‘Several times, we try not to care about those less privileged than us, but we will always need that help from those more privileged than we are.’-Otto

There was a professor who stayed beside our house in Benin City, Edo State. He wore shorts and his glasses hung from his neck by a string.  Everyone called him ‘Prof’. My mum was a Literature teacher in one of the nearby secondary schools. After finishing her collection of literature texts, I desired a new source. That was when I stumbled on Prof’s library. It was made up of a single bookshelf. This shelf was taller than me, and took up the expanse of an entire wall. This discovery set off weekly trips that saw me dashing in and out of his house to get a novel. Since I returned all the books in good condition, prostrated whenever I came into his compound and returned a book before picking another, Prof let me be. Out of curiosity, he called me one day. I approached him timidly, holding loosely the copy of William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ which I had just finished reading.

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies

‘So you have read that book, eh?’

‘Yes sah’

Did you understand it?’

‘Yes sah’. And I proceeded to tell him the story of the boys shipwrecked on an island. I must have gotten incensed when I described the leadership tussle between Jack and Ralph. I must have gotten emotional when I described Piggy’s death.

From then on, he always stopped by on the road to ask what book I was reading, responded excitedly to my greetings and smiled whenever I came to ‘raid’ his library’. When the time came for us to leave Benin City, his library was one of the things I felt bad at leaving.

***

Growing up, a House Fellowship held in our house. It held at 6 p.m. every Monday. I always loved those moments because our average sized sitting room would be full; I would have to bring chairs from the Dining Section for the extra guests. Then Fellowship members would pull me aside and ask questions about my Common Entrance score, choice of secondary school and other nine-year old life decisions. That was when I met Uncle Stanley. I remember the first day he invited me to his house. He allowed me to slice the yam, light the stove and put it on fire. I returned home excitedly to tell my mum I knew how to cook yam. Before you know it, I graduated to cooking jellof rice and other assorted cuisines.

What I do these days

What I do these days

IMG-20121225-00390

***

So you see, these young men all added up to my present state. My love for cooking and books would be impossible without them. That’s why I give kudos to people who spend the greater part of their existence giving back. They recreate themselves in young kids. They will never die, you know? This informs my choice of Person of the Year.

***

He is the initiator of the Slum 2 School Project. S2S is a social advocacy group created to change lives especially that of the less-privileged and orphaned kids. Earlier in the year, he partnered with governmental and non-governmental organizations, community elders and many guests to enroll 118 children into 3 schools which would see them through the first six years of formal education.

The S2S Team

Some S2S Volunteers. The S2S Team boasts of 500 volunteers

Under his leadership, the group recently enrolled about 202 school children in the Makoko Community to school, at no extra cost to the parents and care givers. The criteria for choosing the beneficiaries were primarily hinged on children between the age brackets of 3-14, who do not have parents, aunts or guardians into school. The enrollment ceremony was heralded by the free medical missions tagged “Net A Child Project”, which was carried out in the Makoko community to propagate the malaria intervention project. Free treated nets were given to all the beneficiaries as well as other medical services by the Junior Achievement/ Chevron medical teams.

This December the SLUM 2 School Project has designed a special Christmas celebration called ‘Christmas in a Box’, to bring simple, lovable items to less privileged children who may never have the chance to obtain them.

It is normal among the S2S volunteers to go into the slum, forfeit well-paying jobs, sacrifice weekends, train community youths, organize series of outreaches and advocacy visits. This year, they have sent 320 children to school. These children would have still been locked down in the slum-hawking, paddling their boats for small change or even being abused.

Kids with their gift boxes after the 'Christmas in a Box' event

Kids with their gift boxes after the ‘Christmas in a Box’ event

My Person of the Year is none other than Otto Orondaam.

Otto Orondaam in a canoe in Makoko

Otto Orondaam in a canoe in Makoko

For more on the Slum 2 School activities and to volunteer, visit http://communityimpactng.wordpress.com/

Comments
  1. TOYOSI says:

    I love every piece you write,its like I’m there in reality watchin it happen. You express everything that happens to you in a vivid and interesting manner to read. Kudos my dear.

  2. The boss is here again…always on point. Pls let’s see more of this in 2013. Compliments of the season

  3. Obinna Obika says:

    Congratulations Orondaam! Keep up the good work

  4. mayorbrawn says:

    Nice one. I had my final year project on makoko slum regeneration. If you have all the money in the world instead acquiring fleet of cars. Donate to reach lives in true need. OTTO is a great man. Volunteer…….. loading

  5. nshina says:

    Dear Osisiye, I’m very impressed by your writing and choice of topics to write about…been playing catch up with your posts..hehehehe!

    I want to make a positive impact in Nigeria but whatever I could contribute to the betterment of our nation seems so insignificant that I end up giving up. I must say that I’m humbled by the achievements of Orondaam. I first met him at an AIESEC conference in Ghana and then at subsequent AIESEC conferences in Naija. He doesn’t have two heads and his eyes do not exceed the normal two…he’s just a regular Joe with a dream. I’m amazed that he has achieved so much in such a short time. He is indeed living life the AIESEC way and is an inspiration to us all.

    Thank you for reminding us about what’s important. I hope that someday I will also be recognized as someone who made a difference in Nigeria.

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