It is so hard to find time to write anything down these says. One good thing about living on a compound in Nigeria was there weren't so many other distractions because you really had not too many other places to be.:) I had my Happiness and the kids were happy with their friends on the compound, and I had so much more time to write about my thoughts and feelings about living in Lagos. Now, my time is filled with car rides, homework and very early mornings because without my Happiness here...there is so much more work to do!!!!! Can you tell I miss her????!!!!
I checked my email today and saw that a contributor for World Mom's Blog, a blog I also contribute to as well, let us know that October 15, 2012 is Blog Action Day. I went to their facebook page and I was inspired. The whole goal of this day is for bloggers all over the world to write about one theme for this day, and this year the theme is "The Power of We" where bloggers can write about making a positive difference in the world right in their own communities or half way around the world. So, I am putting my evening counter wiping and last sweeping of dog hair aside to finally sit down and just. write.
Asking for help has always been something I have struggled with....I don't like to admit that I could be wrong about something and that I actually can't do something all by myself. For some reason, I have always thought that if I had to ask for help it was a sign that I had failed somehow or some way. I had always heard the quote, "It takes a village to raise a child." and I had listened but tucked it way back in that part of your brain that seems to collect dust because there are too many other things to think about. Then, I moved to Lagos, Nigeria and wouldn't you know that that very quote is a Nigerian Proverb??!! If you want to see and read about my first impressions moving to Lagos as an American expat, you can check out my blog archive but I can put it into three words for you right here: shocking, heartbreaking , and exhilarating.
I thought I knew what poverty was before I moved to Lagos. Not because I had any real first hand experience, but because I had seen homeless people on the sides of streets and sometimes had rolled my window down a sliver to drop a bit of money to them. But, nothing prepared me for the utter destitution and desperation I would see in Lagos. When I say that many people living in this city have nothing, that is exactly what I mean....some didn't even have clothes...
I felt overwhelmed about what I saw and how lucky I had been and I really could not wrap my head around what some have and some simply didn't. I didn't know if there was a light anywhere to bring some kind of hope and to help someone when there seemed to be poverty everywhere around me.
I had heard about the Ishahayi Beach School Foundation, a charity established by expats in Lagos to support Nigerian Children's education. Since I was a teacher (and I didn't know where else to start), I thought helping with Nigerian children's education was as good a place as any. When I first started to go out to the beach school and visit other fishing villages only accessible by boat, I was shocked at the fact that the children had no shoes, and that they had to add bleach to their well water or that some didn't have the 20 naira (about 15 cents U.S.) to buy food from the local village woman who prepared lunch each day. But, after a few months of visiting the schools and getting to know Lady Salami, a missionary who founded one of the schools the Foundation helps, I saw how much we as the foundation were learning about the Nigerian culture as much as they were so thankful for new material for uniforms and bleach to clean their water and books donated to make a small library for the students. I loved being a part of that foundation for the three years I was in Lagos.
The Ishahayi Beach School Foundation is not a huge charity and will probably never receive any global recognition for its efforts, but what they have done and will continue to do is provide hope in a place where hopelessness is a daily fact of many lives I saw there each day. Just as Lady Salami could not run her school alone, the beach foundation cannot run by itself either. Like the children at the school, it takes many people to help them succeed...some may even call it a village.:) I learned a valuable lesson during my time there...everyone needs help...it is impossible to do great things on your own. But, together, many people can come together and provide some hope in the lives of some very deserving children and that is why I had to write about the Ishahayi Beach School Foundation. I am happy to say that I was a member of that fabulous board and I am so proud of everything they are accomplishing for Nigerian children's education now. It truly is the little things that count in one's life and this foundation definitely provides the glimmer of hope that the children whom they touch desperately need....just to know they are not alone, and that there is a small village supporting them:)