Tuesday, 16 June 2009

From tiny acorns mighty oaks grow

Last Tuesday the ladies (and gentleman!) of the Pink House joined their neighbour Mrs Aka’ahs at the dedication of the new building for her foundation, The Vincent Kawai Memorial Foundation who has as its mission: “Motivating and empowering the disadvantaged youth of Kaura Local Government to achieve their full potential”. Mrs Aka’ahs (Rebecca) and her husband are both indigenes of Kagoro, and love the village and its people, particularly its children.

In recent years they have been distressed by the degree of alcoholism and delinquency in the local youth. The vagrancy of small children running around unfettered and seemingly uncared for by their parents. The Foundation aims to help children and youths first see and then realise their potential, whether it be in music, business or other activity. Mrs Aka’ahs has been running a Tuesday afternoon kids club for several weeks now with up to 70 children gathering in her driveway for story-telling, singing, prayers and puff puffs, a local doughnut which Rebecca makes to perfection enriched with sugar and eggs.

With renovations at the new building completed, we attended the main launch along with about 100 children, 30-40 adults including the local church choir and local band. Speeches were given by the local Catholic Reverend Father Richard (from Kenya), the ECWA pastor from nearby Manchok and the local Kagoro Imam. Oh yes – and me, as a representative of the Pink Ladies.
The tiny acorns take their places bright and early for the start of the launch of the new building, which is no longer at 1 Water Board Road but, with road names the way they are, no need to change the signboard.

Laurie and Shinggu help organise some activities with the early-arriving kids before the main programme begins at the new site, not at No. 1 Waterboard Road, but still in Kpak.

Chairwoman and founder greets Father Richard who will perform the dedication; the two fathers consult on the upcoming programme.

Laurie gets the kids singing

Mrs Aka'ahs sits amongst her Kagoro children

With the speeches in Hausa, it’s difficult for me to relay the content. On my own part (with translation into Hausa provided by our neighbour Mr Shinggu) I started off by thanking the adults for the joy that their children brought us. Anyone regularly reading this blog will know that the children never cease (well, so far after 8 months) to happily greet us as though it was the first time they had seen a bature which can bring considerable joy to a heart heavy with a full day’s work and a trip on public transport back to Kagoro.
Father Richard makes the dedication;

I introduce a musical number before making a short speech on behalf of the ladies of the Pink House with Mr Shinggu acting as my translator.

However we know that the children enjoy us because we provide a diversion from the monotony and boredom of their day. Other Nigerian friends have told me how they never had a dull moment in their childhoods as their parents encouraged them to help round the house and farm in any spare moment. One of the problems we see is the lack of engagement by parents – even if just to give them a chore. Toddlers can be seen wandering, often half-naked, some distance from their homes with no adult supervision. Younger children will be seen carried on the backs of their slightly older sisters who seem to become the main carers. The Foundation hopes to enable both the children and their parents to recognise what the children are capable of and somehow provide some avenue through which to realise that potential.

Some parents take part enthusiastically in the proceedings (although later we were saddened to see them grabbing for donuts and drinks with greater effort and more force than the children); one of our local children Madaleine listens intently to a speech (probably not mine...)

The ECWA Women's Fellowship choir entertains the crowd, whilst Dori and I desperately try and get in shot - snap me! snap me!

Mrs Aka’ahs confesses that she is new to the NGO world and she needs all the help she can get. However she has the most important ingredients: commitment, passion and caring. She already has a team of about five young men who help her with the Foundation and the Laurie, Dori and I are happy to help when we have time off from the Foundation.
The smiles are everywhere when the songs are sung and the puff puffs distributed. Let’s hope at least some of these lively acorns grow into mighty Nigerian oaks!
One final group photo before the looming storm breaks!


Anonymous said...

Hi Cicely,
What a lovely Blog - the kids are all smiles and no doubt fue to the influence of Mrs A's donuts and the pink ladies and their singing.
That storm looked ominous. We had a massive one here last night. Thunder and bolt lightning directly over us in Greenwich...so loud and bright. The car needed a wash so i really cant complain.
Looking forward to more insightful blogs.
Love Jared xx

Jo Summers said...

Great minds and all that - I was just about to tell you about our storm in Greenwich last night too!!!

I've not been keeping up to date with the blogs so I've just caught up with them and can confirm that they are still great.

Will write you a proper email later on the boat home.

love n hugs


Sabine said...

Dear Cicely,

everytime I read your (or Laurie & Dori's) blog I want to come back to Nigeria. Not that Germany is a bad place and Nigeria is just great. No. Definitely not. But the kids, Kagoro and the joy the community gives to you baturees is just overwhelming. I wish I could quickly come and visit you ...
Take care and greetings to Mrs. Ak'has.
Sai anjuma