For most Africans born and raised abroad, “home” is not usually their final destination for investments. But for a few like Dr. Olamide, Nigeria is not just where the investment is, it is home to her as she goes about making a difference and giving health care a new definition.
The death of her younger sister was her motivation to relocate to Nigeria and start a company that could do for many other families what her family desperately needed at one point. While visiting Nigeria on a family vacation, her 12 year-old sister living with sickle cell anemia had a crisis which needed an emergency attention but the local hospital was unable to manage the condition. Dr. Ola and her family searched desperately for an air ambulance so that her sister could be safely transported to a suitable medical facility in the country but their search across West Africa yielded no fruit. The only available option was in South Africa, 5 hours away and by the time the necessary arrangements were made, her younger sister passed away.
In an interview with Bella Naija about how the tragedy motivated her to return to Nigeria to create FDN, Olamide said:
“It was really a devastating time for me and I started thinking about whether I should be in England talking about healthcare in Africa, or I should be in Africa dealing with healthcare and trying to do something about it.”
Dr. Olamide Orekunrin returned to Nigeria and founded the medical emergency service, Flying Doctors Nigeria(FDN) in 2010 and it serves all of West Africa.
7 years after startup, the company has over 20 charter aircraft, and 47 staff – 44 of whom are trained medical doctors.
Today at 31, the medical doctor Olamide Orekunrin is a helicopter pilot, and is considered a national expert of disaster medicine and pre-hospital care. She is among the young motivational speakers on Ted Talk and has been featured in many international magazines and newspapers like TIME magazine. Her company has been featured on various local TV and radio stations as well as the BBC and CNN.
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