At the beginning of the COVID19 lockdown, I considered myself f the fortunate ones because I had friends and family members in the UK, US, ad Canada. ‘Las las’, I will get serious hard currencies whenever I cry to my people in diaspora.
At the peak of the lockdown, around June, I watched as my bag of rice shrunk to a few cups of grains. Three teenagers, a toddler and a wife in the house, my brother, the siren alarm began to sound louder with each passing day. And by the way, I am an Art teacher in one of the high brow schools. In my place of work, payment of salaries had been suspended right from May due to the lockdown while my rent expired during April. Teachers had to rely on peanuts coming from online Zoom lessons.
I swung into action like Tarzan in the jungle. I whisked out my android phone and confidently started tapping on the screen, names of diaspora friends, ‘frenemies’, and families. Moments later, I received my first response. My in-law in London replied on WhatsApp saying, “How are you guys? We are also in a tight situation over here. I’m so sorry…”
Three responses, later on, they were the same messages from every one of them. Then, I suddenly knew the true color of desperation. Not only was I broke, but I had run out of foodstuff and none of my ‘people’ overseas could bail me out.
Are you a Nigerian? Does this experience sound familiar? Yes, I believe it does because so many people I knew around me were passing through the same thing.
I started thinking of all manner of theories on why I wasn’t getting any assistance from my diaspora connections. Could it be that I wasn’t the only one begging from these five friends of mine? Or, could it be their lockdown conditions were similar to mine?
All I knew was that I was in BIG trouble. So I had to look inwards, think of what to do ASAP. As a Fine Art teacher, I decided to hook up with a friend who has an art workshop. He makes 3D plastic neon signs and paints portraits in oil. His business, especially the plastic neon signs, was booming. But I could only watch and learn like an apprentice, which wasn’t bad in terms of gathering knowledge. At the end of the day, he would kindly squeeze #500 into my hands which was enough just for one large loaf of bread.
I became desperate. I even imagined attempting an internet scam! You see, that’s what happens in times of desperation. Your mind becomes a guinea pig for the devil. Thank God, I didn’t indulge in such criminal activities. But, it was that close.
The month of September is now about to end. The government had ordered schools to resume. I bet you are wondering how my family and I survived these horrific moments. I will tell you. There’s absolutely no hiding of facts here because I consider this write up as a no holds bar session.
As a skillful teacher with over 20 years of experience, I later realized that I have myriads of good and wonderful people surrounding me. These good people became my source of survival. When there were no ways of getting sustenance, I simply. raised my hands and slowly fell into the loving hands of the parents of my school. They, and not my diaspora friends, came to me. rescue. I started receiving little stipends from here and there. I couldn’t believe it. And like they say, little drops make a mighty ocean.
But what was so amazing was that an angel of a parent later donated 1.04million naira to my school as palliatives to our suffering staff members. Another parent gave out5000 naira to each one of us. May God reward all of you wonderful parents for coming to our aid.
I truly appreciated my calling as a teacher after pondering over these incidents. I came to the conclusion that whatever you find yourself doing, do it wholeheartedly and diligently because people see you and will surely evaluate you based on the quality of your work. I believe that if I hadn’t put in quality into my work all these years, parents would have ignored my plea for help.