Nigeria – Tuberculosis

Samuel from Damien Foundation and Papoola


We don't get a lot of visits

Medische primeur leidt tot vriendschap tussen tbc-patiënt en verzorger.
< Papoola welcomes Samuel from Damien Foundation like an old friend. Thanks to the months of home-based treatment for TB, a close bond has developed between the two and Papoola has been cured. “Now I just need my customers to realise that I am better, because we don't have any income at all at the moment.”

Damien Foundation - 25 years in Nigeria - tuberculosis patients
Tailor Papoola (32) is a medical first. He is the first person in Nigeria to be successfully treated for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis at home. Earlier, patients would have to leave their families and spend many months in hospital. But Papoola received his injections at home, administered by Samuel. For months, Samuel visited his patient daily to treat him. Toheeb (7), the eldest son in the family, now calls him uncle. That is how close they have become.

Apart from this, they hardly get any visits. TB is still a huge taboo in the community. The family has lost a lot of friends and the surrounding concrete houses lie empty. They live in isolation. “Customers are staying away”, sighs Papoola. “They are afraid I am going to infect them, even though I am cured. Luckily, my wife has stayed with me.”

Samuel, who has been treating tuberculosis patients for Damien Foundation since 1997, has no fear of infection. “I am determined to help and I’m really happy when I see what I’ve been able to do for Papoola. I have now treated eight patients at home, which is so much easier for those families: the impact on their lives is less drastic.”

Samuel has also taught Papoola how he can prevent the rest of the family from getting infected and together, they regularly screen all the occupants of the house. This is of crucial importance, especially since the entire family sleeps in one room. Papoola himself got infected in 2009 through his father, who also had tuberculosis.

“I am still somewhat weak, but I am gradually getting better. As soon as I am back to my old self, I'm going to devote myself to my work. Now we are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Not only are the customers staying away, but I have also had to sell my sewing machine and my entire workshop since I had gone without an income for so long.” Rachidat, his wife, earns a little money every now and then as a saleswoman. But her broken shoes are proof that even though their medical troubles are over, the socio-economic problems are by no means gone.

TEXT: Wendy Huyghe
PHOTOS: Tim Dirven @ T.Dirven for Damien Foundation

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