I believe strongly that our service to others is the rent we pay our room here on earth; after all, we rise by lifting others. I love so much, the part of Marriane Williamson’s Poem that says, ” as we shine our light, we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same.” Shining our light could be expressed in our acts of kinds that give hope to people living in despair.
As one of the pioneers pursuing passionate the vision and mission of the Lift Africa Foundation, which is strongly committed to empowering the most vulnerable and marginalized people, we began a scholarship fun initiative – Streets To Classrooms – which has seen 2875 out-of-school children; many of whom were street hawkers, taken off the streets and granted access to quality education fully funded from primary to tertiary level.
We all are a story in the making; the great benefit of working selflessly for the good of humanity is that we like movie actors play our roles in the lives of people as we help shape a story that history will be proud of. The experience is not only enriching but a great exercise for the heart and a sense of purpose for living. I’ll like to share the story of Harira, a 17years young bright lady – a native of Dutse, Jigawa State, one of the beneficiaries of our Streets To Classrooms program, her story is one of the touching pieces of events we were blessed to encounter amongst the girls we saddled from the streets, wasting away hawking and just trying to make ends meet. Despite her ravaging situations living in poverty and having to drop out of school; Harira had dreams of someday becoming a Medical Doctor. Whilst parading the streets selling Nunu and Masara, just to help out her family in food on the table; she lived in despair thinking her aspirations of becoming a health practitioner was going to slip away, perhaps end up as many like her, married off to some interested suitors.
It was like the light at the end of the tunnel when Lift Africa found her and put her through secondary school. And to good use did she make out the opportunity presented to her way through the scholarship funds because last year Harira sat for her West African Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE) and as well NECO passing with 6 and 5 distinctions respectively as she graduated in flying colours from secondary school, more so even scoring 224 in JAMB exam.
Now, her dreams are very much in view; walking on roses as she just passes one big hurdle to fulfilling what she always wanted to become in life; saving lives and helping humanity. But her father seemed to be another obstacle as he aimed to extinguish the light standing in her way of furthering her education. Harira Father instructed she would not to continue her education to the University, insisting she gets married and can only continue if her then-husband deems fit to be or not be. Devastating isn’t it? Her heartbroken mother reached out, for she as well knew the horror that looms as she – Harira’s mum was married off at age 14, and now a mother of 9 at age 38. The painful reality she’s now learned to live with is something she doesn’t want her daughter to suffer the same fate. She desperately desired our intervention, as I had to travel down to Dutse to speak with her father. I, however, spoke with the community ward leader who happened to be a friend of Harira’s dad perhaps he could make the convincing much easier which seemed to work as he, the ward leader spoke with to him, assuring him there no need to be apprehensive, allaying all of his worries. But there was more as Harira’s dad eventually let the cat out of the bag, the final say on the matter was his mum’s – Harira’s grandmother, what a shocker.
So we tagged along as we were led to go speak with her grandmother; persistent as we normally are, we engage Harira’s grandmother in quite a dramatic conversation to let her see reason’s why her beloved grandchild, a promising star, who could not only bring joy and glory to the family but even the country. I mean it was a conversation that went for 6 hours but we got the job done. It’s good to come to a conclusion where a girl like Harira can now go on to pursue and live her dreams not having to worry about traditions, lack of financial provision and stereotypes that could prevent them from living their purpose.
Situations like this teach us to always hope and never give up on change. We use circumstances like this as a learning guide to seeking diverse approaches to addressing socio-economic challenges pertinent to people suffering from deprivation in rural communities. It is one win in the bag but the assignment continues; there many Hariras out there who need to be rescued and given a chance to live and express themselves in a world where equality is embarrassed.