*Forgive me in advance guys, this post is going to be a little ‘deep’.*
My week has been quite uneventful, literally. Internship has proved to be quite a breeze. Really. I mean I just sit by the window in the office and enjoy the breeze, because there’s nothing else to do. I do nothing at all in the office… oh wait, there’s Cooking Fever, Candy Crush, novels, Instagram… well, I can’t say I do nothing now that I think about it. Who can even blame the lawyers? Before they’ll coman gimme case to work on and something wee happen and somehow somehow, someone will hear ‘contempt of court’ and next thing, prison for 5 days. Biko, let’s just continue like this. (Dont mind me. I’ve been paranoid since I learnt about the offence ‘contempt of court’)
This past weekend, the youth of my church went for an outreach. Every year for 15 years now, my church has organised an outreach program where church members, youth to be precise, go to villages and less-privileged communities to spread the gospel and also give them gifts including food, clothes, stationery and other things. This year, for the first time in my entire life, I was allowed to go for the outreach. Can someone say adult? Lool! You guys don’t even want to hear the story behind this permission that I was given! My mother made it clear that to her, I will always be a child.
So, I went for the outreach feeling all happy and excited. Lol. When we got to our habitation for the weekend, first thing I noticed was that there were no beds, we were going to sleep on the floor of some classrooms. Hmm. ‘Its for the Lord’, I said. ‘I can do this!’
After the back-breaking work of moving the desks to the back of the room and sweeping out all the dirt and sand (goodness! so much sand!) we finally laid our mats and settled down. Now I’m going to skip all the boring details and move straight into the crux of the matter. Among the things we took to these people was medical care. Some of our doctors came along with us and there were many, many drugs to be distributed. (I was on the medical team so, biko, if you want to talk to me from now on, call me Doctor. I’m not even playing.) After going across a river in a rickety boat (that made me feel like swimming across the river with snakes and fish was a safer option) and walking to infinity and beyond, we finally got to one of the villages we were ministering to (there were 2). Please, the next time someone tells you to thank God, please do it wholeheartedly. I am still depressed over this journey.
First of all, nearly all the women had high blood pressure. A 46 year old woman had a blood pressure up to 220! It was seriously alarming. Girls, some not even up to my age, were coming with their children, children up to 6 years old! Haba! And when I say these people are poor, I mean they are almost dirt poor! I saw these people scrambling, pushing and hurting others to get clothes that people, including me, had cast away. It hurt guys. A particular dress that I had never worn because I felt it was ugly and shapeless, I saw a girl pick up and laugh with joy. My God! I was shocked and upset. Upset that I had been so selfish and unappreciative.
What did me in was the children. Their children are malnourished. How won’t they even be, when a family has up to 5 little children with hardly a year between them! I’m talking about a family that can’t even feed properly without the children. And then, at 15 a girl child goes and gets pregnant and the cycle continues. There was even a woman that abandoned her 3 little ones for their grandmother! These children were horrifyingly skinny and tiny! One of them could not stand at all, the poor thing was so weak and his skin was in terrible condition. One of the doctors was even moved to tears. She had to feed him before he could attempt to stand. Apparently, the women in the community took turns taking ‘care’ of these 3 children. I can only imagine the care they were being given, with the way they looked.
The children in this community are skinny and the adults look like bloated fishes! In the 3 days I spent there, I did not see a child with a little extra meat on him. One mother came with a terribly sick child and when asked what she fed him, she said biscuits! That’s all the 4 year old boy ate, no proteins, no vitamins or minerals, nothing, and the woman was so fat she broke our chair!
If I continue ranting about the children, I probably won’t end this post. I can only tell you that after the distribution of gifts, I went to a corner and wept. I cried like a baby. I was sobbing and hyperventilating at the same time because it was just more than I expected. People were rushing for things we deem inconsequential: notebooks, pencils, toothbrushes and cabin biscuits- things we just buy randomly without flinching, it seemed like such a lot to them. One woman even slapped her child for not getting all the items.
I have cried several times since leaving that community but I can truly say that I am grateful for the experience. I think we all need experiences like this, that teach us to be thankful always.
The next time you complain, I want you to remember this: It could be worse, believe me. After this outreach, I know that I won’t think the same way anymore. There’s so many things around us to be thankful for that complaining and bitterness just isn’t an option. Look around you and find sources of joy. And please, whenever you can, Give to people that need.
Yours deeply, Tomiwa Adebanjo
For the Blog
Published by the people who published “I DON’T LIKE THAT…”