I still remember Brother Cletus painting a vivid description and demonstrating how Moses stretched his rod to part the red sea during our catechism class on Sunday back in Church. I had imagined me and my sisters taking selfies, in awe of the breathtaking sight, as we walk through on dry ground while the Egyptians pursue in vain.
Back to reality, I’m 70 kilometres away from the Office. My mission is another child assessment, this time, a referral by a friend of the organisation. After the travel by road, it appears I have to cross this pool of water brought about by the heavy downpour.
Like Biblical Moses, I wish I had a rod to separate the waters. Times such as these provide opportunities of seeing the effect of climate change and a different shade of poverty as people struggle in scooping water from their places of abode which hasn’t been spared by the rains. School is out for the time being for most children in the community, and a place of rest is even needed for the night.
I wasn’t a good student of biology during my secondary school days, but I’m very sure spirogyra, amoeba and other micro-organisms would be having a party inside this brown coloured water, where all manner of rubbish, some of which are better not imagined, stay afloat. Going back at this junction is not an option but crossing this “river” remains an herculean task.
Contemplating on moving forward, I get a tap on the shoulder by a local from the community.
Local: (With a smile) Aunty, good afternoon o… I don dey watch you since. E be like say you be Ajebo. Na where you dey go?
Me: I dey go Shibiri street.
Local: I know there well well. The water no reach that side. Oya, make I carry you go there.
Me: Where you park your motor?
Local: Motor ke? Motor no fit pass this road nah. You go climb my back and pay chikini money. Na my office you dey so. Anytime wey rain fall like this, work don come be that.
Me: So na how much we dey talk?
Local: Na just N1,000 to and fro. Na so we dey carry am. Whether “Orobo” or “Lepa”.
Me: Oga, abeg I no go fit pay that price. Na N.G.O I dey work for. We no get money to spend like that.
Local: N.G.O? Na wetin be that? Wetin una dey do?
Me: Fair Life Africa Foundation na Non Governmental Organisation. We dey give scholarship to children who dey intelligent but from poor background. Na one small pikin I dey go assess so.
Local: Oh…I see. That means God don answer my prayer be that nah. No worry I go remove money for the amount. You fit pay N500? But you go follow me interview two of my children too. One dey Primary six, and the other dey JSS3. Them no go school today. Water enter my house.
Me: Oga…hope I no go fall so?
Local: …No worry insurance cover you. I don tey for this business.
The question isn’t how far we would go in our quest for the brightest minds. Neither distance nor environmental issues will ever be an obstacle. Every child is important no matter the location. Every little support means a lot to us as we continue to empower people for a fairer life.
Written by Emeke Ndego