspora Community in the US Remembers Home

Nchia General Hospital, Ogale lying on five hectares of land along the old Port Harcourt – Bori Road in Rivers State was built in the 1970s during the military regime of Lt. Cdr Alfred Diette-Spiff. But the hospital had not really operated in full capacity due to neglect by successive governments.

For most of the years, the compound was overgrown and patients in its catchment areas in Eleme and Tai Local Government Areas had to seek medical care elsewhere. Those that could not afford to go to Port Harcourt and Okrika, had to make do with native doctors and herbalists.

That was the story before the Rivers State Government decided two years ago to rehabilitate the hospital, whose structures had become dilapidated, with power supply cut off. It was miraculous that patients with serious cases survived in the hospital, said Promise Gomba, an Eleme indigene and Chairman of the Board of Ofalarun Eleme USA, an association of Eleme people living in the United States.

Okanje and Amejima Chu
Okanje and Amejima Chu

Recalling his personal experience in the hospital, Gomba said, “In 2001 my mother died. She was put in that mortuary. I came here and I did not like what I saw. In 2002 my 16-year-old daughter was born in this hospital. My wife was in labour from 6pm to 4 in the morning. What was the problem? They said there was too much mosquito and heat. And I said something is going to be done.”

That was the beginning of the effort by Ofalarun Eleme USA to improve the facilities in the hospital and give residents and people of Eleme good healthcare. With the support of Arlington Assemblies of God Church, Virginia USA, Ofalarun Eleme and a retired US marine, Adolf Neuman, and his wife a reverend, mobilised hospital equipment worth several millions of dollars and shipped them to Nigeria.

Back in Nigeria, the effort was backed by Elano Investments Limited, a community based company involved in the social and infrastructure development of the host communities of Indorama Eleme Petrochemicals Limited, which bankrolled the clearing and delivery of the equipment.

Among the facilities were electronic beds, electronic wheelchairs, delivery equipment, surgical facilities, mattresses, chairs, tables consumables and other equipment that were delivered in a 40-foot container.

Chairman of Elano Investments Limited, Gomba Okanje, was full of praise for the Diasporans, stating that with such collaborations the development of Eleme would be rapid. “It is a wonderful thing. We cannot all wait for government to do everything for us. If we all can do our little bit to support what the government is doing, the society will be a better place for us all,” Okanje said.

The President of Ofalarun Eleme USA, Joe Obarichinwi, said the delivery of the hospital equipment was the third in a series that OEUSA and Arlington Asemblies of God had made to the hospital. “Elano has exceeded our expectations in terms of quality performance in delivering the equipment to the hospital. We are determined that the people of Eleme get the best healthcare. But we need collaborations,” he said.

Neuman, who is one of the major financiers of the project, appealed to Rivers State Government to restore power supply to the hospital. He lamented that without power supply, it would be difficult to use some of the donated equipment.

The equipment were received by the Medical Director of the Hospital, Dr. Amejima Chu, who expressed overwhelming joy over the donation of the equipment. “What you find here (the equipment), you cannot even find in teaching hospitals,” enthused.

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