A Nigerian Doctor who takes pay cuts to serve poor

“Africans who have had the privilege of getting outstanding training and education abroad
must mobilize their network of influence to transform our continent…
I believe that happiness doesn’t come from what you get, rather,
it comes from what you give.
There is always room to give;
you don’t need to be a millionaire to give.”
– Dr. Olawale Sulaiman

Dr. Olawale Sulaiman is a professor of neurosurgery and spinal surgery and chairman for the neurosurgery department and back and spine center at the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute in New Orleans
Dr. Olawale Sulaiman

Editor’s Note: In the summer of 1979 I visited India, travelling south to Tamil Nadu and a leprosy hospital, with the preferred destigmatizing title “Holy Family Hansenorium”, run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. There I met Dr. Jacob, one of the most inspiring medics I’ve ever had the privilege of encountering. A highly intelligent and talented Indian doctor who could have emigrated to Europe or North America for a more luxurious life. Instead, he chose to perform daily miracles on India’s poorest of the poor. Therein he found treasure beyond measure.

On October 4th, CNN offered a similar story of a Nigerian neurosurgeon, Dr. Olawale Sulaiman who, together with his wife, Patricia, now divide their time between Nigeria and New Orleans, performing life-changing surgeries and training other doctors and nurses.

Dr. Sulaiman was born into a poor family on Lagos Island who were unable to pay his university fees. His keen intellect was spotted and he was fortunate to be given the opportunity to travel to Bulgaria for medical training. Sulaiman is one of hundreds of thousands of privileged Africans who could so easily be part of the brain drain. Sulaiman, however, realizes the importance of giving back to the continent that provided him with the opportunity to progress. He is now engaged in trying to reverse the impact of the brain drain effect:

“Africans who have had the privilege of getting outstanding training and education abroad,” he told CNN, “must mobilize their network of influence to transform our continent,”

Consequently, Dr. Sulaiman decided it was important to extend his expertise back to Nigeria, using his vacation time for medical missions as well as education and training sessions.

The young doctor has negotiated a 25% pay cut with his American employer in exchange for longer holidays to Nigeria to pursue his passion. To date the NGO he and Patricia Sulaiman established have treated more than 500 patients and provided preventative medicine to up to 5,000 people.

Philosophically he muses: “I believe that happiness doesn’t come from what you get, rather, it comes from what you give. There is always room to give; you don’t need to be a millionaire to give.”

You may read the full CNN Report by clicking here.

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