As the popular saying goes:”cleanliness is nearest to Godliness”
That statement above depicts so many things. But to us, it means that cleanliness makes us righteous and holy. It is very important that we take proper care of our health and well being and one of the ways to do that is by having a clean environment to live in. This is an article on our sojourn to the place where we made impact, the place where we made our voices heard, the place where we served humanity.
Sometimes last year in the city of Lagos, a group of 30 young active citizens decided to reach out to the community where they stay or in one way or the other have something to do with. This they did by organizing themselves and they made arrangement to meet on a Saturday morning to collectively clean up the entire vicinity of MAKOKO slum.
Makoko slum is an area in the city of Lagos filled up with the stereotyped badagry indigenes (they aren’t regarded as Nigerians). They were known to be uneducated and unprivileged set of people who struggle to make ends meet through their fishing business.
The clean up exercise started with the necessary and most important thing which was paying a compulsory visit to the leader of makoko community. We headed directly to his house, which seem to be the only house with the best structure amongst other houses in that vicinity. After taking due authorization, we grouped ourselves into 6 teams consisting of at least five members and we went to different areas in the community to clean up the environment. Each team had a leader who spearheaded the activities and took proper coordination of whatsoever is being done. I was in a group of three guys and two females and we were able to work together as a team to ensure that the area where we were allocated to was properly cleaned.
We made use of different cleaning equipment like the rake, hand gloves, shovel, broom, parker, water, sack, brush and cutlass. We had brief discussions amongst ourselves about the community and why the community is in the condition in which they presently find themselves. One of the reasons for their underdevelopment was illiteracy; we realized that about 90 percent of the people living in that community were illiterates. They had no access to basic infrastructure, no access to education and other important amenities that the government should provide.
Whilst working, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the children living in that community and our discussion goes thus:
Me: How are you?
Child:* No response*
When I realized that the child being questioned isn’t answering then i had to speak in Yoruba language which sounded more like their own dialect,
Me: bawo ni (How are you?)
Child: mowa (I am fine)
Me: Kini oruko re?( what is your name?)
Child: oruko mi ni giresi( my name is grace)
Me: Mummy re nko?( where is your mum?)
Child: woon wa ni oja (she is in the market) With that I could tell that the child could only communicate in yoruba language. Then, I continued the question,
Me: Ki lon she nile? Kilode to losi school?( what are you doing at home? Why didn’t you go to school?)
Child: mio kinlo sukulu( I don’t go to school)
Me: kilode? ( why)
Child: Kosi( nothing) Me: oda, ki lofe di lojo iwaju?( what would you like to become in the future?)
Child: mofe mata eja( I want to be selling fish)
Then, it downed on me that the child doesn’t really have a clear view of the future different from what the parent do, which is fishing and selling of smoked fish. I was challenged and I allowed the child go do whatever he had to do at that time. I continued with my cleaning exercise so as to be able to meet up with the closing time. We then went back to the chief (leader) of the community and informed him of how the cleaning and sanitation exercise went. We concluded the event with a sensitization program telling the entire community the importance of cleaning the environment as well as the disadvantages of not cleaning the environment. We spoke specifically to the parent about the importance of sending their children to school and how it can positively affect the condition of how they live. After all the talking, we took some pictures with the people and we made up our minds to come back to monitor their condition. We made our way back to the bus which brought us after we had done proper rinsing of our body. On our way back home, we talked about our ordeal and planned on strategies that can be used to sustain what we have done.
We are a group of young and conscious active citizens from two federal tertiary institutions in Lagos, Nigeria (Yaba College of Technology and University of Lagos). We are volunteers, we love to support a good cause, we love to make positive impact in our immediate environment and we also love to make our environment a better place than we met it.
Article originally written by: Akinjise Daniel Olatunji
Visionary, TAD Initiative