Fall, Brush Off the Dust and Walk Tall Again!

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By: Peris Wakesho, Young Champion of Maternal Health

This blog post was contributed by Peris Wakesho, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.

At exactly three minutes past three pm, on my way back to INCRESE (the organization where I am based), just before I turened the last corner, the motorbike driver lost control and we fell to the ground!

Motorbikes are the most common mode of transportation here, and though sometimes there are concerns of safety related to the driver’s competency, there are not many transportation alternatives and therefore they are a necessary evil.

As I jumped, just before the motorbike hit the ground and fell on my other foot, i shook off the dust from my hands and feet, asked the motorbike driver if he was okay, paid him his mony and walked to the centre. The first staff I saw noticed I was somehow half smiling and shaking my head- the first words I could tell them were “My worst fear has become a reality!”

Ever since September 2010, when I came to Nigeria, one constant thing that has scared me whenever I had to go out and the only option available was a motorbike, has been the fear of falling from a motorbike. Today I stood at the centre shaking, in deep thought and thanking God that it did not happen on the busy road and that I am fine.

Amidst all these thoughts, I thought to myself, “This is part of the experience when working in communities; not just sharing their food, air, water, and empathizing with them, but also experiencing some of the challenges first hand.” The beauty of this experience is that it reaffirms how even as I wind up my fellowship program, which marks the beginning of my long journey as a social entrepreneur aiming to influence others to be changemakers in the maternal health field, some things are apparent: I have fears of how well I will be able to implement my project. Will the community see its viability and want to be part of it?  How many adolescents’ lives will I impact positively ?  Will I fall?  And if I fall, which might happen, just like what happened when I fell from the motorbike, I will have to gracefully stand up, see that the team I work with is okay and ready to continue, brush off the dust, and move forward, because this is the only way that i will make a positive difference. It is not just about the falling, but what I do thereafter.

As to whether I will ride a motorbike again, that I cannot say for sure.  But there is one thing I do know–I have learned the lesson that what we fear may come to pass, so the earlier and faster we embrace its reality and move on, the better.