This was not even on my bucket list for the year 2018. Charity? Lol. Me sef I need hepp. For real tho, FOLABOMI is still a budding brand and lol, giving out sixty-two (62) bags of free clothes was never the plan.
But here I was, December 11th, 2018, walking the suburbans of Lagos with Damilola and Samuel, looking for the perfect community with the picture we had in mind; unprivileged Clotheless little children!
We rigmaroled around Bariga and we walked vastly through the dunghills of Ilaje till we could literally wave at you on Thirdmainland bridge. But we were not quite sure Ilaje was what we were looking for. We decided to keep searching. Dammy suggested we go to Iwaya.
And BOOM, we found it! Aaahhhh we found it! It was on the outskirt of Iwaya – they call it Sogunro community. It had all the elements we were looking for. It was so perfect! And what made it most perfect for me was the fact that the children were not overflowing. We wouldn’t be overcrowded nor pressured. This will be so good! We’ll just walk in, share the clothes, play with the children and go home. A plan. Thank God.
We went to the palace to meet with the Baale of Sogunro. He was fatherly but pointed-out that we had to bring some gifts for the elders before the D-Day. “Anything you can afford”, he added. Lol. But, we are coming to add value to your children’s life ma ni ke, sir, why are we having to settle the elders again? Haa.. Ok o.
We got home and I made some enquiries on the gifts fit for elders, whose land we were trying to add our widows mite to. My uncle suggested symbolic items: emi ni Honey, Palm Oil and a bag of rice. Mum suggested money. My sister and brother suggested wine. I settled for bottles of wine. I think it was a perfect choice, cause they would have collected anything, regardless.
The Baale was pleased. He promised that we had nothing to fear. He put us in the care of his Personal Assistant. He even told us that we did not have to worry about too many children showing-up, as two (2) other events would be happening concurrently that self-same day. I was glad.. it will be such a civil event.
Fam, the Baale either lied or he under-estimated his people 🤣😯😧😱. Ah chill nah, I will gist you.
The 22nd of December came. Wow! My friends turned up! I told them to start arriving for 11:00am, they started coming in at 8:45am.. I’m like “guyssssss 😂🤣😲 hafa nah!”. Lowkey, I was so touched and the message of punctuality they passed across couldn’t have been louder.
We bagged the branded clothes Aanu and Martin helped out with, threw in toys in each bag, gathered the packs of sweets and chocolates and we carried the boxes of ribena Anita brought.
Tomi, Jumoke and I went to collect the packs of party jollof and chicken from the caterer. Banji, Ebenezar, Kezia and Christy arrived. Ayoolu, Olaolu, Damilola, Samuel and David joined us shortly after. We prayed, we were good to go.
The minute we touched down Sogunro, we knew we were treading on a different type of soil. I remember Anita looking around and saying “I feel like we are no longer in Lagos” 😆. We met Ayo and the Baale’s assistant. However, we did not expect to meet omo-oniles (touts) hindering us from moving an inch further. They didn’t care that we were coming to clothe and feed their children. They didn’t care that we were coming to impact their community. They didn’t care that we were coming to do them a humanitarian service.
Guys, they harrassed us, they threatened us, they extracted 3k from us, they said they will smash our camera! Even the Baale’s assistant couldn’t do anything to stop them. One thing I’ve learnt in my experiences with these omo-oniles is that stronghead never works with them. We promised them that we would settle them on our way out. They agreed. They backed-down.
We got to the venue and we were ready and pumped with the program of event Christy had drawn up:
- Merry Christmas song
- Opening Prayer
- Convener’s speech
- Christmas Charade
- Sharing of Gifts
- Fashion Parade
- Item 7
- Learn a new song
- Vote of Thanks
Hahahahaaaa! Jokes! Lol, guys, we only made it through the Opening Prayer and the “We wish you a Merry Christmas” song.
The minute we brought out one clothing package to give the little boy that led us in prayers, was the minute our schedule of programs came to an end.
These kids did all they could to lay their hands on something; food, clothes, sweet, chocolate, carrier bag, Ribena! Anything! Their parents were hustling for the packages too. Even a pregnant woman came to meet me to ask for clothes for her unborn babies. Ma gahd! The number of children grew from 60 to 100 and then we lost count. The survival-of-the-fittest happened before our very eyes!
“Uncle Tomi, me!”, “Aunty Tolu, me!!!”, “Aunty, I want”.. I don’t think there was a single one of us volunteers that was not touched or pulled. Yeh! Guys I do not have the words to accurately describe the ordeal; it was beyond overwhelming!
The fact that we witnessed seeing very little children deprived of their basic right was so heartbreaking but the fact that we had the opportunity to provide an aspect of the needs of these children was so fulfilling. It was such a bittersweet feeling.
And beyond the satisfaction that each of us got from seeing, experiencing and being of service to children on the not-so-pleasant side of life, I think each of us left Sogunro community with a thankful heart, because fam, you are greatly blessed and highly favoured. Just be thankful for all you have.
We are happy we went. We are happy we were Father-Christmas for a day to some children, we are happy we clothed and shared a meal with them. But what we are most happy about is You, who made sure the #ClotheTheClothless18 project was a success:
Ogbenaha Jennite Chioma
Abibat Busayo Quadri
Uncle Niran Aderibigbe
Mr and Mrs Orija
Mr and Mrs Hope Duntoye
Tolulope Aanuoluwapo Adeola
Mr & Mrs Odun Lijofin
Mabel Eziuno Obi
Mr & Mrs Rotimi Oba
Mrs Jumoke Quadri
Dad Charles Oni
Mr & Mrs Tosin Shobukola
Ajoboru Chioma Olaoti
Dad Bayo Odunsi
Because of YOU, over sixty (60) children were clothed and over a hundred (100) children were fed in December, 2018!