When I first met the twins in November, they looked clean and healthy, with good clothing and I almost couldn’t believe that just some months ago they were hustling for food on the streets of Lagos. I read their files in the comfort of my room. Struggling to digest the details I discovered, I called the kids in and interviewed them. When they finished their story, they left my room and took my sleep with them.
These kids have inspired me to do all I can with the little I have in the worst circumstance. And you most probably wonder why I’m drawing inspiration from the streets but these kids aren’t ordinary.
While I lazed off during my almost-all-expense paid study in Unilag trying to get a degree in a boring course just so I could get an equally boring job with enough pay to maintain my old ones, a flat, two cars and a hot chic (in that particular order…at that time), these two boys were on the streets of Lagos trying to get daily bread. Without any hope for the future, no shelter, no food and a mother that was increasingly becoming a liability than an asset due to lack of reasonable employment, the kids decided to get an education for themselves in a free school they couldn’t even afford. In the day, they worked as windshield cleaners. In the evenings, they would join their street friends from Ketebee to beg from the fun seekers on the beaches of Ketebe and Kuramo. All in all, N200 or so at the end of the day; not even enough for the daily bread, literally.
To improve their income, they learnt to use roller skates so they could distribute flyers in traffic for a fee. As dangerous as it is, they became quite excellent in skating and were able to land good jobs. The enterprise paid off soon as they were able to make N1000 off a customer. Without wasting time, they approached the free school they couldn’t afford and enrolled for a term, using the money to purchase uniforms.
They were all set to leave school again after the expiration of their N1000 but help came in form of The Destiny Trust, a charitable coalition of young professionals who are concerned about the welfare of children generally, and the well-being of abused, neglected and homeless children in particular.
The twins were quickly put in school again, this time one privately owned, and arrangements were quickly made to give them shelter and provide for their feeding. This was in 2012. By 2013, one of the twins had baffled all and sundry with his academic exploits, his brother not too far behind.
Last month I spent some time reflecting on the achievements of these twin boys. I realized immediately that the attitude in them was of great hunger for success right from the onset. Most of the kids I know on the streets hustle for food and others are already involved in smoking and drinking. Yet these two boys, right in the middle of every social ill and vice; thugs, drugs, prostitution, bla bla…right in all of that, they kept their resolve to acquire an education. I look back at all the education I’ve received as a right, not a privilege, and I wonder what I’ve done with it. I wonder if I would have made headway in my life if I had been abandoned on the streets to make a living. I wonder if I wouldn’t be running one of the Baba Ijebu kiosks today or running after buses in green and white outfit shouting Up National. I wonder…
The right opportunity may never come if we wait and do nothing. Rather, what makes us successful is what we do whole waiting for that big break. Me? I’m giving N1000 to The Destiny Trust as they continue their quest to educate 100 kids this summer, while waiting for the big break that’ll allow me give even more in the future.