DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH- (Ilaje Children’s Day.) By Adesola Baruwa

 

 Each moment we question our fortune, we should pause and look upon those in pain and see for the most part we are all blessed beyond expectations- that is a principle I was able to glean from the lifestyle of the Ilaje people. When the project ‘Ilaje Children’s Day’ was introduced to the faculty. I decided to join in because I was looking for a way to engage in extra-curricular activities that would build up my sense of responsibility. Little did I know that much awaited me on this great project.

The Ilaje community project committee came up under the umbrella of the Campus-to-Community initiative. The committee was set up under the general supervision of Miss Edefe Ojomo, assisted by kodichi Anigbogu, Bolu Obadeyi and Tolulope Iyanda. There was a slow and steady progress as we worked with the mindset of still having a lot of time ahead of us. However, for a more effective work, we further divided ourselves into sub-committees, but it didn’t work out after all as every member of the committee did one task not within the jurisdiction of their sub-committees at one point or the other.
     Days grew into weeks and weeks into month and we had very little on our table as regards the project. At least, I speak for the sub-committee I belonged to which is the logistics. The members of this committee like me were in charge of delivering letters to various sponsors, doing a follow-up and at least getting for the whole committee some cash with which our goals will be accomplished. Talking of which our budget was a very exorbitant one which translates to my sub-committee getting an exorbitant sum for the accomplishment of the project. Or what else could be said of a whooping budget of 396,300 naira for a children’s day celebration?
There was a slow progress as regards getting the letters to the sponsors and getting the responses required. And as second semester commenced late April, I started getting overly pessimistic about the success of the event as Tolu told me about her first encounter with one of the sponsors. The list of sponsors had been given to us earlier on. The list contained names of schools and companies that had helped in the successful organization of this same programme in times past. It was thus assumed that these same organizations would spare no effort and cash towards making the programme a huge success during our own time (I guess we assumed wrong). The first sponsor Tolu contacted was a school (the name starts with ‘G’ and ends with ‘E’) the headmistress or proprietress (I’m not quite sure which of the two she is) actually lambasted and lashed Tolu with words claiming we were impersonators. The precise words she used, I cannot categorically state now so Tolu will not say something else entirely. But they were in all entirety, very depressing and discouraging. At least from Tolu’s reaction, that’s what I could infer.
Despite all odds, we summoned up courage and went to a few other schools to deliver some letters. Guess what!? Our situation became no better. These schools gave one lame excuse or the other. The constant catch-phrase is that: “we can’t help you because we are also looking for money”. The person we communicated with in that school gave all the excuses there could possibly be in the world having ranted about how they had just resumed and how the teachers’ salary was still unpaid.
Having being disappointed by the responses we were getting from these people, we still tried hard to seek assistance from more companies and schools but to no avail. In a bid to help us, people started giving suggestions of which company we should meet and which we shouldn’t. {Thanks to Seyi Balogun}. In considering these suggestions, we went to Nestle and GlaxoSmithKline. Nestle gave an affirmative reply though for product sampling but they ended up not coming for a reason which is a mystery yet to be unraveled.
After much deliberations and meetings held, someone came up with a suggestion that every member of the committee pay a certain sum and also, financial support should be sought from all and sundry as financial aid became a stumbling block to the accomplishment of the project. The very funny “uche” took it upon herself to spearhead the new development….u definitely should have seen a chubby girl with a carton going around the faculty (she is very funny. Try spending some time with her). Nifemi spared no effort either in seeking for funds from every member of his class. We also did a group thing by putting on our shirts and going to other faculties to do our thing. I barely participated in this faculty search as I got to school late that day. I however, was able to get a little sum from a few people after much ‘famzing’. The Law Students Society saw our desperation for financial aid and thus made us a banner for enough publicity. The banner should have left the faculty by now. But if you are half as observant as I am, you must have noticed the banner in front of the faculty. Apart from this, the budget for the programme was pasted everywhere in the faculty so that willing people could pick various things from the list and undertake to either donate or make payment for them. To our utmost dismay, people and chambers responded positively. And thus began our breakthrough.
My journey to the subject of our project made me see the project in a whole new light. The road to the place, I would have said is not different from the way to my house in ikorodu, but, although the road was rough, it was like the road was sand-filled with ‘dirt’. That made the difference. The sight of children and adults staring at us (Unilag babes) like they were seeing movie stars did not put a bit of importance in me. Rather, it made me wonder as to how on earth such a place still exists where poverty lurks especially in the purported ‘MEGA-CITY’-Lagos. The path we took to the children’s school wasn’t anything to write home about. Talk about a ghetto with labyrinths. The state of the school itself wasn’t very satisfactory. The bible passage that says; “count your blessings…………” should therefore not be taken with levity as it dawned on me that the bastard called ‘poverty’ does exist, I was just too engaged with making my life better. When I hear poverty, I can only picture what I have seen on the television especially that depicted by Nollywood (we all know how Nollywood shouldn’t be trusted when it comes to depicting real life scenarios). Really seeing it with my very eyes and walking on the very soil gave me a whole new light and reason as regards the project. Hearing the story about how a girl stays with her grandma near a refuse dump and attends the school naked wrenched my heart. This is further aggravated as I was told about a girl who was privileged to get a sachet of Indomie thereby appreciating so much that she cooked half of the sachet for her breakfast, lunch and dinner. To think that I take noodles virtually every day. I really can’t say much about my childhood though. But it couldn’t have been that bad. Could it?
Anyway, preparations began in earnest as we were able to get some money. Every disappointment they say is a blessing as It soon came to my discovery when after all the struggle for funds, God blessed us with two wonderful sponsors; Barrister Kayode Sofola (SAN) and the non-governmental organization-‘poverty ends here’. It soon dawned on me that He (God) wanted us to do something great towards the accomplishment of the program. That something great being moving from faculty to faculty asking for donations. With God on our sides and with the help of many men through which God has extended his favors, the program I would say was a huge success. The children were actually very happy and it gladdened my heart to actually be one (although a minute one) of the reasons why the smile and joy was plastered there on their faces. Even in their lack, they still dressed their best. You needed to see the “geles” on a few of the children’s head. The children were so excited that they had started arriving while decorations were still on. That made it very difficult to get their hands off the balloons with which we were decorating the hall. You must agree with me, children can be very annoying sometimes. Whether Ilaje or VGC, children are children. The programme went on smoothly as the dancers danced, singers sang, fashion ‘paraders’ paraded and so on. I cannot do but mention the name of a boy who got everybody’s attention in the programme- Segun popularly called Segzy. That boy is a ‘BOSS’ at dancing. I wonder where he possessed such a dancing skill. His dance is just a ‘wow’. He is also reputed for his stubborn streak, liked by all alongside other cute kids.…..Mention must also be made of the ‘egun’ cultural dancers. I don’t know about others but I was personally impressed about their dance. To sum it all up, not only did the kids have fun, we also did. Although there were some challenges faced, like; the bus conveying the party-packs and other refreshments getting stuck in ilaje swampy and dirt-filled road; and other community children rushing to the venue at the point of sharing the party-packs, we overcame them.
Therefore, appreciation goes first to the Almighty God who made all things possible. To Miss Edefe Ojomo through whom the two major sponsors we met and also our much adored shirts were gotten. So if you think you want one, go pester her. She could get you one. (I would rather you asked for color red because it’s the coolest).P.S: It’s not for free, we paid for it. Barrister Kayode Sofola (SAN); words alone can’t describe our gratitude for the good hands of favor he extended towards us. He is therefore worthy of a big THANK YOU. ‘POVERTY ENDS HERE’ is also another wonderful sponsor that should be greatly appreciated as they gave the highest support required to our cause. If only we could have our way, we would write that inscription ‘poverty ends here’ on our everyday attire to show how grateful we really are. The law student society should also be given credit. For without them, the refreshment could have been a great flop and the chances of us getting financial assistance from students could have been very low as they helped with the publicity. To all the chambers and societies, especially Taslim Elias chambers and Justice Kayode Eso chambers, a big thank you I say. Also to every students in the faculty of law who contributed in cash or kind, never mind the fact that you did or contributed very little. Tiny drops of water they say makes a mighty ocean. The little things you think you paid helped us to commence preparations. Therefore thanks a big deal. The very one thing regretted is having not recorded your names for proper gratitude but bear in mind that you have helped in putting a smile on those children’s faces. And also, “blessed is he who does for the right without the left knowing…….” To the entire school community, I say a very big THANK YOU. Mention must also be made of the machineries through whom the policies of the project were actualized- the members of the committee who have spared no effort and have committed their time to the project. GOD BLESS US ABUNDANTLY.
In conclusion, I ask: have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and seen a stranger in the background? Makes you wonder how many strangers have a picture of you. How many people’s lives have we been in? Were we a part of someone’s life when their dreams came true? Or were we there when their dreams died? Just think, you could be a part of someone’s life and not know it. I know I am a part of those kids’ life. Although they may see me tomorrow and not recognize me, I know they will never forget this one moment in their lives when members of the campus to community group of the law student society put a smile on their faces. A stunning moment which will live on forever in their hearts.
»»This Touching yet Interesting Piece is courtesy Baruwa Adesola (Class of ’15)

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11 Comments

  1. Awww…so nice, this is a really cool project. You guys have upped the standard, God bless evry1

  2. Praying God bring happiness on the faces of evry1 who chose to be part of this…. The last paragraph perfectly sums up the theme conveyed in the write-up

  3. Nycc writeup!yhhh segun can’t be 4gotten…nd den d looks we got;like we dropd frm heaven was priceless…God help those children achieve deir dreams nd nt end up as hooligans….God bless C2C

  4. I read this piece with tears dripping from my eyes.words can’t express what I felt inside of me to see students carry out these project while our govt officials throw lavish party for their own children.my dear God bless u guys beyond measure.

  5. My God!!! I’m sorry, but, did I just download all d pics on dis page?
    Wow!!!!!! Classic!
    Nice one Sola… Nice one #poverty ends here#
    On the one hand, I’m really proud of myself that I didn’t let the opportunity to help a child slide when Sola ‘famzed’ me for donations. But, on d other hand, I regret the fact that I wasn’t there to capture the joy in those children’s faces!!!
    Wow! Thank God I’m a student from the best faculty in Unilag, the only faculty where such an idea like #poverty ends here# can arise!!!!!!
    God bless you all…
    God bless NIGERIA!!!!!

  6. Big-ups to everyone that made the project a success ….can’t help but comment, we are doing something right..we need more of this (Blessed is he who does for the right without the left knowing)…on point like a decimal.

  7. …blessed his HE,who does for the Right without the left knowing… Truly, its heart-touching. You’ve given a good account as an eye-witness which gives room for much understanding. Big ups to everyone though, God Bless.

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