The Bethesda Beneficiary.
Thirteen years ago, I was born in a slum just on the outskirts of Lagos. I was said to be very skinny mostly because that year had been very difficult for my parents.
My father had grown weary of hearing stories about men from his village – Naze, crossing over from Imo to Lagos state and changing their family’s lives forever.
Naturally after 38 years of life in Naze, my father decided to uproot his pregnant wife and 3 children. Together, they made the journey down to Lagos.
The journey was tough but the first months in Lagos were tougher. My father had not done his research and had not accounted for high rent prices unlike in our village, Naze. They had slept under bridges for a couple of days until they finally found a slum just on the outskirts of Lagos in Epe.
My father got his first job as a security guard in a factory close to where we lived, a job that payed a meagre sum of N2,000 monthly, but how could he turn it down when he had mouths to feed?
The wage might have been a good sum of money in Naze where food stuff was mostly cheap, but here in Lagos, it could barely keep an adult well fed for a month.
My father became an economist overnight and he finally decided that after my mother gives birth to me, she would return with me and my siblings to Naze as this would lead to a more effective use of his small salary.
His plans however, were destroyed when my mother died while giving birth to me and my father was left alone with a new born child and 3 children ages 7, 6 and 3. My siblings were too young to send back to the village and my father had not been given time off from his work to go drop us off with his mother.
With his salary so small and 4 children my father sent the 2 eldest children to a lesson where they paid N500 a month which was basically a waste of resources as the teachers were very poor and mostly taught in Pidgin English.
In the bid to get closer to the city, my father moved us again to another slum (Ikota) when I was 5 years old. I had still never been to school and my father was hurt by this as he wanted a better life than he had for his children.
A message went round Ikota a couple of months after we arrived there. A school was admitting children for free. My father saw an opportunity and took me and my siblings to enrol.
The school had limited resources and it was understandable when they couldn’t accept every child (over 1,000) that had applied.
I was lucky though, and I was admitted into Nursery one. That was how I became a Bethesda beneficiary and now 7 years later, I am in Primary 5 and I am doing quite well. I even manage to teach my father some Basic English and Mathematics when he gets home from work.
I am a light in my family and I hope to keep my father’s dream of giving his family a better life alive.