The Children of Ikota

The sun hit me with its harsh rays immediately I stepped out of the car. The coolness I enjoyed from the air condition in the car quickly vanished and I reached to rub my palm on my exposed neck instinctively. We had come to a Bethesda School in Ikota to assist the teachers with profiling candidates for the available 70 slots at the school. I had imagined we would be interviewing at most a 100 people because Ikota seemed like a small community and could definitely not have so many children. With over 300 children already admitted into the school, how many more children could this community really have to offer up for admission? My imagination received a big shock when I walked into the school to witness a crowd of over 800 children. Over 800 children in this small community without access to quality education? I asked myself as my brows furrowed in contemplation. I greeted the teachers and was paired with two of them as we were told to handle the interviews for Nursery 2 and Basic 1. The children were already arranged in straight lines but from time to time you could hear their parents argue about the position of their child on the queue but eventually they all calmed down and we could begin the exercise. There were about 80 children in front of us hoping to get a slot. 30 of them were to be selected to write an entrance exam after which only 14 of them would make the final cut. Knowing this I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as I watched them endure the heat just for a chance to get into school.     Every child I met had a heart wrenching story to tell and I found myself gazing into space for minutes as I tried to decide whether they deserved a spot or not compared to the other children. There were children who had not been in school for months and years, children who had lost both of their parents and were living with an aunt who already had too many mouths to feed; children whose fathers had abandoned them and their mothers had no source of income. I looked over the applicants on paper after I had met each and every one of them and began the hard task of selecting 30 of them who now had to fight for the available 14 slots. If a small community like Ikota could offer up to 800 disadvantaged children, then the whole of Nigeria would offer how many? Bethesda is indeed helping lives but there is still so much work to be done! The children we took in still need a lot of help, they need uniforms, books, health care not to mention at least a meal a day to help them better assimilate in the classroom. I have started my journey with Bethesda in ensuring that these disadvantaged children are given an opportunity to make the most of their lives, you can begin your journey too and help make child illiteracy and disadvantaged children a myth in Nigeria.
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