Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The 172nd good thing about Lagos: Visiting charities with a surprise cultural performance with cute children!

Last week I helped organize a field trip for some American Women's Club members to visit two of the charities that we sponsor. We organized this trip to acquaint more women in the club with the people doing such great work at these charities, which our funds help to support. We also want them to be aware of the needs there so they are more willing to help out with donations and service. ExxonMobil provided us bus transportion and the women attending donated some goods to bring to the charities at our visit.

Our first stop was Beth Torrey Home for the Handicapped. This home cares for 17 severely mentally and physically handicapped young adults who would otherwise have no where else to go. Their building is very dark inside, but the residents are always dressed in their uniforms and seem well cared-for by the two matrons who have served them for many years.

The residents welcomed us with a song.

Their rooms were spare, but tidy.

The courtyard area is used for cooking, feeding the residents, bathing them and doing the laundry. There isn't much effort to do any physical therapy for the residents. We asked the matrons about what we could bring to help them. We suggested that they might enjoy some balls, and she agreed that some soft balls that they could squeeze or roll might be useful. Their backup generator is broken and they gave us an estimate for the repairs needed. We will help them with that, and also hopefully find some oil cloth that they use under the sheets to protect the mattresses from night-time accidents. The small squares of oil cloth that they were using were in tatters.

It wasn't far in-between the two charities we were visiting that day, but we were passing through a busy market area, so it was slow going on the road.

When we reached Cardoso Catholic Community, we were greeted by Sister Bernadette, a delightful woman who I very much enjoyed meeting when I had previously visited the charity complex.

We thought we were just going to be having a tour of the center, but she rushed us over to the primary school, saying that it was a special cultural day for the students, and they were about to begin their program. We grabbed some of the children's toys that we had brought as gifts and hurried across the sandy courtyard to the school grounds.

We were greeted by a crowd of young children, all dressed up like adults in their finest party clothes.

They greeted us with a song and then we presented them with some stuffed animal gifts.

The first dance they performed for us was definitely not a native Nigerian kind of dance, but it was very cute, nonethelesss.

Then they started kind of a fashion parade, calling groups of children based on their tribe, to have pride in their own style and traditions. The children would come stand in front of the visitor and judge's tent and either stand there a little dazed and confused, others would really jive with the music.

Most of the children glanced at the white-skinned visitors kind of nervously, but this one little boy came over and just stood soberly beside one member of our group. We weren't sure if some teacher nudged him our way, or he just felt like he wanted to come over for a photo-op. If that was the case, he got what he wanted.

Some of the students from the secondary school enjoyed the performance while peering over the wall.

We had to leave the children's performance to take a quick tour of the rest of the community complex. The clinic was a busy place, with many mothers and babies waiting to receive medication at the pharmacy window.

Others were filling the benches of the waiting area.

We looked into some classrooms in the secondary school. The new science lab was looking good, but still without supplies like test tubes and beakers. We're hoping to get some donations of equipment so they can make use of their new facility. They were typing on some old manual typewriters and the computers in their computer lab were so outdated they weren't equipped with CD drives.

This trip I was able to tour the women's vocational training center, which is a main focus of the community.

We toured the classrooms where they practice their cooking lessons. They do have a kitchen, but it's not big enough to handle all the students, so they also mix some recipes on tables in regular classrooms.

The recipes and instructions are written on chalkboards.

They also have a room filled with treadle sewing machines to teach students sewing and tailoring. These are the kind of machines used most often in the country, because of unreliable electrical power.

One seamstress was in the process of sewing a baby cot.

Another classroom was filled with students busily crocheting.

And another classroom was filled with students learning diet and nutrition, taking notes from the chalkboard.

We passed through the back of the school, where they teach crafts such as fabric dying and design, and our last stop was at the hair salon where students learn hair styling skills.

Cardoso is doing a great work to help educate Nigerians of all ages and empower them to better their lives.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I hope you don't mind that I have added this blog to my list so I can check back now and again to experience your wonderful adventure. And I love the whole idea of counting all the is good. Take Care and Thanks for sharing!!!