Yesterday afternoon Nigel and I went up to London to attend a fundraiser BBQ at the Nigerian High Commissioner’s residence in Kensington.
The BBQ was in aid of the Commonwealth Countries Countries League education fund (CCLF).
The aim of this fund is to enable girls in deprived commonwealth countries continue their secondary school education. The fund is unique in that the money is paid directly to the school to guarantee the girls’ places but also to ensure that the girls’ families/guardians do not divert it to other things.
One of the ways that the fund raises money is through their annual fair and I was introduced to the folk at the education fund by the Ugandan High Commission in London in 2007 and since then I try to get to their events whenever I can. This year’s fair is in the Kensington Town Hall in London on 17 October 2009.
But yesterday’s event was different. We got the opportunity to meet a former recipient and her story was so moving that there was hardly a dry pair of eyes in the audience.
Her Name is Ladi and she is from Nigeria
Ladi’s father had 3 wives and between them bore 13 children and he died unexpectedly living 13 children of primary school age. Ladi’s mother was the first wife therefore all the children from the other two wives were dumped on her door step.
She had no income of her own so she did what she could to find the money to feed the children and any little money went on the education for the boys as the girls were expected to get married as soon as possible
Fortunately for Ladi primary school education is free in Nigeria so she was in school until age 13 and was expected to get married at this age because her mother could not afford to pay the fees for her secondary school education.
As luck would have it Ladi came across CCLF and they agreed to fund her secondary school education and on completion she went on to university. She found a job and paid her way through University.
Ladi majored in Banking and is currently doing a Master’s degree at a London University and is herself sponsoring 20 girls through secondary education.
She said “I am grateful to you good folk for your generosity and you will never know what that means for girls like me”
I turned around and looked at Nigel and everyone around us and we all had tears in our eyes.
Nigel said to me imagine that!
Indeed, on the way up to Kensington we had a conversation about education and recalled a conversation in which my father had said to Nigel to “I paid good money for Ida’s education and I hope you never forget that”
We found it hilarious at the time but my father was serious, education was very important to him especially the education of girls and here we were years later faced with a young girl who had almost missed out on a decent education by virtue of the family/country she was born in.
The mood was very somber on the way home as we went considered Ladi’s words. We compared the situation of girls in the developing world to that of children in western world that fail to appreciate how lucky they are to have access to free education as a right.
For my part I suddenly felt so emotional and my father’s words hit me like a ton of bricks, and today being father’s day I miss him dearly and feel awful that he is not here for me to thank him for my education!
I hope that Ladi’s story will inspire you to help girls like her