Dori is the pitcher whilst Laurie plays dual roles of catcher and queue organiser. Nigerians have not quite got the hang of orderly British queuing, however with Laurie and Dori's incredible memory for faces (far better than mine) they know who’s hit and who hasn’t and who’s jumped the queue. So whether it’s Damian, Benedict, Blessing, one of the two Ruths, Bernard, Henrietta, George , Ignatius, Jethro, Javed, Emmanuel, Joel, Favour, Mercy ... well you get the picture... they know whose turn it is.
Our chairman John Dada paced around nervously waiting for the keynote speaker. Confirmation of attendance is by no means a guarantee of actual attendance in Nigeria however only shortly after he was due, the Honourable Joseph Gambari arrived with his surprisingly small entourage, and Fantsuam’s friend and, we have since discovered, political influence, Jacob, our neighbour in Kagoro.
Blessing's distraught mother is pacified by a neighbour who identifies local child Mercy as the source of Blessing's illness
The unfortunate Mercy was brought in front of the grieving mother who blamed her for causing all the problems. The mother and educated man then fetched an iron and, having tied Mercy up with the cord, proceeded to ‘iron’ her skin. The child’s screaming draws the attention of other members of the community who demand that the torture be stopped and the matter referred to the appropriate authorities. Young Mercy is released and the group leave, with hope in their hearts that Mercy will be saved.
Following his speech it was time for the opening of the Children’s Parliament – a formal affair with all the correct protocols observed. This institution not only helps children to understand and ensure their own rights, but also provides a valuable insight into the workings of government, with a hope that some of these children will become the future leaders of Nigeria.
Whilst the Parliament was sitting at the fish farm, I helped my colleagues Bala and Mwrmwr attend to the crowds of children that had gathered at the back of the compound and that needed to be ferried back to the main Fantsuam site for feeding and watering. As the children milled about me I felt spookily like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Here are some of the 100s of local Bayan Loco children that Fantsuam supports every week, and that it hopes will henceforth have a better life through the Children’s Parliament.
As we attempted to manage the children, things were wrapping up at the fish farm and soon the dignitaries arrived for their tour around the main Fantsuam compound and their own lunch of jollof rice and stew. This visit, though logistically a touch challenging, was vital in cementing Fantsuam’s reputation as an effective development organisation. Having heard the kind words of the Honourable, of John Dada and others, this visit showed how ICT teaching, health care, child care and other activities are carried out, side by side, every day of the year in this small, poverty-stricken corner of Kaduna State.