Chronicles of a Social Worker – A Desperate Lagosian

Horns blaring, traffic officials working tirelessly as the rain drizzles.  The ever present traffic is the icing on the cake of events as I try navigate my way to work on a Monday morning.  Sometimes you only wonder what could be causing the traffic.

Could it be an accident or another episode of a driver bumping into another vehicle while both drivers argue over who’s at fault, without a care about other motorists behind them?  Funny as it may sound, you’d sometimes get to the supposed cause of traffic only to discover there wasn’t even any cause for alarm.  My fellow Lagosians can relate with me on this.

Speaking of Lagos.  It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and that’s where Fair Life Africa Foundation is located.  Almost everyone wants to live in Lagos these days, because of its huge economic potential.  The current population will best be left estimated, and the pressure on the available infrastructure can only be imagined as more and more people migrate to the already crowded city daily.

Everyone seems to be in a hurry in a bid to make ends meet as there’s little thought for the poor and hungry. As a social worker, it’s such a beautiful thing when career and passion come together. I look forward to another eventful week knowing there will always be another opportunity to touch a life.  

Approaching the entrance of our office to prepare my report for the previous week, needed for our usual Monday meetings, I noticed a woman sitting by the entrance.

Woman:  Aunty, good morning o.

Me: Good morning madam. How may I help you?

Woman: Aunty abeg no vex o…I be your neighbour, my house no far from here

Me: Okay…

Woman: (Starts crying) Na somebody direct me come here. Them say you fit help me and my children…I don dey wait here since 6:30am and I leave my children with my neighbour make she help me look after them.

Me: Sorry madam. Pull yourself together…Make we go inside go talk.

We go inside for a chat

Woman: My Sister na where I wan start from…I don marry and I get four children but…(shaking her head without saying a word)

Me: Madam you need to tell me everything I suppose know so I go know how and whether we go fit help you. 

Woman: (With a face void of emotions) Aunty, na six months ago I bury my husband after he get road accident.

Me: Oh sorry

Woman: Thank you. The thing be say life no easy at all. How I wan do? Only me dey take care of my four children as things don be

Me: So wetin you dey do now to take care of yourself and your children?

Woman: Hmmm…my sister if una get any work wey una fit give me I go take. Na two days ago fire burn the small place wey I dey mange to sell market. My Landlord don pack our things put for outside three weeks ago and na squat we dey squat with a neighbour. My children no go fit go school because of money for school fee. How una fit take help me?

Me: Wetin be d ages of your children?

Woman: The first dey 10 years, the others na 7 and 5 while my last born na 3 years.

Me: Ok…madam make I collect your phone number so I go call you to get direction to where you dey stay. I need to see your children.

Woman: Phone?…I no get phone again o. I don sell am. My children need to eat. Just give me time make I come here even if na 5am you go see me with my children.

Me:…I go follow you go your house now make I see your children. Wetin Fair Life Africa dey do be say, we dey give scholarship to children wey dey intelligent but their parents dey poor. I go come assess your first born then I go like to introduce you to another NGO wey go fit help you sharp sharp for this your situation then we go continue to follow up on you.

Woman:…Okay. Thank you. God bless you.

Me: We thank God o madam. We thank God say God they use us through the people wey dey sponsor us to continue to do this work.

Woman: So na people dey sponsor una and no be government?

Me: Yes o, na people. Government go do wetin dem fit do and we dey happy to put smiles on people’s faces through our work….Oya make we dey go.   

Sometimes you don’t have to go so far to get cases for review.  Yes, life can be difficult but life can also be better.  It’s always limited resources against unlimited human wants, but the little we do can goes a long way in changing someone’s life for good.  Let’s continue to be our brother’s keeper.

Written by Emeke Ndego

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