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STOG Stories #3

“I am eight(8) years old and I sell sachet water. My mother told me to go and make money for her. I need to work for food”

“I am thirteen (13) years old. I was sent to Ibadan from Lagos by my grandmother at the age of ten because it’s safer to hawk on the streets of Ibadan than Lagos. I sell ponmo and pure water. I have to fend for myself.”

“I am six (6) years old. I live with some older boys because I have no where else to go. It’s either I sleep there or on the street and I have been occasionally abused.”

“The street is my home. I live on it, I make money from it, I have to survive on my own.”

The eyes holds more stories than the lips dare to tell. Just as it did of the young boy who stood on stage to passionately express his desire to go to school. This boy had been sent to Ibadan from Lagos by his grandma because apparently it is safer to hawk there. He had to fend for himself, barely living from hand to mouth as the days rolled by. One didn’t have to stand so close to see the storms raging in his eyes. A little closer and one might drown in them. It wasn’t just his, most of the children who had gathered for the REVAMP Street Outreach held an uncanny similarity in their eyes; awakened hope.

It was what we were going for, to give the children an opportunity to dream again. They were/are children not adults but most of them were carrying burdens too heavy for their little shoulders. Sinmi held their gaze with an encouraging smile. She was determined to do all she could to help them and she did.

The revamp process started by stripping them of their street garments and situating them in schools. But that wasn’t enough, it’s commonly said that bad habits die hard. STOG (under the leadership of Sinmi Alao) wasn’t going to give room for that, their parents had to rise up to their responsibilities. However, one had to admit, most of the parents couldn’t afford to take care of themselves talk more of their children. We had to empower their parents in the little way we could.

Another point of consideration was the fact that most of the children did not have parents or strong affiliation with relatives to assist them. With this in mind, the construction of the STOG revamp center began. This revamp center will go on to provide street children admitted via our revamp outreach with after-school lessons and learning materials, oversee the admission of the children into school, purchase of their school uniforms, enrich them with a meal per day and further engage them in vocational trainings, skill development programs, community service and bible studies, from 2:30pm till 6pm.

All was set to secure a better future for the children and on the 29th of May, the revamp center was officially opened. A new chapter began for both the Mission and the thirty (30) children registered at the revamp center. Today, all the children have commenced lessons and have gotten their uniforms. If one could capture in words, the joy on the faces of the children upon receiving their uniforms, it would be; absolute delight.

“… I have hope so I smile”.

“… I am a child not an adult”.

“… I choose school not street”.