Friday, April 25, 2008

Cleaning up the mess...

As Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute says, “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, will we help. And, only if we help, shall all be saved.” A couple of years ago, I met Kunle Oyeyinka, a young man who has a burning passion to clean up the mess in his community. By mess, I do not refer to the glaring garbage on the street of Lagos or the deteriorating state of the drainage system. These are just a fraction of the challenges our world is facing compared the state of some children, the pride of the present and the hope of the future.

What do we teach children these days? Do we still teach them to take care of beautiful things and not model shocking habits of adults who appear a bad example? Well, I am afraid the answer is “yes” and “no”. Yes for those who have someone to teach them how important it is to keep good values and no for those who have never had the opportunity to meet someone to show them the light for them to follow. These are the children locked in the dark of social justice, the out-of-school or never-been-to-school children with no dreams or hopes for the future. These are the ones who in later years may become street urchins, a menace to the society if nothing is done to stop this mess from eroding on the society.

It is in an attempt to mitigate this that Kunle Oyeyinka started up “Help the child foundation”, a community based organization committed to building a learning facility at the grassroots for disadvantaged children. For him, life has not always been a bed of roses. However, the passion to educate the poor children in his community was ignited during one of his visit to the hangout where he patronizes drug dealers. While he was snuffing the cannabis, he got his sense of social justice. For the first time, he seem to notice so many children running around the drug-hood, oblivious of the danger they were exposing themselves to and their parents didn’t know better. “These children ought to be learning something more productive” he thought to himself.

Today, Kunle is done with drugs; he is committed to building the nation for the future. To him, there is more to being youth than doing drugs. And to express himself and passion effectively, he mobilizes some of his friends from university of Lagos to teach these children with limited opportunity to learn about arts or science due to their parents’ financial constraint. A free mini-school is now up and running in the neighborhood and the children are thankful for the opportunity.

In addition to this, Kunle and his friends sometimes organizes special outings/excursions to interesting places like the museum, galleria, cinema, beach etc. Imagine children who have always known only the four walls of the ghetto having such exposure at no cost! For some of them, it is a life changing experience that will get them thinking of how best to position themselves to also be an asset to bring a positive change in other people’s lives. Kunle Oyeyinka and his friends are touching lives and cleaning up the mess around them because they care and believe it is our responsibility to keep our country clean.

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