Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The 232nd good thing about Lagos: Giving a life-line to street boys

I had been hoping for a long time to be able to visit Child Life-Line, a charity that rescues boys from the streets and provides them a home and education so they can get a better start in life. We had been warned that the road leading to the charity can be impassable at times, so we were glad the rain held off till we were on the paved road home. There were still plenty of really muddy places, and other places where the road was like riding a roller coaster and the driver had to weave from one side to the other to avoid the deep puddles. I was glad we were in Ayoka's car that is higher off the ground and has 4-wheel drive!

I had to have the driver slow down so I could take a picture of this sign surrounded by garbage. It says: "Notice: Dumping of refuse here is prohibited. Offender will be prosecuted. Fine 10,000N. I wonder if they've collected any fines recently.

After a bit of searching and several phone calls and questioning local residents, which led to boys from the center coming out to the main street to look for us, we found the unmarked gate which led to a narrower muddy road.

And the muddy road changed to a grassy path....

until we finally came to the gate with the sign marking the charity. They said the trip would probably take around an hour. It took us three.

But we were glad to make it and see this well-kept area which provides stability to boys ages 8-18 who have been gathered from life on the street. They currently have 19 boys, but have capacity for 24. They have an outreach program which helps to find boys who need rescue and some boys hear about the center and arrive there hoping to be helped. The young adult men working at Child Life Line, who showed us around, said some boys end up on the street after running away from home, some were discarded by their families, often after a remarriage. Most of the boys were at school during our visit, but there were some boys at home. They had recently arrived at the center and it was too late in the school year to get them registered. They were quiet and hesitant to talk to us, but they finally opened up and answered our questions. After their leader mentioned that one of the boys was a good artist, he showed us his sketch book and some very nice drawings.

We sat with the boys in the dining hall while we visited with them. They get their own breakfast and there is a cook who prepares 2 meals a day for the boys. The directors said that they seem to consider this cook a mother figure and the boys are anxious to help her. She has challenges preparing food -- the charity's refrigerator and freezer are both currently broken. The kitchen was pretty bare and she said some donations of pots and dishes would be very helpful.

One building serves as a tailoring workshop to allow boys to learn the skill of sewing. They would appreciate donations of fabric to practice with.

They have some space which allows for the boys to have room to run. They are responsible for doing their own washing of clothes and also have chores around the center to help them learn responsibility.

This building is the dormitory.

The rooms were clean, but very spare in furnishing. Some bunks had mosquito nets, but they didn't have enough for all the beds. Some beds had bare foam mattresses with no sheets. We hope to get donations of sheets so all the boys can have them.

This building serves as a classroom for their art teacher, an artist who, I believe they said, was once a resident of Child Life-Line. The leader showed us some pictures of the art work the students had created and there were some beautiful paintings. We're hoping to organize an exhibition and sell some of their works. The proceeds would go to each individual boy, not to the charity as a whole, so they can receive some benefit from their creations.

There is also a very comfortable administration building that has a library, study room and computer work area. They said that after school the boys spend a lot of time in here doing their homework and reading. I asked the leaders how the boys got along -- were there fights? And they both smiled and responded, "Well, they are boys." They often come to the center pretty tough after their lives on the street, and certainly there are challenges as they learn to be responsible and to get along with others. But they try to make it as much like a home as possible and the boys generally respond so the stability and structure.

We left Child Life Line feeling that those 19 boys living there were in a good place. We hope to be able to support the center and get them some things that will make it even better.


sheri said...

wow! i hadn't been on here for a day and i missed three of your posts!! i'm so glad that you shared about the work that the women/and a guy, were doing over there. after looking at some of the poverty, i can't imagine how you couldn't want to be a part of the healing. the work that you are involved in is amazing and i'm so proud of all that you gals are doing in the beautiful country of lagos!!
have a wonderful day, carolee :)

Anonymous said...

Hi there
I was linked to this post from a friend who knew about it because I mentioned interest in moving along some unused fabric in our house. Are donations of fabric and sewing notions/supplies needed?

Carolee said...

Hi Anonymous!

Yes, they could use any donations of fabric and sewing supplies that you'd like to give. You can either write another comment here with your contact information - which I won't publish -- and I will contact you. Or you can email awclagos (at) gmail dot com and they will pass it on to me. Thanks!