Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The 262nd good thing about Lagos: Women motivated to raise money for charity

 I have met so many wonderful women here in Lagos -- Nigerians and expats.  This post is in praise of expat women who are talented and dedicated and service-oriented.  They knew that the American Women's Club needed to raise money to continue to support our charities and so they decided to put on a bazaar. They formed a committee and came up with some creative crafts to celebrate the season and called the event a "Spring Fling."  For a number of weeks, some crafters met weekly and made things to sell. 

We covered the bottom of clear glass plates with fabric and sealer to make really cute decorative plates.
When they were drying on cups, they look like mushrooms....

Our lovely plate model here, Pattie, made a beautiful African quilt fabric using the "Steps to Freedom" pattern that was our big raffle item.  (I didn't win it, but I am making a quilt using this pattern now.  Someday I hope to finish it!)

We made fabric Easter eggs to hang on these great iron trees that we had a guy make for us to sell.

Easter egg table runners,
Here's our booth with one lovely model displaying some fabric jewelry,

This is Chi Chi, my favorite Nigerian jewelry maker.
Expats sold things as well as Nigerian vendors.
I didn't take pictures of the bake sale and food booth, but the hot dogs and baked goods brought in some good returns and were popular with the crowd. 
Overall, it was a great success!
Thank you to our fun, crazy, creative, talented Spring Fling organizing committee!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 261st good thing about Lagos: Our oldest son came here on a business trip!

Almost 3 years ago our youngest son, Jordan, came to visit us and see Lagos.  Until this month, he was our first and only family visitor we've had here.  We really didn't expect our married children to be able to come here, so we were thrilled when we learned that our oldest son, Daniel, told us that he would be coming here on a business trip!  He works in research for Shell and came here to teach a new computer model to reservoir engineers.  He was here for almost two weeks and we really enjoyed seeing him and showing him a bit of Lagos, even if he did have to work during the day.  He came over every evening for dinner that he didn't have a business commitment.  Though he stayed with his business colleagues at the hotel during the week, to catch the company bus to and from the office, he did move over to our place over the weekend. 

He enjoyed relaxing at our place in the evenings, playing games on his I-pod.

On our Saturday together, we were glad that one of Brent's co-workers, who works for Total, invited us to come to the Total beach complex.  We've had a wonderful time when we've been here before and we enjoyed showing Daniel a different view of life in Lagos.  Life vests are mandatory on the boat to the beach.

Fresh air, palm trees, open spaces and quiet are all part of a day at the beach.

Though we spent most of our time relaxing by the pool, we did take a walk down the beach.
There are these wrecked boats along the beach -- we
always wonder why they aren't salvaged for the iron.

One great thing about a day at the Total beach is that they cook and provide the meal.  It's a no-worries day!

The whole place is really great, but we wondered why this basketball backboard was sitting on the sand.  No dribbling a lay-up to the basket here!
Video games on the i-pod were the relaxation activity here too.

Big smiles at the chance to be together!
On their last day here, Daniel and his colleagues had some free time, so I took them out to Lekki market for some souvenier shopping.  I wish I had remembered to take their picture at Lekki market. The woman in their group was most excited about the shopping, but I think they all felt good to get out and see something different, good about finishing their work here and ready to head home.  Thank you, Shell, for bringing Daniel here for a visit!

Friday, March 04, 2011

The 260th good thing about Lagos: Good looking Security

On our recent charity visit, ExxonMobil was very generous to provide our bus and security.  After taking a good look at these guys, one member in our group staged a photo which many of us decided to use.  The driver and security guys enjoyed posing for this shot!

The 259th good thing about Lagos: Charity visits

This week, instead of a regular charity committee meeting, I organized a field trip to visit a couple of the charities that the American Women's club supports.  These are a great way to raise awareness of our charities and get women to think about how we can better support them.

We had a bus full of 17 or so, and brought some donations along with us.  Our first stop was my second visit to a Lagos State rehabilitation center in Majidun, Ikorodu.  Here's most of our group in this picture, which is framed by the condensation on my camera lens.

 We weren't allowed to take pictures of this government facility and I won't repeat the same history that I related in my first post about this place.  Though they said there were over a thousand people there, we probably didn't see more than several hundred.  There were good-looking, happy children and heartbreakingly malnourished children, and the same for adults.  Many mentally ill people end up there.  We visited a building that was a dormitory for teenagers that was a really awful place -- we were advised just to peek in the rooms and not to touch anything.  It was smelly and there were naked bodies lying on the floor.  One young boy there recently died from hemorrhoids, which had gotten very bad before anyone even noticed.   It's a tragic place -- so many people there with nothing to occupy them.  There is so much more that could be done.  We came up with some ideas for ways to help them with craft/skills training.

We then drove to Child Life Line, a facility that rescues boys off the streets.   I've written more about this charity in my post after my first visit there.   We were very grateful that the road leading to Ibeshe, the village by this charity, had recently been graded so it didn't have the huge mudholes that we faced on my previous visit!  As we drove down the path leading to the center, we faced a herd of cattle coming our way.  They are now very well photographed cattle, as all the women on the bus got out their cameras.  I wish I had taken a picture of that.

 We had a nice time looking over the facilities at this very pleasant center.  Here's our group in the dining building.
 I was able to see the use of the furniture and kitchen equpment that had been donated by ConocoPhillips in December.  The cook was so grateful for her shelves and cooking equipment!

We were so impressed to see these solar panels on one of their buildings.  They had been donated by someone in the Netherlands.  They said that they provide much of the power the center uses.
 The boys are learning sewing and tailoring.  Most tailors here use these old treadle machines which are more practical with the lack of reliable power.
 There were two sticks stuck in the ground on each side of this sandy area in the field.  Those were the soccer goals.  Like most Nigerian youth, the boys love to play soccer.
There are good people doing important work at both these places, but it was especially interesting to see the contrast between the government center and the private charity.  Given the choice between the two, it was easy to choose where I would stay.

The 258th good thing about Lagos: Unusual fruits

I've started attending a weekly book group that reads African literature (I should feature that in its own post sometime....) and last week a member brought some fruits that I haven't ever seen for us to try.

This first one is called "awin" in Yoruba.  The English name is "velvet tamarind."  This fruit has a furry seed cover (the velvet part) which you peel off and then you suck the pulp off a hard seed which is inedible.  There can't be many calories in this one and it takes a lot of effort to get each one.  But it was kind of tangy and tasty.

This next fruit is called "agbalumo" here and they weren't aware of any English name for it.  It kind of looks like a plum on the outside, but when it is broken open, there are a lot of largish white seeds with pulp around it.  You take out some seeds and suck the pulp off them.  Again, kind of tasty, but not a lot to them.
Although these were interesting and kind of tasty, I could see why they haven't come under widespread cultivation and distribution.

The 257th good thing about Lagos: Visiting a motherless Babies home

Last week after our regular Bible Study, we went as a group to visit an orphanage, called the Motherless Babies Home.  We went to spend some time seeing the facility and holding the babies.  Many of the 100- some children were at school, but there were many babies and toddlers and physically-challenged who were there during the day. 

I really love these women I interact with at Bible Study -- they are such a sincerely good group of women!  Here we are talking to the matron of the orphanage.

 We were not allowed to take pictures of the children, but here are a couple pictures of the facilities.
 Don't know why this picture is so foggy -- I think my camera had some condensation on it.  It really wasn't foggy outside.
 Chevron is a big supporter of this facility, but I was pleased to see that Conoco Nigeria had been a past supporter.

I had a nice time holding a skinny little girl who they said was a year old, but didn't look older than 4 months.  There was a newborn baby who was absolutely precious who had been found in a dumpster the previous week with umbilical cord still attached.  There were a number of heartbreakingly handicapped children who spend their days laying in cribs without much human contact at all.  There were a number of babies and children that looked like nothing but skin and bones.  I know they are fed there, so I didn't know if they had just recently arrived or had some kind of illness that didn't allow them to be nourished.  It was so sad.  But many babies also looked very good and happy.  We brought toys and books for them, but we were warned that they often disappear, taken by workers to their homes.  The Chevron ladies that come there weekly always bring their toys home with them so they have them to use each week when they return.

We had a lovely visit and, since this home is very convenient and welcomes visitors to come as their schedule allows and interact with the babies, I hope to stop in regularly.

The 256th good thing about Lagos: Sixteen years of Small World

I've been in Lagos now for one-fourth of the Small World charity events in Lagos' history, where the expat women's groups get together and work hard to put on food and a show to raise money for Nigerian charities.  This year was the 16th year of Small World and I've been through my own little cycle of Small World participation.  In 2007, I didn't really know anything about it so we didn't go.  Our first Small World in 2008, we bought the tickets and enjoyed the food and the show and I wasn't involved with anything.  In 2009, I helped choose the charity for the American Women's club and I took a shift at the food booth.  Last year, I was over AWC's participation in the event and organized food and also performed with the British group.  It was a busy, stressful event, but really rewarding.  This year, for a number of reasons, the AWC decided not to participate in this event -- and I really felt bad that the Americans weren't there helping with this great evening that raises a lot of money for charity.  But this did allow me to revisit my first year of non-stressful attendance. 

Small World is still going strong despite the abdication of the Americans. They raised over 32 million naira for charity this year.  They now have a very slick looking website. And we had a very nice evening out enjoying food and entertainment.

I didn't get any good pictures of the evening, but I'm going to post some bad ones:

The theme this year was "Go Green."  They wanted to emphasize the importance for the entire planet of protecting our environment.  They used recyclables in the food plates and decorations, used solar powered lighting and recycle bins, they featured fashion made from recycled materials, with the emcee's gowns and also on fashion models on display.

 Here's Brent when we arrived questioning:  "Which country's cuisine should we try first?"  We didn't get to half of the booths before we were stuffed to capacity.
 We did try some pork from the Phillipine's booth....
 We had some performers from the Indian dance team sitting in front of us.  The costumes of all the performers were really spectacular this year.  And we really appreciated that this year, unlike the other years we have attended, there were no outbursts of booing when the group from Israel were performing.  There was noticeably less applause for them than for the Lebanese or Palestinian performers, but at least no rudeness.  I always found that so disturbing.
Hopefully next year the Americans will be back participating in this charity fund-raiser!