GLEN Lagos Nigérie 2010

* * * * * * * * * * * * povídání a fotky z tříměsíční GLEN stáže v Lagosu * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * stories and pictures from a three-month internship in Lagos * * * * * * * *

Stáž / Internship

Holiday Camp in Ajegunle

As the distance of the centers where we should implement our holiday program grows, the enthusiasm and commitment of our colleagues declines. The idea of traveling through the whole city by bus is unbearable for them. On the first day, they manage to survive the two hours long journey with three changes of buses, but after it is over, they suggest we really try to find a car for tomorrow, because it is simply too much of stress for them.

This attitude makes me a bit angry. Our holiday program is ready and it feels like waste not to realize it just because it is a bit more difficult than the previous weeks. We have to argue a bit to prove our point. Already we had to postpone the program for two weeks. First we were busy with the International Freestyle Day and the next week the end of Ramadan and two days of national holidays took place. Furthermore our organization still doesn't have any money which forces us to take a crucial decision. Either we simply resign and give up on the holiday program or we have to pay the travel costs with our own money. We decide to choose the second option and so every day me and Helen put the money together for the bus tickets or fuel.

 But it is worth it. Ajegunle is the biggest slum in Africa. Over three million people live here on a crowded space between two biggest Nigerian ports Apapa and Tincan. When people say the world Ajegunle, it is usually brings negative associations such as high criminality rate, struggle for survival and poverty. In reality the name surprisingly means „residence of wealth“. It is a never ending field of little sheds and houses built from metal plates, wood and cardboards without water and sanitations. There is no electricity and most of the people can not afford a generator. People usually work as traders, so the mud streets are lined with little stalls and shops. 

Ajegunle is also a place where people of various tribes, cultures and religious backgrounds live next to each other in some kind of peaceful coexistence. Like the participants of our program. Every day they start and finish the program with a prayer. I quietly listen and can't believe what I am hearing. “The prayer that you just said was a Muslim prayer, right?” I ask the coordinator. The girl that recited the prayer first covered her hair under a scarf and then all of them left their hands open as if they were holding a book in them. “Yes it was,” he replies. “But in the morning when we started you said a Christian prayer?” “Well, there is about half of Muslims and half of Christians here, so we always switch it.” “And they don't mind?” “No, why should they? We live here all together and we all know the other religion as well as the prayers.” Shame it doesn't work like this all over the world.

The holiday program is a bit different from the previous ones. We use community hall instead of a football field, a building that serves as well as a stage and a church. Instead of two hundred children of various ages, we have a group of forty young people in their teens. There is much higher rate of girls in here compared to the other centers, but they are still a minority. It is easy to organize and manage four small groups and the participants are older and understand the games and activities more easily.

We are enjoying the program a lot. There is great fun during the introduction games which the teenagers play with quite an enthusiasm and energy. We end the first day traditionally with a football match. We use the stage instead of a field and the game is played as a bit bigger version of table football. Instead of figures we have human players that stay at one spot and are able to move just into sides, because they hold a rope in their hands which limits their movement back and front. We use chairs instead of goals and it first seems to me that it will be to hard to score, but they manage anyway.

Most surprising is how talented the participants are as we can observe during the workshops. One group prepares few songs and I simply admire them as they perform them in a choir fashion. The dance creations and football tricks are of course not missing, the Ajegunle kids received great applause as well at our International Freestyle Day. One of the girls prepared interesting HIV/AIDS prevention workshop, one of the guys created original and breathtaking   poem about Nigeria. The other groups prepared plays and when they preformed the audience enjoyed them and rewarded with applause.

But it shouldn't surprise me that much. Ajegunle is well known for being the origin of many famous Nigerian artists and football players. These singers, entertainers and footballers managed to achieve their dreams despite the harsh living conditions. They are great role models for the young people from Ajegunle. They represent hope that escape from the hard conditions is not as impossible and hopeless as it could seem.  

(Poems and dramas can be found at Děti / Kids Section)

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