Yusuf Ojoola is a 26-year-old Nigerian expat who came to Moscow to study medicine nine years ago. In 2009, he started Doctors Act, an organization that raises awareness of ethical medical issues and sends volunteers to poorer countries. In July, Doctors Act will send volunteers to South Sudan, Ghana, Uganda and South Africa.
Q: What was your inspiration for starting Doctors Act?
A: Doctors Act started as a forum for medical students in Russia. I noticed that during my time in university, they didn't really discuss the ethical side of medicine. I decided to start seminars where we discussed these issues, inviting professional speakers to give us advice. After a trip to Malaysia with another organization in 2010, I realized that as medical students, we could make a difference in communities by offering our services and knowledge. We started organizing our own trips to other countries last year.
Q: How do you raise money and support for your projects?
A: We set up as many social events in Moscow as possible. Early this year, we ran a screening at the Dome Cinema and last month, we held a musical concert. We have also managed to gain support from different institutions. The Nigerian Embassy helped to partly sponsor our 2011 trip to South Sudan. This year, we are working closely with the Ugandan Embassy and the consulate for South Africa. The Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University has also helped us.
Q: What is the hardest part about organizing mission trips?
A: We go to villages where there may not be clean, running water or electricity. We have to tell volunteers this without making them feel too apprehensive.
Q: How does your faith tie in with the charity?
A: My Christian beliefs are a strong part of what I do for Doctors Act. As an organization, we want to reach out to people, whether that's by offering medical advice or running mobile clinics in less privileged areas abroad.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about being a volunteer?
A: The smiles we get from those we help. It's nice to know we can make a change with the little things we do. When we went to South Sudan, people there were so grateful for simple pieces of advice on health care, something that we usually take for granted. Also, while we were out there, some of our medical volunteers helped to deliver two babies. That was a highlight for me.