Friday, 22 July 2011

Where are all the children?

Today was a good day, in this case because I chose to speak honestly, this is what happened.
As I was walking to meet one of my colleagues for a drink, I looked at the children I passed on the way;  busy washing clothes, fetching water, or trading, and realised I really miss seeing children being children, to me that means being safe, protected, having fun, not being self-conscious and enjoying their innocence while it lasts.
When I met my colleague, for a drink or two, I mentioned that now I have been there nearly six months, I have to report on my progress and whether I have built capacity of individuals or the organisation.  Now I know I have done lots of small small things, but I didn’t expect anyone to notice them, but he responded that I had built his capacity.
Then I went home, but popped out to my “corner shop” and perhaps emboldened by two beers, told the mama, despite the fact that two of her children aged around 7 and 12 were there, that Nigeria was making me sad because I didn’t see children having fun!  She said it was true, but they do have fun at Christmas, Easter and Eid.  The younger one then told me that she had had fun yesterday at her end of term party.  Somehow this “risky” conversation turned into a much deeper one, about what all their names were and what they meant, and did I know Sarah?  Sarah was here two years ago, but I knew her when I was in Abuja, so I said yes, I was in email contact and tomorrow I would come with a camera and “snap” them and send it to Sarah.
Then when I got home, thanks to the internet, I managed to chat with my good friend Irma, I’m not sure when we last spoke but it’s certainly not since I left the UK early in 2010, I last saw her about a year previously.  Irma is a very great long term friend, but there is an extra connection, her husband Okey is Nigerian, and therefore their children part-Nigerian, but based in the Netherlands!  For me chatting to a friend at the end of the day, particularly a long term friend, with an extra special interest in Nigeria was as the British would call “the icing on the cake!”

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