Thursday, 27 May 2010
Thursday 27th May 2010 - Children's Day
The day of the Children’s Party was here. I was picked up by Mr Dee, an earlier start than usual as I had a radio interview with the lovely Mr Femi Sowoolu of Continental Radio. I had met him on my last visit here and had kept in touch via Facebook and he kindly invited me back again to discuss WFA and our Children’s Day party. The show went well, but I worry as although Femi has a very clear dialect, the show includes a phone in and I find it difficult to grasp what people are saying sometimes. Mr Dee and I always laugh as we can never get what each of us is saying. He says I talk fast, but I think Nigerians do but although it is English they do use words we don’t often use or mix it slightly with Yoruba.
The callers ended up being children saying thank you for my efforts and wishing me happy Children’s day. One young caller however asked if I could help his Mummy to put him though school and when Femi said I was already doing a lot, the boy insisted I helped him. This is typical of the desperation some children have here. The show finished and I thanked Femi for having me again and he tried to get me slotted into the morning TV show, but the schedule was full with children so I may be asked to return on another day.
When we got back to Mafoluku preparations were well under way. The crowds were gathering even though it didn’t start till midday and it wasn’t even 11, all eager to get a place at the party. The tables of toys were laid out, there were hundreds on display, party bags were filled with gifts for many of the children, and others would get smaller toys as well as clothes. So many had collected vouchers to attend and yet there were even more turning up. The children waited patiently in the heat of the day whilst we tried to be at least a bit organised, which always seems difficult with Nigerians. We handed out sweets but as there were so many children there was not enough to go around.
Eventually after the guests of honour (3 men from the CDC, CDA and the landlord of one of Mafoluku’s streets and Dr Abimbola Da-silva) had arrived and things were as organised as possible the party commenced. Mr Dee was the master of ceremonies and introduced us all then the national anthem was sung by two young children. Then the usual thing certainly for any Nigerian gathering, speeches from the guests of honour, that can go on a while. Then tickets were drawn and children were invited up to receive extra prizes.
Angela and the children turned up to support and join in. Eniola who I met on my last visit also came along to support the event and help out, as well as Femi’s younger sister. Then food and drinks were given out to all the guests, bags with sausage rolls and donuts, plates of puff-puff, spring rolls, samosas and plantain. After eating, children were invited up for dancing competitions, to tell jokes or riddles etc and won prizes. Then they were invited in to receive goodie bags that had sweets, crisps, toys etc in. Then they were ushered upstairs to choose clothes, to make this fair it was decided two items per person so that everyone would have the chance to have some and that only a few people at a time. The women were going mad, wanting several items, getting angry when not allowed to take more. One woman that had some items taken and thrown back flung herself with her baby strapped to her back over the hospital bed to retrieve them. Chaos ensued with nearly every group refusing to accept the rules, and not appearing grateful for what they had been given. I guess this is the side of poverty that isn’t so pleasant to observe. In their defence if you struggle to provide due to extreme poverty when an opportunity comes along you make the most of it. Others including Fumni (with the baby) were so grateful and happy to be given stuff.
The disco played on loudly and some went home whilst a few danced and played. Lola Adewole was a late comer but came laden with gifts, drinks, crisps, biscuits, lollies. We filled up a few more party bags and pulled in a few more children that hadn’t been lucky enough the first time. Then we went out into the street and handed out lollies and crisps even a few of the local men that hang about had some.
At the end when most was cleared up everyone was shattered we all sat around exhausted. It had been a manic, chaotic day, I think the kids had a great time, certainly the look on most of their faces gave that impression. It was the first event WFA had done just for children and on such a scale, I’m sure lessons would have been learned for the next such event. But given the circumstances and the environment in which this is done I feel it was a great success. Well done to all the staff, local people, friends of WFA and people back in the UK that donated money, toys, clothes etc. Without the effort that everyone put into this these children would not have had the memorable day and the gifts that they did have. Thank you, E-se.