Celebrations take on more meaning when there’s a higher cause involved, when humanity is affected. On the 29th of August 2015, CLUB X International and Inner City Mission went on a tour, tagged the #InnerCityXperience. This tour was part of activities marking Club X International’s 6th anniversary as an entertainment platform committed to spreading the gospel of Christ. The Inner City Mission took the members of Club X International on a tour of one of their inner cities (more commonly known as slums or ghettos); where they help impoverished children and their parents to live a better life in spite of their circumstances.
The venue of the tour was the inner city of Ilaje-Otumara, in Lagos Mainland L.G.A, Lagos State. As we approached the entrance of the community, the Baale gave a vote of thanks in appreciation of what we came to do. He was grateful for the support of the InnerCity Mission in their community. He encouraged the young people to work hard and be an inspiration to the younger generation.
InnerCity Mission is a faith-based NGO that delivers a sustainable solution to the problem of urban and rural child poverty in the inner city communities. On the day of the tour over a hundred born-again, tongue-talking, fun-loving, upwardly mobile, trendy-dressed young people, from different denominations and united by love for Christ, came together to visit Otumara. None of them left the same.
These people were touched in ways they never knew possible. Seeing and experiencing firsthand the plight of the humans living in such deplorable conditions as could be seen in Otumara, it was hard to keep away the tears, knowing that people whom God created and loved lived in this kind of unimaginable conditions.
In trying to understand in the kind of conditions the people of Otumara live in, imagine a stench that remains in the air for miles, covering acres and acres of land where the only solid ground you can step on is actually made of piles of waste (read refuse, excreta and decomposing waste). In its ‘dry’ state it’s more like compost, only richer. You don’t want to imagine its wet state, it’s a swamp. Whatever drainage is visible is full of dirty, murky, smelly water swarmed with flies and bits of dead animals, to say the least. People dry clothes on clotheslines above piles of refuse. It is hard to take a deep breath in this environment. Let’s not talk about food and cooking, or rather let’s talk about it. Imagine cooking beside refuse. That’s what happens here on a daily basis. Fruits are kept in storage on top of stacks of rotten wood, placed over stones strategically placed to support the fruits above small rivulets of waste water black with decomposed organic material.
Just as SamJamz, one of the artistes that came came on the tour said, it was a tour for the people who came, but this is the everyday experience for the people of the community, especially the children. This everyday experience is one in which it’s hard to imagine the kids dreaming of high and lofty things like becoming President.
Soltune, another artiste who came on the tour, narrated how excited the kids were when he bought them sweets, after one of them garnered enough boldness to ask on behalf of his friends.
Casey Ed, on his Instagram page @caseyed2014 describes how all a particular child wanted was to be carried so his picture could be taken. That was all the child wanted; the physical touch of love from another human being and the sense of being a part of something loftier than he slum he called home.
Everyone who came on the tour left knowing that there was more to life than one’s present circumstances. We can do something to help the less privileged ones around us, especially the children. This is the reason for the actions of the Inner City Missions, which uses the school as a control environment so as to track the situation of children in the community, making sure they are available to learn. This enables consistency in their rehabilitation and helps children come away from poverty and the diasadvanteges of being in the ghettos.
We stopped to hold interviews from the artistes and officials of InnerCity Mission and Club X International. As the popular award-winning artiste Nosa says, “It’s always being about the holding in, now we are about the reaching out.” People recounted how this tour brought to light the frivolous complains we make, how we need to change our gadgets, our wardrobe, our house, forgetting that there are numerous people living in far worse conditions than ours, and that we could actually do a world of good for them in one way or the other. The irony is that the slum that is Otumara is smack dab inside Lagos state, surrounded by the National Theatre, the suburbs of Surulere and Yaba and Lagos Island. From inside the slum we could see the National Theatre. Talk about the juxtaposition of wealth and abject poverty.
This is surely an eye opener, to show us how much more we can do to help the children and adults in this area. No one deserves to live in such deplorable conditions. We can do something to help, we can partner with NGOs like the InnerCity Mission to change the lives of many. It starts from somewhere, it starts with you.
For more information, please follow on Twitter and Instagram @clubxintl and @InnercityHQ. Find us on Facebook: “InnerCity Mission” and “Club X International” and on the web http://www.thisisclubxintl.com and http://www.innercitymissions.org
Officials of the Inner City Mission:
Director: Pastor Sholayinka Agboola
Bro. Charles Osakwe (Community Mobilisation Manager)
Pastor Victor Nosegbe
Ijeoma Prisca Kamalu
Officials of Club X International:
Lawrence Omo-Iyare (President of Club X Intl)
Temisan Wilkie (Director of Club X Intl)
Club X International