Friday, 15 July 2011

Caught in the Rain

The end of the academic year is approaching but for the majority of teachers and pupils this is not a time for relaxation and vacation I asked the head teacher if they would be 'travelling' over the vacation period.
'Only if I must!' was her reply.
Many will continue to work - if not in the home, then in a family business, especially shops.
many of the children will replace sitting in benches with selling in the markets or hawking goods around the streets, or child-minding. As I have previously remarked, children are not children for long in Nigeria.

As the day for our departure to the UK closes in, I am reminded continually how fortunate I have been and still am to have been brought up in the UK, to have received a good education, to have been in continuous well-paid employment for most of my career, to have brought up a fine, caring family, to have had some great life experiences and to be doing now what I had always wanted to do, facing challenges in an LEDC. I am also fortunate in being able to call time on it if the need should arise. For most Nigerian children and their parents there is no opt out clause and they will not have the opportunites and life chances that I have had.
Every day, in schools  and out, I meet children - great kids - smiling, hand-shaking, greeting, respectful, heading off to class, and I know what most will experience on any day - the same as the day before and the day before that ; the same as tomorrow, next term and next year. I suppose that is why I am here - to help bring a few changes about - but I can do so little.
 The rain is pouring down now on the metal roof of the house, streaming off the roof in ribbons which will soon start collecting in poools below, coalescing and flooding the compound and the street beyond. I will remain in relative comfort and dry, a roof and solid walls to protect me from the elements. I will look out with fascination at what I see, and know that should the water level continue to rise, a phone call or two will have me out of here, someone will 'beam me up', while the rain carries on and darkness closes in. But I know that out there there are many thousands who will be damp tonight and in the dark, they will be tired and hungry - and there will be nothing they can do about it. And if the rain stops now, it will simply return tomorrow.

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