Graduate's charity helps disadvantaged in Nigeria
Date: 30th Oct 2018
A kind-hearted graduate who set up a fundraising charity helping provide healthcare in her native Nigeria says she was inspired to help others through witnessing the impact of voluntary work at Buckinghamshire New University.
BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) graduate Mary Okuku, 40, set up the Golden Glimpse Health Foundation (GGHF) in Nigeria more than two years ago and it has raised money for a range of good causes in the country.
Working with a dozen volunteers, the charity’s work has included helping people understand how to manage their health through talks or workshops on breast and prostate cancer awareness and screening in communities.
It has also helped to finance and provide free medical care in prisons for sick inmates and donated medicines to a prison's clinic. This sees anything from 145 to 203 inmates seen in a visit by a team of doctors and nurses.
It also provides support for people in hospitals unable to pay for treatment, ranging from dialysis care to the cost of carrying out surgery.
The charity also organises free hepatitis B screening and vaccination in communities, with anyone tested positive referred to hospital; free medical care in villages, particularly in hard-to-reach areas; and distribution of mosquito nets and the administration of mass deworming to villagers.
Mary won an award while she was studying as Student Rep of the Year at the Bucks New University’s Students’ Union Awards, for representing her course.
She said: “I was inspired to start the charity through the numerous activities of Bucks New University’s Students’ Union.
“Due to my work placement I was unable to participate myself but I observed that they were always making an impact on their community around through their charity works and volunteering.
“These include the Raise and Give (RAG) charity projects they are involved in; and work with Macmillan Cancer Support, as well as activities including painting part of a school nearby.
“I was touched by their actions and thought about how I could help impact my community and environment on my return to Nigeria.
Pictured: Mary Okuku with volunteers to the Golden Glimpse Health Foundation.
“I observed that healthcare was a big challenge as many could not afford to take care of their health so I chose to help by going to hard-to-reach areas, such as prisons, communities and hospitals, to support and help reduce the rate of avoidable deaths.
“The work my charity does gives me a sense of fulfilment and I am very happy to see the less privileged and the poor regaining their lost hope of getting proper medical care.
“I am happy to see someone’s life saved and prolonged through the work of the charity.”
Speaking about studying at Bucks New University, she said: “Studying at Bucks New University was the biggest thing to ever happen to me and an experience I will not forget in my entire life.
“I came to Bucks New University as a novice who could hardly communicate with people and was very afraid of speaking in the presence of people. I did not have that confidence in myself in public.
“But Bucks changed everything and my confidence grew as, almost every week, as students we were shared in groups to do power point presentation on a topic.
“I had no knowledge of computers before starting my studies, but the University greatly helped us through its Learning Development Unit, who took their time and were very patient to teach us despite my slow understanding.
“The constant presentations in class in Bucks New University has subsequently helped me now and helped build my confidence and I can now comfortably handle and deliver any presentation, able to engage well with the public during the GGHF outreaches.
“Evidence-based practice was one of the courses I did at Bucks New University, and with that knowledge I do health sensitisation workshops based on the most current available evidence. I started as a novice at Bucks New University with regards to doing presentations but returned to Nigeria refined, confident, well-packaged and more grounded in public speaking.”
Ruth Trout, Course Leader International for BSc (Hons) Nursing and Healthcare, said she was not surprised to see Mary doing so well.
She said: “She was an excellent student at Bucks, winning the Students’ Union Awards Course Rep of the Year award whilst studying at the University.
“Mary always stated that she intended to make a difference to healthcare provision on her return back home, and it is clear that she has been able not only to do this, but also to engage others in her mission so that a team of practitioners are working together to improve patients' lives.
"She is an excellent example of what education and gaining confidence in your personal abilities can achieve.”