Good afternoon passengers. This is your captain speaking. First I’d like to welcome everyone on Lovewing Flight 97B. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 33,000 feet, at an airspeed of 400 miles per hour. The time is 2:45 pm. The weather looks good and, with the tailwind on our side, we are expecting to land in Washington approximately fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. The weather in Washington is clear and sunny, with a high of 25 degrees for this afternoon. If the weather cooperates, we should get a great view of the city as we descend. The cabin crew will be coming around in about twenty minutes time to offer you a light snack and beverage, and the in-flight movie will begin shortly after that. I’ll talk to you again before we reach our destination. Until then, sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the flight.
In just a few hours I’d be in the United States of America. And guess what? I’m visiting the White House. Dreams don’t come better than this these days. You won’t be wrong to guess exactly how I feel. Yes! I’m super excited. I don’t know who wouldn’t be. I write cheerfully not minding who’s watching as every detail counts.
‘Good day, Mr. President. It’s such an honour meeting you… Yes, I’m the one you’re expecting from Nigeria. I work with Fair Life Africa Foundation, a not-for-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian organisation. We are passionate about effecting positive changes in the lives of the less privileged through practical social initiatives…’ I just hope the words come out right exactly the way I’ve practised tirelessly looking at the mirror in my bathroom. A phone rings and I see a flight attendant walking towards my direction…
Passenger: Aunty, wake up, your phone dey ring inside your bag.
Me: Oh…thank you… Hello…hello
Iya Sikira: Hello Aunty, na me, Iya Sikira. I say make I call to remind you say na White House you dey come.
Me: I know. Once I get to the bus stop as you direct me earlier I go call you
Iya Sikira: Emmm…my phone na kpalasa, e go soon quench anytime, so just ask of…
A short nap in the bus and for a minute I thought I was going to America. It’s another visit to the Mainland area of Lagos where a huge population of Lagosians live and a massive contrast in terms of development and standard of living with the Island part.
Moshood is the fifth of SEVEN children of his mother and currently the only one who’s still in school. His referral had come through from a neighbour, who is an avid follower of our activities on social media. Moshood’s parents are separated and all seven children live with their mum in a one room shared accommodation.
Like the popular Civilian Barracks I once visited, getting to the White House wasn’t difficult as those I asked for directions knew the place like the back of their hands. I finally meet Iya Sikira who sells cooked food at her shop in front of the White House.
Iya Sikira: Aunty, ekabo o jare…
Me: Thank you, ma.
Iya Sikira: Ngbo, them say una dey help people pay school fees up to university level?
Me: Yes…we dey help children get sponsors wey go help them to that level.
Iya Sikira: So people still dey like that for this our Nigeria.
Me: Yes them dey o, na both individuals and companies.
Iya Sikira: Ok… Make I give you ewa and bread as you dey wait.
Me: No, thank you ma. I dey fine, no bother… Where is Moshood?
Iya Sikira: I don ask somebody to go call am.
Just then Moshood walks in.
Moshood: Good afternoon ma
Me: Good afternoon Moshood… We learnt, from the referral form submitted to us, you’ve been sponsoring yourself through school with the proceeds you get from your handiwork as stated here… What exactly do you do?
Moshood: I repair vehicles. I’m still an apprentice and my boss knows this is what I use to finance my education.
Me: How do you combine school and work?
Moshood: (Smiles) Ah…Aunty, it’s not been easy at all o. I have been doing this for like four years now. I started learning the trade when I was in JSS2. My parents are separated. My dad said he doesn’t have money to support us through school and my siblings have dropped out. I cannot bother my mum as we need to pay house rent and also feed. I go to the workshop after school but don’t go during exam period.
Me: How old are you?
Moshood: I’m 15.
Me: Your last result submitted to us showed you finished second in a class of fifty with an average score of 77.6%.
Moshood: Yes ma.
Me: So what’s next after secondary school for you?
Moshood: I would like to further my education.
Me: What would you like to study?
Moshood:(Smiles) I would like to be a Mechanical Engineer.
Me: Nice talking with you Moshood. I’ll get back to you later in the week.
Moshood: Thank you, ma.
Permit me to say it wasn’t the breathtaking experience of meeting the President of the United States. Today was another opportunity of meeting a brilliant young lad, who is resolved to achieve his life’s dream despite his disadvantaged status. I visited the White House, Lagos division, and I look forward to a future visit.
Written by Emeke Ndego