Sometime back, I was advised by friends to ignore all else and focus on building myself. This beautiful advice was necessary when I had on several occasions sought their opinion regarding financial discipline.
I was barely able to foot my bills because whatever money I made went to taking care of family and strangers. I always wanted to help and consequently had my business close down because I gave away my profits.
Fast forward to service year, I met brilliant students who were on the verge of dropping out of school and for what reason? School fees. Anyone who knows me well will know I love children, I learn from them and I practically have a soft spot for them. I’m talking young ones aged 7-19. So when I found that my best students had suddenly stopped coming to school, I sacrificed my allowance in paying their fees which was not a huge sum. Parents were taking their children away from school because they could not afford to pay 3000 naira fees. I paid fees for three boys till I finished my service year.
Even then, I managed to save up some money to survive after service year but the advice from friends at the time was to involve authorities, set up a fund/campaign and take care of these kids rather than spend my personal savings. My choice at the time seemed justifiable to me but foolish to others. What satisfaction I got when my students wrote notes and voted to say they loved me, was indescribable.
Their comfort was what I had when I had my breakup and when my close friend, Rody died. I agree I should have left my personal savings and gone to higher authorities as this would have helped a lot more than three boys and would have been sustained, but my emotions got the best part of me and I impulsively helped in my little way.
Moving to Abuja was a tough one after youth service. I am still amazed at my strength and resilience. That I have spent a year in Abuja and not given up on the dream is inspiration enough for me to trudge on. Times came when I broke down and had good friends to spur me on. Many things changed except my emotion and impulse.
Within 5 months, I have sponsored 5 girls single-handedly. From Faith who was pregnant when I met her, fresh out of Secondary school and thrown out of her father’s house. She was 19 years old. Faith lost her twin babies in childbirth, got depressed and left me. She was a hard nut to crack but when Lucy came knocking and told me she was sent by Faith, I knew Faith was safe.
Lucy told me that Faith had gone to live with her boyfriend, the one who impregnated her. Neither Lucy nor Faith had phones but I could not take Lucy in to live with me. I was trying to survive in the city and could not feed another adult. She understood and in the few days she was at mine, we went in search of any job. Lucy still keeps in touch, she will write her UTME next year but I won’t have to pay for it because she now earns as a house help. There was also Rachel and Clara who now live together in a cheap house we found. They are working and learning.
These girls helped with Botafrik, they are family.
Just when I thought I had my room to myself finally, Clara came along. I know I had told myself to look the other way but Clara was different from the rest. She is calm and beautiful, she came knocking with tears in her eyes, her daddy had done his worst. Only two days to her 18th birthday, I impulsively let her in. This one has a motivation like mine. With the others, I had to teach them to dream but this one came ready-made, a dreamer.
At this point, there were thoughts on my mind; I could not possibly let her stay when I was in that phase where the business was gulping sums, I do not have a 9-5 and I do want my space but letting this girl go when I know what the world is like out there may be a mistake. I have played the game, it’s a gamble, she lives with me despite the advice from friends but here’s my plea –
Much as I’d love to be there for this young girl, I may not be able to give her the best. I have challenges, bills to foot and am now looking to see if any good person can take her in.
This girl I am positive, will make us proud. She reminds me of me. I have met her mother, she has her mother’s blessings to leave. One only has to take a first look at her. She is 18, brilliant and she only needs guidance. I am like a child caring for another child. Anyone who knows where these girls can go to should please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’ll be eternally grateful.
Note: Real names were not used