Who would have perceived Miss Biosu finally finding love half way across the world? Well I have, and it is only right that my dear Bella readers should learn of this first. Sometimes I’m mesmerised by why many tend to hide their stories of love. From the first day we met I knew it was love at first sight, though I know many may look down on us when they see us together. “I know deep down in my heart you are my knight in shining armour. Every time I see you approaching me, my heart beats with excitement. Each moment spent with you is full of thrill and adventure”. To think many people are trying to end our relationship. Okada you will forever be my Lagos Love.
Ok, enough of my funny antics. On a serious note after finding the use of the BRT buses exceptionally easy. Using the Okada as a means of transport was the last thing on my mind. Not until I had to meet a friend of mine urgently and the Okada was the quickest mode of transport. Apart from deciding to invest in a multitude of handkerchiefs using the Okada has been the best choice I have made in Lagos thus far. I can hear many of you mumbling “they are dangerous”, and I do agree with you to a certain degree. I have concluded it is not the Okada that is the issue but rather the excited drivers. Another comment I heard recently was “only razz people use the Okada”. Based on that ridiculous statement I would rather be razz and get home in 20 mins than sit in a Range Rover for two hours. So to my entire so called “razz” people Miss Biosu is officially a part of you and very proud of it also.
My second weekend in Nigeria coincided with the celebration of Nigeria’s 50th celebration. Evidently, there were many events taking place, many of which involved catering for the elite, middle and working class. With an array of celebrations taking place yours truly was 100% house ridden in need of adequate rest. Thankfully, Lagos did not disappoint, as I was quickly awoken by the celebrations outside my house! Many have spoken of their views regarding the celebrations of Nigeria 50th, however watching many of the young teenagers in jubilation and full of zeal left me somewhat perplexed. I wondered what the future held for these young boys and girls. What did Nigeria hold for these young teenagers from working class families? With no connections amongst the circles of the elite, would they still have access to the same opportunities? What of that beautiful young girl would she grow up to chase men for material things or keep her body as a temple? Or what of that young boy caught up in watching the latest music videos, would he be taught the difference between working hard or just easy money??
With the weekend over it was back to the Down Syndrome Foundation office for me. Preparations for the Down Syndrome awareness week were in full motion. It was literally all hands on deck with the aim of creating as much awareness about the foundation as possible. Needless to say I was able to visit both the NTA and LTV television stations to participate in press briefings. Before I knew it my English accent was noticed and a microphone was shoved into my hands. It was a great experience especially seeing first hand the enthusiasm from these broadcasting stations to get involved. Information via the media is the important link to make sure our local society is equipped with the right knowledge.
The highlight of my week was participating in the DSF Charity Walk. With many people flying in from other parts of the world including the UK and also from all over of Nigeria to participate, I felt like I was part of an amazing family. The walk lasted for two hours ending at National Stadium Lagos. As always it was lovely to see the young children participating. We sang and danced our way through out the walk. Finally, I was surrounded by people who had their own lives to live however they had decided to get involved with a noble cause and become “walkers and not just talkers” On Tuesday a seminar was organised at the prestigious Grange School in Ikeja as part of the DSF awareness week. The year 7 pupils had been learning what Down Syndrome genetic condition is about, so it was great to see them get involved in the discussion. Though the seminar was informative and educative, what provoked me more were the surroundings in which we were. When I entered Grange School I had mixed emotions. The school looked absolutely amazing. It was clean, organised and modern. I watched as some of the pupils participated in their PE lessons. It reminded me of the schools in London. Standing still in the middle of the lobby I paused murmuring to myself “If only 50% of the population of Nigerian children could experience this level of education” I was silently disturbed and frustrated. It wasn’t fair at all. My frustrations were not with the students at Grange School they had the right to be there. My mind reflected to those lovely children I saw parading during Nigerian 50th celebrations. Would they have an opportunity to receive such quality education? Wiping my tears away (pardon my feminine emotions) I remind myself once again I may not be able to change the lives of all of the children of Nigeria, (in all honesty it may not even be in my power) but I refuse to ignore them and be silent. Every morning travelling into the office can be a rather stressful journey. However once I arrive, relating with all the volunteers and employees makes my journey all the more worthwhile. Seeing as this adventure is not all about me, it is also about all of you wonderful readers, we are all in this together, right? Let me introduce you to a couple of the people that I work with. Hearing what drives them to volunteer their time should also spur you on to contribute to the lives of people in Nigeria.
Age: 50+ (and getting younger)
How did you get involved with the Down Syndrome Foundation? “Well, I got involved with the DSF in May 2010 after a dear friend of mine was already a volunteer with the foundation and his zeal and zest was the propelling force for me”
What do you hope that Bella Naija readers should know about children with Down Syndrome? “Down Syndrome is a genetic condition not a disease or a disorder. They are fundamentally like us but have one more chromosome than us which makes them unique. Any one of us could have been born with Down Syndrome it has nothing to do with what you eat or drink. From the elite, working class and extremely poor they all have an equal chance to giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome. Though they may be slower to process information like us, once they do process the information it sticks”
What is your hope for the students at the Down Syndrome Centre? I hope that people in the Nigerian Society will give them a chance to live like me and you. People should reach out to touch the lives of others in their neighbourhood. The first lesson people with Down Syndrome has taught me is how much they exude love and they are willing to share this love with us. They will hug you and show you affection and rightly so they know when people are pretending as they are very sensitive.
Have you participated with any other organisations within Nigeria? Yes I have, more recently I worked with the Prison Organisation. This was a rather humbling period for me. Being in the midst of these prisoners was rather disturbing. I met junior prisoners who were convicted to six year terms when their crime should have only equated to six months. I saw young men with scale diseases. It was a great opportunity to contribute to the lives of these prisoners who although were caged in inhumane environments they were normal citizens like you and me.
Would you care to share some motivational words for my Bella Naija readers? I would be honoured to. Working with the Down Syndrome foundation has been fulfilling it has taught me to be more patient and considering that fundamentally we are all humans. Here in Nigeria we are sadly a society where many are selfish as their theme is normally focused around I and me. However we need people like you Bella Naija readers to be the voice to the voiceless, for you all to lend a hand to those in your community and on your street. You are Nigeria’s future please arise and get involved with your country as small as the contribution is. It will make a difference.
So how did a young man like you find his way to this organisation? “Thank you for the compliment. My story is quite similar to many people that work for this organisation. A friend of mine introduced me to the organisation four years ago. Four years on I am still a full time employee.
What do you most enjoy about working at the centre? “My present position is now as an admin officer for the foundation. However when I started four years ago I was primarily working with the children. That is the part of my job that I enjoy the most. Watching them develop from being unable to communicate or talk effectively to speaking in fluent sentences within a matter of a couple of weeks. That alone makes this job fulfilling”
Have you found any challenges with working with the organisation? “The main challenge I have encountered is in relation to the mindset that Nigerians have. Many discriminate against these children not providing them with an equal chance to integrate into the society. Another challenge is due to the lack of equipment in the hospitals to make accurate diagnosis. Fifty percent of children with down syndrome condition have medical problems in relation to their eye sight and heart complications. If these problems are detected in the early stages of their lives, it will provide them with a higher chance of living longer”
What are your own plans for the future? “Well I hope to start University education next year. However my long term goal is to create jobs and sport facilities for people with Down syndrome and other physical or mental challenges. They are human beings like me and they should be visible in our society”
Do you have some final words for my Bella Naija readers? I and a group of friends are starting an organisation which aims to empower and facilitate change to young people from under privileged backgrounds. We are not the first to create an organisation that advocates change. If you have a desire to contribute to Nigeria, don’t do it alone. Get together with friends or people of like mind and begin to take action. There is great need for those that are less privileged in Nigeria. Let us stop ignoring them let us start taking action.
I hope the above interviews left you all asking yourselves some questions as it sure did with me. Meeting wonderful people like Uncle Bruce (I have adopted him) and Nosa has made my time in Lagos memorable. I have some other amazing people that I will be introducing you all too soon, a reminder that Miss Biosu is not alone in her adventure. There are a plethora of people living in Lagos living their own adventures every day. We are just waiting for all of you to join us. I only have two weeks left on “The Adventures of Miss Biosu” not sure if I want it to end. Until next time less talking and more walking.
Before you go here are two simple ways that you can contribute to your community
1. Pay for five children on your street to be privately tutored after school, cost: five thousand naira per month
2. Provide your professional knowledge to your local school by offering informative seminars to students FREE of charge.
To get involved with “The Adventures of Miss Biosu” contact me at www.missbiosu.blogspot.com