Saturday wasn’t fun. Okay, it was. But I don’t think I ever want to go on a trip like that in the near future (near future being the next week alone).
Maybe if I had been made aware of the fact that Egbon Beambini had devoured a large quantity of eba before the journey, I would have understood that it wasn’t going to be short and (or) easy. To wit, Egbon had unfair advantage.
We set out towards Eleko to look for poor, rural communities in a bid to help out-of-school children with the little we can. I mean…its none of our business (according to you) but we are quite the busy-bodies. We just don’t like it when we see children out of school or when they are in school, lacking school materials. We don’t like when families are unable to take care of their children and the children end up on the streets begging. An although the ultimate goal is to have tuition free schools around Nigeria providing quality education to street children, at the moment, we just want to ensure that those who have schools in their neighborhood actually go to those schools without any problem.
Cool it. You’re about to protest. “The government ought to do something about that, shouldn’t they?”. Cool it. And wait for my NTBB* List of Things I Don’t Like About The Government. Top of the the list is this: I don’t like that the government does nothing about anything I don’t like.
Anyway, Eleko isn’t exactly a poor rural community. With a beach and lots of tax (and bribe) collectors, the community is fairly well to do. So we headed to the right, without a destination.
We had been on the untarred and puddlesome* road (if it can be called that) for about an hour and had gone past three or four communities that I never knew existed before we hit Okun-Solu-Alade, a village just on the shores of the Atlantic (not convinced by the waves, I had to locate myself on my WP’s Maps). After some (much) trouble getting Beambini’s car out of the sand we literally sank into opposite a Redeem church (believe me, RCCG is everywhere!), we finally got to a school serving the community ‘s children. Established as far back as the 50s, the old school building still stands proud.
Speaking with a man who considered us very very important personalities from the top (maybe because Egbon and I had glasses on, but more probably because of the iPad and expensive looking phones…expensive looking 😉 ), we discovered that almost all the children in the area go to the school. However the staff only includes the head-teacher, his assistant and some secondary school leavers who are usually no-shows and according to the villagers, cannot speak English. They wanted an Igbo teacher (because Nollywood has made us believe that only the Igbos can speak English in hinglish fims). I’m sure they thought I had come to take up the job, no thanks to my Igbotic face. One of them actually thought I was called Olu-Uche.
The village women who spoke to us after we saw the school gave us stories of how they try to ensure that their kids remain in school despite the discouraging lack of teachers in a school of about 300 children. We heard stories of struggles in order to afford school uniforms, sandals, books and writing materials. Most of the women are cassava farmers (in Lasgidi?) making garri. I’m still wondering how much garri they are going to have to sell to make ends meet and keep body and soul together.
I think it is outstanding that the people there actually consider education important and that their children go to school. But a school without teachers? What can we do about that?
What if we have volunteer teachers who move in from time to time to offer their services to the children there? Or better still, can we offer greater incentives for good teachers to ensure they don’t consider working in such places a backward career move? These are thoughts we want to put into action (thoughtion) and while I don’t know what’s going to happen to Okun-Solu, I bet if all Nigerians can actually look around and offer help to their less-privileged compatriots, we will sooner than later ensure that we have a better society.
The Destiny Trust will be paying another visit soon enough to Okun-Solu and we won’t be there empty-handed. If we can make a difference with the little we have to give, you can too. We give hope to children and make them believe in a better future. That’s how we make a change. How do you make a change?