There was not a day that I never thought of running away. I could run in search of respite, to an abode bursting with peace,free of anxiety and most especially free of every face I know.
Some talk of monsters creeping around,some others of nightmares haunting through sleep but none can be compared to you. Day in and out, you never fail to slide into my sleep, a plot of gruesome dreams, and at sundown you charge up with your horns at me, savouring my flight into zilch, where today is nothing but a fragment of yesterday’s illusions.
I may have posted this late due to some reasons but the main thing is that I can confidently call myself a certified citizen journalist as YALA citizen journalism program came at an opportune time. Throughout the course of this insightful program, I gained a lot, met new people from diverse backgrounds,became more open-minded than I have ever been, learned and acquired peace building skills plus I have found out ways through which I can contribute to causes I care about. Life I will say becomes a lot easier when we sought out ways to improve not just our inner man but individuals around us and most especially our community and the society at large.
Although I wasn’t shortlisted, my effort did not go in vain during the awareness campaign initiated by the commonwealth youth council for young people living with disabilities. Enclosed is my certificate of participation and equally the poem I shared for the awareness campaign. #mydisabilitydoesnotdefineme #diasbiltyisnotinability
It’s not a curse
Neither a spell
But an endowment
Peculiar in its way
One soul, one mind, one heart
Similar to yours in every way
The height of my senses fascinates you
How I find my way through
This pitch dark world
How I can tell the various timbres of your voice
It is as old as conception
You see I can’t tell the time
I wasn’t me
As I dust your scent off
The shelf of my memory
Let my fingers run
Through the contours of your face
And hold the words that proceed
From your mouth
The smile; a gift I will return
With a quench to all curiosity
Listen to the words
That choke me all day and night
Words which you must absorb
Listen; give your sympathy to the air
And let it float away from my perception
I am able
A distress call from a concerned citizen in far away Ajangbadi Lagos, brought us face to face with an abuser,a child beater,a man who in no way whatsoever is worthy to be called a father. The world is gradually loosing it, if people rather than facing the challenges of living resort to pouring their frustrations on harmless innocent children. A child being a free gift from the creator does not give anyone the right to take it for granted. In most homes, children receive the best care ,love and protection but the same cannot be said of the millions of kids who find themselves in very abusive homes.Often, these children become mentally dysfunctional or are tormented by the trauma of these events even if they make it to adulthood.
Free Africa Network for Women development is by design, an NGO geared towards women and the girl child development. Our scope of work mainly covers training and mentoring women and girls on skills and education that will give them a sound footing in life but more often, we are bombarded with distress calls and messages from concerned people, who like us can never look the other way when issues concerning distressed children are involved. When faced with situations like these ,we go all out to arrest it..
In the case of little Emeka and his two siblings, a distress call came from a good Samaritan living on the same street as Emeka. Going by his story, Emeka’s father (Uzoma Okpa), a widower, formed the habit of constantly beating his three children at any slightest provocation. According to the anonymous caller, Emeka who happens to be the first child receives the bulk of his father’s cruelties.The reports made by the caller were not immediately attended to by out team due to so many constraints at that time. Although we assured him that we would definitely attend to them but on the 31st of August, a call came in again through the same individual, this time around informing us that this same Mr Uzoma Okpa had beaten his son Emeka to death.
On the 1st of september we arrived the location very early in the morning. Locating No 1 Mmadu street,Jakande, Ajangbadi was not difficult as a guide helped us out.While in the neigbourhood, Neighbours took time to narrate how Mr Okpa fought and abused anyone who dared challenge him claiming he reserves the sole rights to correct the children when ever they erred.On that fateful day,he beat the boy to a pulp leading to unconsciousness, just because the little boy confessed to have tampered with a pot of soup prepared the previous day.As soon as Okpa saw his son slump,he took to his heels.It took the help of the community who caught up with him and mobbed him.The timely intervention of the community members and the doctor of a nearby hospital helped to stabilise the victim,an eight year old boy who at the time of our visit to the hospital was still battling for life at the intensive care unit of the hospital.It was a mixture of feelings beholding Emeka on the hospital bed,being very grateful that he made it despite his critical condition.Outside the hospital,we put a call across to the divisional police officer in charge of Ajangbadi police station, Ilemba Hausa division, whom on receiving our distress call promptly sent police officers from the Human Rights Desk of the station to come and meet us in order to get the situation report and possibly pick up Mr Okpa. The police arrived in no time and after listening to all concerned,the suspect was finally arrested after more than 10 hours seige. We have followed up little Emeka’s recovery and as at this morning 4th of september, there has been a phenomenal improvement.He managed to stand for this photo shoot.
His father has been taken into custody awaiting trial, we hope to take this children upon the discharge of Emeka to a foster home or back to a capable and responsible family member while keeping a close tab on their development.
N.B- we want to use this medium to express our heartfelt appreciation to the following individuals:
-The Anonymous caller who made spirited efforts to reach us
-The Police at Ajangbadi Ilemba Hausa station,Lagos Division,Especially the Human Right police Officers; Gladys Udegbe and her colleagues
-The residents of Mmadu street for your co-operation and support
-The chief medical director,Abanishe Hospital whose selfless efforts led to saving the life of little Emeka.
You have all restored our faith in Humanity
(free Africa Network For Women Development; is a non-governmental organisation based in Lagos, with a vision driven towards women empowerment and girl-child education)
I came across this little girl today, on my way to an event. As I observed closely, I noticed that all wasn’t well. So I walked up to her and asked why she was crying and running all over the place, at the ever busy Celle/Ijesha expressway. She began narrating, amidst sobs about how her mom made her stay with an aunty, who she claimed often maltreated her, and that having lived with this said aunty for the past two years, she wanted to go back to her mom. Lost on what to do next , i asked to be taken to see the aunty, since taking her to a nearby police station was rejected by the crowd that had gathered by now (trust Lagos onlookers)
Finally, I met with this aunty after walking some three streets from the expressway. Narrating her own part of the story, the aunty claimed the girl’s mother put her in her care, because haven remarried, her current husband forbade her from bringing her kids to live with them …..a precarious situation here. After much thought, weighing every option at our disposal, we concluded on returning the little girl back to her mother.
Meeting the girl’s mom in Bariga was a different ball game altogether, but thank goodness, after counseling ,the young girl was united with her mom .
On this platform, we strongly advise parents to birth only the number of children they can adequately cater for, and whenever issues arise in the Union, put the children above every other consideration. Throwing your kids away because of a new found love is a very terrible and inconsiderate decision. Take the pains now, and for go any pleasures that comes at the expense of that child.
culled from Free Africa Network For Women Development: An NGO that empowers women and girls through skills training and education based in Lagos,Nigeria.
My name is Wura, Wuraola if you call me fully. I am ten years old with cornrowed sandy brown hair, my eyes are dark in colour plus there’s a scar on my face that won’t heal. I am light complexioned, thin and I am on the run, I have been on my own for a week now. You may know of this as my face is on the missing persons poster slapped on walls but please tell no one you heard of me. I am revealing this you, so you know that I am the little girl down the street that suddenly disappeared without warning, and just in case you see my mother, tell her that I am very much safe. Safer here than in the hands of the gorgon who used to house me.
You see, I used to have the nicest set of teeth, my smile could light up the world ,this I learnt from everyone. I am missing a tooth now, this my auntie caused and if this tooth will grow back again I do not know. Let me clear something out so I don’t leave you wondering, my auntie is not my mother’s sister if you know what I mean as I tend to call grownups auntie or uncle. sometimes I do not know if to I am to blame mother but then again she has six of us at home and having too many mouths to feed, a friend of hers offered help by referring me to a woman who lives here in the city, Lagos and that was how I ended up here.
I think running away has been the best thing, even if I don’t have a permanent shelter. I roam the streets, a farther place from where auntie stays. Since my disappearance, I have met some kids about my age and we all share the cardboard boxes around for the night while we beg and run errands during the day for food, sweets and Okpa. Auntie wore anger like a dress and would hit me at the slightest. she used to tie me up to the table and lash me with the cane. My body is an abode of scars and ugly marks that won’t go away. Once I accidentally broke the vase, she stripped and scorched my eyes with pepper. It stung like fire, my vision grew worse and finally I was out of school. Auntie saw no use in me going to school but her children, yes she has children and not one of them skipped school.
Here’s a list of the things I do and I do every bit of them
-do every manner of cleaning
-wash tons of clothes
-I iron and put all in place
-fetch water from the community tap once we run out of water
-run tiresome errands
-finally no food if I fail to do any of them
Sometimes I go to bed hungry even when I do all the chores because eating is only done when auntie permits. I already have the washer woman’s hand from too much scrubbing. I am sore in and out, distant, searching and longing for a place to flutter to. My wings have been broken, my heart open, bleeding and without healing. Many at times I long for home, for my family as I have been driven far away, too far from warmth and the love of mother.
Still and just as my new runaway friends would say, it’s an accord, something that fills us up as we play hopscotch in the junkyard. It’s my turn now to hop and I shout with every air of freedom.
“’beatings, scars, words don’t take your identity away, not your person and not even your name”. My name is Wura, Wuraola if you call me fully. I am ten years old with cornrowed sandy brown hair, my eyes are dark in colour plus there’s a scar on my face that won’t heal. I am light complexioned, thin and I am on the run.
They took the stars
the moon,the sun
out of my sky
They took hope and
locked her up in the big black box
ticking to explode
they raised the gun at me
surrender or die
that I have done both years before their utterance
I surrendered the day
they blew out my light
Even death had a choice
and deemed me not ripe for his arrival
you’re free he says
and here I am running
from place to place
running past borders
running to find a place
called no man’s land
where I can bury
myself in the sand
and leave out my feet
so that I can point
my toes to the golden sun
of conflicting years
photo credit:(Google-Rick Loomis/ Los Angeles Times)
My name is Beau
my favourite hue
is the colour called blue
Blue is the sphere I stare into
each time I miss you
Blues is that genre
which has failed to please me
Blue is you
you who locked me up in this state of mind
Blue is that strain
it is that due
that makes us walk past each other in the street
but never look each other in the eye
to quench this flaming feud.