Saturday, March 10, 2012

The 301st good thing about Lagos: A street boy got a life-line

I've written before about Child Life-Line, a charity that has a residential center for boys that are rescued from the street and also a drop in day center for street kids.  We visited both centers on Valentine's Day, brought them some cookies and brought a couple of new American Women's Club volunteers to see their facilities.

I took more pictures, but there's not a lot different from my earlier visits, so here's just a couple: 

Here's their dining area,
 and some boys looking at the the fish tanks, which they had recently restocked.  They will use the fish for food when they get bigger.

We had an interesting discussion with one of the older boys who was there during our visit.  I won't mention his name for privacy reasons.  But he told us how he came to live on the street.  He was 8 years old and he wanted to go to a friend's party which would be going very late.  His father said he was not allowed to go to the party and said that he if went he would beat him so hard he would kill him.  I guess this father did have a history of abusive behavior and the boy believed him, but he still decided to go to the party.  The party was over around 2 in the morning (yeah, I'd be pretty angry if my 8 year old was out till the middle of the night at a party without my permission!) and he decided that he would just run away from home rather than go home to have a beating.  So he just left.  He migrated to a different place in Lagos and started working as a bus conductor (at 8!).  The "bus conductors" ride on the mini buses like the one in this picture, usually hanging out the door, collecting money from the passengers as they cram inside the bus.  It's really kind of a dangerous job, as many times they end up falling out of the bus.  I can't imagine an 8-year-old doing this job.

He slept under the bus at night and every once in a while would pay a little money to wash up at a public bath house.  He lived like this for 3 years and when he was 11 he got tired of this life.  He had heard of Child Life Line from somewhere and he was able to get a place there.  They sent him to school, helped him get in touch with his family.  He talks to his father regularly now and says they have a pretty good relationship, but he doesn't want to go home to live with them.  He says he has better opportunities living at Child Life Line.  He is currently 16 years old and is working at an apprenticeship for a printer.  He enjoys his work.  He has another year and then he will have to move out on his own, but he feels he will be ready.  He seemed like a good young man and I'm glad that this charity organization was there to give him a life line to help him get off the streets.

1 comment:

O.A.Eddy said...

Very interesting. I would like to visit the center one day.