N100,000 Raised (Deadline Midnight Dec 25th)
So Vocal Slender called me up last week about a December 27th event he was organizing with Olorunfunmi Adebajo tagged “A Christmas in Ajegunle.” It was part of his Ghetto Love Project where he gives back to his community.
I was no stranger to these type of events.
Basically the program needed supplies … the usual and not so usual suspects like rice, beans, toothpaste and tooth brushes. All I had to do was donate something and then check my Christmas generosity to do list.
But this time I did not want to do the same thing only to repeat it again next year, I was basically tired of killing mosquitoes without throwing away the stagnant water. So I asked to see the community and Vocal Slender obliged. This is my experience in pictures …
This was the first significant thing we saw, it was some couches dropped on the side of the street and in the background Oil Tank Farms. Capital Oil some years back decided to place an Tank Farm in the middle of Ajegunle to store petrol! The problem with having such a large amount of fuel stored in a residential area was that if a fire happened, the residents will be in grave danger.
Fortunately the community fought back, protested against the location of the tank farm and eventually it was banned. Now it sits abandoned a reminder of what people can do when they come together. Sadly, this was to be the first and last of the positives I observed on my walk.
We hooked a left and came across one of many self-created garbage incinerators littered across Ajegunle.
In the background was a Mechanic Shop working on cars, seemingly not bothered by the garbage at their side. It was a just a normal sight … I would find out why later…
Jesus walked on water, we walked on Garbage.
This is Vocal Slender and his Friend Genesis walking ahead of me. Now I understood, why the Mechanics were oblivious to the garbage, it was part of the Ajegunle landscape. A normality, something that was just there because it was meant to be there.
Like snow in Iceland, it was Garbage in this land.
In the garbage I often stumbled upon interesting stuff. Like this Chloe bag hidden in the garbage.
I could say something philosophical like “even in the garbage there was treasure and this shows hope” or some bullshit like that, but this was garbage! Shitty decomposing garbage.
Sergio Ramos …
I am not a Real Madrid fan, but seeing this poster of Sergio Ramos on the side of a building amidst the rubbish was striking. And I took this picture because of that.
I thought it was something of beauty. And that’s when I was told that this was not an aesthetic display but a bathroom strategically located next to the
drainage system gutters … people shit, piss, bathe into the gutters. I would later find out that this Sergio Ramos bathroom was one of the better ones.
There was a Church on almost every corner, catholic churches, evangelical churches and church church.
I could tell that Vocal Slender was not a fan of the churches. He felt that they preyed on the poverty in the community and were not actively trying to fix the community … and then we saw the posters.
2015 was an election year and this community like many in Lagos was inundated with election posters in March/April, but now only a few faded posters remained. The posters like the politicians were simply no longer around … they had disappeared only to return in the next election cycle.
Crossing over the canal I am hit by the garbage, I tell Genesis I want to take a picture. But Genesis tells me I am shooting the wrong thing as he points to the distance …
In the distance …
I capture a River of Garbage. This is Ajegunle, it’s like a norm the garbage is a part of the community. It’s just everywhere, people are so used to it.
SEGUE: I ask this, how do we solve this garbage problem in this community in particular? I know it’s not going to be easy … yada yada. But I would like to think of a way or couple of ways we can solve this canal problem … with or without Government. If you have ideas do let me know in the comment section below.
We came across this sign for a contract awarded to Bam Darley Nigeria Limited to dredge the Apena-Alaka channel. I did some research (http://www.stb.lagosstate.gov.ng/STB.htm) and found out that the contract was awarded in 2008 for N13,467,750. The sign was placed there likely because it was something to be proud of at that time …
but now the canal is filled with the usual garbage and if you look close you will find a decaying pig in it. I found this picture ironic … ironic because it shows what happens when we solve only one part of a problem without considering the other.
On one part the Government had done a great job by dredging the canal, but they still had not dealt with the underlying issue, the garbage. Garbage that could eventually block the canal.
Maybe instead of just offering dredging contracts the Government should also offer a contract for a fence to keep garbage from falling into the canal or a monthly clean up contract. Which brings me back to the crux of this article, the Christmas in Ajegunle program …
CONCLUSION: Olorunfunmi Adebajo and Vocal Slender are taking Christmas to the streets of Ajegunle, they are collecting food stuffs and other essentials for families … and they need your help.
We know that rice and beans will not solve all the issues they have in Ajegunle, but it would make life better for a few weeks. The goal is to provide food for over 60 families and more. Below is summary of what they have collected so far …
• 4 bags of rice: N12,000/per bag
• 1 bag of beans: N23,000/per bag
• 100 slippers for childrens bought at N30,000 total
• 100 Tooth-brushes at a cost of N5,000 total
• 100 Toothpaste (Donated)
• 100 Laundry soap N5000
• 100 Bathing soap N5000
I told Funmi last night that we can definitely raise much more. If for example someone buys just one bag of rice, it will make a huge difference.
So if you are interested in making the December 27th even more awesome, please please send donations before Midnight December 25th to my Nigerian account “Okechukwu Ofili Diamond Bank 0064206894” or “paypal.com with firstname.lastname@example.org” in the space called reference enter #AjegunleXmas so I know what the money is for.
We need to get the money to Olorunfunmi Adebajo by the 26th of December so we can make some last minute purchases. Let’s bring Christmas to Ajegunle!
GOAL: Let’s raise N250,000 extra at a minimum. Below is one of the Families that we would be helping out …
MAMA AMAKA’S STORY
#AjegunleXmas I met this amazing family, who lost all their belongings about a year ago in a fire and had to start life literary from scratch.The Family ended up living in this shop (they just rented the space then) for about a year before they found a 1 bedroom apartment, where they currently reside.
I asked Mama Amaka nervously how much she makes in a month from her shop to support her family, and she replied N20,000. I couldn’t understand how she could support a family with N20,000 and I kept asking and asking, but she said she just does it. N20,000 a month! I still don’t understand how.
Their shop is mostly empty, most of the money she gets is from buying things for other people and delivering it to them at their residences. That’s her hustle.
Her husband is a plumber but lost his company job about 5 years ago.
Being an individual plumber in Ajegunle is like being a Fisherman in the Sahara desert. Nobody needs your services, there is literally no pipe borne water, no real toilets, so really nothing for a plumber to do here. But I do think he could get work if he is able to market himself outside Ajegunle. That’s whats holding him back … not just money but training in marketing.
But the thing that struck me the most about Mama Amaka’s family is their genuine happiness … like they are just internally happy and it’s beautiful when you see such happiness in a place that is designed to suck happiness out of people. #AjegunleXmas