November 12, 2006
12 November, 2006
Our bags were packed and ready to go when Ugo and Uduma met us early this morning. After taking photos with hotel staff, we drove to a church service held at the Women's Development Center. Sadness at our leaving mingled with waves of gratitude, shaking and rocking me as tears silently rolled down my cheeks.
Soon we were on the road to Enugu for a flight to Lagos. As is typical for road travel in Nigeria, we were stopped as several police checkpoints for scrutiny and unofficial tolls. Saying goodbye to Ugo at the airport, we knew that a powerful and important bond had been forged, many seeds of partnership had been sown, and we would be together again.
James and I were delighted to have Uduma accompany us to Lagos. After settling into our hotel room, he took us to the beach. Being driven through the city of Lagos was a harrowing experience. Moving at high speeds, constantly honking at motorbikes and minibuses with people hanging on to open doors, I felt like I was in a videogame. The road to the beach had "potholes" the size of the car. Beach access was controlled by local youths with a makeshift gate charging 100 naira/person (about 75 cents U.S.). The shore was lined with huts and stalls, and the beach itself filled with young people enjoying the evening. As we stood on the coast of Africa, gazing across the ocean we knew the Atlantic Ocean would always connect us to this land and these people.
As dusk began to settle, these reveries were interrupted by another reality. James and Uduma quickly hustled us off the beach, their keen street senses having noticed a group of youth who were gradually closing in on us.
Treating Uduma to dinner was one small way we expressed our gratitude to him for taking care of us throughout our time in Nigeria. But even more than that, we have found a true brother of the heart, who has promised to carry the spirit of our work for the rest of his life. Other than the Bible, he said this has been the most uplifting and inspiring experience of his life.
â€” Steven Botkin, Executive Director
Men's Resources International, USA
Posted by Daniel at November 12, 2006 11:45 AM