After the PUNCH report, a non-governmental organization visited the slums of Lagos, and provided gifts to needy mothers, baby shoes, clothes, and other things

When a truck full of toys, sacks of rice, jari, eggs and other food items including clothes, approached Bula District, a poor area near Magudo in the Ikosi Ishiri Municipal Council Development Area, the children erupted in glee and gathered around the car as they jumped.

It was a hot Thursday afternoon, two days after the New Year. A few adults sat around what looked like a sidewalk, wondering what was going on until our reporter got out of the car to address them. They were told the mission of visitors who brought gifts like Father Christmas to have a beautiful New Year afterwards Saturday punch Report their plight on December 25.

Saturday punch I reported on the situation in Boola in the Christmas edition where destitute children and parents said they had no idea what it was like to celebrate Christmas as they had on any other day.

“I don’t know what it means to wear a Christmas dress. My dad has never bought me one since I was born,” Miracle Nana, the child who lives with his four siblings, an expectant mother and an alienated father, told this reporter on his first visit.

It hasn’t changed much. He was wearing the same outfit he was wearing at the time. This time, he had no shoes. He wandered from side to side, approaching the truck that had stopped in front of an open field full of rubbish and dry mud.

Miracle is one of the many children who lived in Boola. Approximate number by Saturday punch The population was estimated at 1,500 children who either dropped out of school or combined schooling and begging to make ends meet.

Another boy, who is Miracle’s consort, told our reporter that he had to plead daily for support to his parents who had nothing to do after they were evicted from Jakande Market and could not rent a shop.

Asked why he got anything for Christmas, he said, “My dad isn’t around. I live with Mama. She didn’t buy us anything. I didn’t even ask her for anything because I know she didn’t have the money. I beg for alms on the streets when I come back from school so I can eat.”

This is the daily life of most children in society. It’s the harsh realities they have to face early on in life.

For 17-year-old student Youssef Noureddine, who was born and raised in the Bula district by his mother Jamila, life has not been easy and he does not expect the Christmas season to come.

“Honestly, I’m not expecting anything. I just turned 18, if I told you that since I was born my parents have never bought any new clothes or anything to celebrate the season, would you believe it? Even eating is a problem.”

Yusef said he started working at the age of eight in a block factory where he helped molds fetch water for a payment of between N30 and N50.

“I’ve always had to work all my life. My mother, you see, is poor. My father is late. He died more than six years ago. The house we lived in before caught fire on the road and we lost everything we worked for. My mother took us to her brother’s house Let’s stay with him and his family of four. It’s very annoying so I always have to work because I don’t want to suffer the way my mother is suffering now when I grow up.”

He told our reporter how he managed to go to school despite work, he said, “I go to school late most of the time, because now I work as a barber. Sometimes, at 10 pm, I’m still in the shop working. By the time I get home, I’m already so tired that I can’t do anything. I’ll just sleep. The next day, I’d wake up late. Even at school, I can’t concentrate because I’m either hungry or distracted. I just want school to close quickly so I can go and work.”

The union of different tribes

The Bula reflected the Nigerian situation with a group of people from different tribes. The area, fenced north from Majodo District Phase One, Pula does not appear to have any government presence except for a street sign: ‘Ikuemonisan Str. Arranged by IILCDA.

Our reporter’s findings showed that residents moved into the neighborhood and had to either build their own temporary homes after meeting with land owners or stay in an already built house for N30,000 per year.

Upon entering the community, one might see a community of mechanics and scavengers mostly from the north. Furthermore, there were people from several southern states. There were also Igbo and Yoruba living together with a common goal – how to leave the region for a much better life.

Hope in despair

The children and other adults also started to advance towards the car and soon a crowd of curious people appeared near the truck carrying the gift.

An NGO, Heritage Hearts of Care, reporting on Saturday PUNCH visited the neighborhood with some of its team and our correspondent to find out their needs and share some elements to help them celebrate the New Year since they witnessed a gloomy Christmas. Addressing the residents, the Executive Director of the initiative, Ms. Henrietta Otoabase Akpan, said, “When I read the report Saturday punch, impressed. I had to hold an emergency meeting of my team to see how best we can make the New Year memorable because you can’t celebrate Christmas properly.

“It has always been a personal passion for me to want to give back which is what drives me to want to help you. These things are what other children take for granted, but it is a real necessity here. I would like everyone here to think that this is not the end point for them; You will definitely get through this and become a better person tomorrow who will also come back to help those in need.”

The population was divided into three – children, pregnant women and others. Children out of school or those who never attended school were enrolled due to lack of funding. Forms were given to them to fill out their details to proceed and then, the truck was unlocked.

Rain is a good thing

The sky rained rice, jari, books, eggs and milk on the residents as the team made sure that all those present were present.

The crowd seemed endless. Extended hands and tense voices lined the line, which at one point became noisy.

Some old women who sat next to the truck after collecting their gifts are crying softly.

When inquired about the cause of the emotional outburst, one of the women who identified herself as Ia Bessie said, “I am not crying. They are tears of joy. I never thought I would have all these items today. It has been a long time since we received this kind of gift. My grandson. He’s there too. They gave him some books and he’s in a queue to get eggs and rice. I’m happy.”

Miracle’s mom and former seamstress, pregnant with her sixth child, Mrs. Nana, led the other expectant mothers to get some nutritional supplements and baby clothes from the truck.

Holding an umbrella and red tie, she said, “I’m really happy with what Saturday’s PUNCH report gave us. If not for this report, how would these kind of people see us and want to help us? They gave me rice, tomatoes, spice cubes, eggs and even drinks. For the first time in a long time, I would I have tea when I get home. My kids also got a lot of good stuff. I’m grateful.”

An Imo indigene woman told our reporter during his first visit that she and her Ghanaian husband moved to the slum 10 years ago when things got tough for them.

“I was born in Lagos. I studied in this place and met my husband here. We moved to the slums in 2011 when things got tough and we couldn’t afford the rent where we were staying before. Since then we have been living here. It’s been 10 Years and we’re still here. I’ve given birth to four children here and I will probably have the one in my womb here too.

“I am here but my soul is not here. If I saw someone who would help me, I would have walked out of this place a long time ago, especially because of my children. They deserve to experience life in the ‘outside world.’ This is not a place where a human being should live,” she said, sobbing.

Child rights activists interact

Swanari Gambo, a child rights expert in Rivers State, Port Harcourt, said she was grateful that someone had come for the children, noting that she was ‘deeply touched’ after reading the report.

I read the first report before Saturday punch And it pissed me off because the better part of that day – Christmas Day. I wondered how children would have to go through all this, especially in the early stages of their lives.

She also urged the government and other Nigerians of goodwill to insert the key to the vision and ensure that they help children lead a better life by empowering skills and formal education.

A special needs teacher, Otopong Omoren, advised the government to constantly show help for needy children so that they do not become a burden to society in the long run.

She said: “We have always said this anytime we have a chance that everyone – poor or rich – is a part of the Nigerian project and suffering should not be forgotten alone. I am glad these children got some help and I wish more people would show them their love so that they also feel that they are part of the community.

“It affects a child’s psyche when he sees other children their age living very differently from what they have known all their lives. We as Nigerians must continue to make sure that as many families as possible are lifted out of poverty. Paula’s next step is for the government to look for a way to meet their needs. And move people to a better home.”

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