If there is one medical drama that I love is Greys Anatomy. Besides the personal drama of their lives and the amazing life quotes that leave you dazzled, you really get to learn a lot about diseases and conditions that doctors encounter in their profession.
I swear many times I have desired to become a doctor thanks to Shonda Rhimes creativity….but blood and I are just not friends. So why do I like Greys Anatomy…because I learn. I hear about a disease and am interested to know more about it. Never would I have ever learnt of Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, orthopaedic or paediatrics mambo jambo if it was not for Greys Anatomy.
Sometime last year, the internet was taken over by the ALS ice bucket challenge which was a huge campaign for weeks with number of people, both famous and just common men, pouring on themselves ice cold water in order to raise awareness of this condition; a condition that I myself had never heard of till when I saw Bill Gates, Kerry Washington and Greys Anatomy cast accepting the challenge.
As the bucket of water poured on them, I shrieked because I could only imagine how cold that water might be, considering the fact that it had been raining for the past few days and we were experiencing our “winter season” at that time.
But the whole essence of the ice bucket challenge was to give a person a chance to experience the slightest feeling of how your nerves freeze when ice water lands on your whole body- since the ALS is a disease of the nerves. It is a case of stepping into one’s shoes for even just a minute so as to experience their daily challenge.
For every action, always do expect a reaction in most circumstances. And whereas the ALS Ice bucket challenge had so far received a lot of donations and support, it also had its share of critics. One lady stated that:
“Humanity died!!Keep doing your ice bucket shit. Just because you can donate when in real sense you wasting what could save a life. Not just saying this cause I am African! You got to understand when stupidity has gone to a higher level and trim it down”
After reading that comment, I was appalled. Why? Is what they are doing wrong? How is this even stupid?
No offence but if people feel like pouring onto themselves a bucket full of cold water in order to raise awareness of a disease….then let it be. Why should we cry that such a challenge is wastage of water that could be donated somewhere else that somewhere being Africa? Why can’t we just allow them to do as they please with their resources?
Furthermore, it is their resources and if they chose to use them as they please so be it. And in the end, doesn’t another human being seek to benefit from this “stupid” challenge? Doesn’t this challenge reflect that humanity is alive and kicking and reinvented in a fun way? And who even said that it is only Africa that requires donations?
Why not Asia or Middle East? Or some island in the ocean that risks extinction? Why should we us Africans always look at what the West (in this context it would be the “stupid people pouring on themselves water”) is doing then cry out to them for not donating enough or supporting us?
I am tired of Africa being viewed as a Continent of donations and hand me downs; a Continent waiting to be saved by the Western world from the failures of their leaders who are more in love with the power and prestige.
I am tired of Africans perceiving themselves as the victims waiting for their Saviour to come and redeem them in the form of foreign aid and donation. Do not get me wrong! I have nothing against foreign aid or donations as long as they come with no strings attached.
Why do we not create our own heroes and hold our leaders accountable for our resources and their protection? Why do we not try to store more than enough so that we have resources in surplus? Why do we not take the lead in ensuring that we help to save another life instead of waiting for the Government or the white volunteers?
The ALS ice bucket challenge should be a challenge for all of us. No am not saying that we pour on ourselves cold water. I believe that this challenge is a continuous wake up call to us as Africans. We need to come up with our own challenges. Challenges that will steer up public participation and will still be fun to do it.
Let us find a cause that we can relate to and then promote it. Let us find that one thing that is worth fighting for and we do it. If it is a challenge of planting a tree a month or communally cleaning up the cities/town, let us find something that we believe is worth raising awareness for.
Why not have a Tree Planting Challenge? Or Street Manners Challenge? Or Help a Street Child Challenge? Or Civic Education Challenge? Or Get to Know Your Neighbour Challenge? Or Cleanest Street Challenge? Or Know Your Rights Challenge? Or Help a Stranger challenge? If you actually think about it, there are a lot of things that we can do that can be disguised as challenges.
Case in point is the Rice Bucket Challenge that started in India and spread over to other Asian countries. The challenge was simple…fill a bucket with rice, give it to a needy person or family then nominate three other people to do it. The founder of the challenge understood that in India,
ALS doesn’t affect so many people as compared to hunger and poverty. So instead of challenging people to pour ice bucket water on themselves – considering the fact that access to water is a luxury – the founder challenged people to give out a bucket of rice.
Even if I don’t know any more facts about ALS today than I did yesterday, at least I know the name and the existence of such. I am aware that such a disease exists and somewhere is suffering from it and their family is hurting. This is how awareness is born. Its how education begins.