One of the things that I have always wanted to do more of is to sightsee in Lagos. If I could stand the heat I would literally sit on a street corner in Lagos somewhere and just watch people all day. It’s fascinating! Always something to see, sounds to hear, people to meet, etc. You get the picture.
It’s also a great way for all of our volunteers to better understand Nigeria and to develop a love for the country.
We started the day by visiting the Yaba Technical College in Lagos. This is a very fine school with a great arts program where Dickson actually studied. We all had fun seeing the talented students and admiring their works.
We then dropped by another orphanage unannounced which housed mentally and physically disabled kids. I can only show you photos of the kids we were allowed to photograph. There was an entire wing of about 20+kids who were severely disabled and the owner of this facility told us we could not take pictures. This was very sobering. Many of the kids were lying in an almost catatonic state, some in their own bodily fluids, some with flies in and around their mouths. It was a scene none of us will ever be able to “un-see” but I, for one, am glad to have seen this only because it re-emphasized just how much help the truly helpless there need.
We then paid a visit to the local market. Honestly, this was the most worried I have ever been on any of my trips to Nigeria. We were a big group of Americans in very crowded, busy streets of this market that would have been impossible to escape quickly if we needed to. We got out of our bus and immediately attracted some of Lagos’ not so finest characters. Let’s put it this way, I have never seen someone lick the window of a dirty bus but I did on this day. Ewww!
However, none of the ladies or my kids were too worried about things which was great but my head was on a swivel and my guard was definitely up. After about 30-45 minutes of shopping and having fun, Dickson said to me: “Let’s go! There are some bad boys around and I can’t handle all of them myself.” I didn’t see who he was talking about but I didn’t need to. Dickson is a very big dude that no one in their right mind would ever mess with on their own so when he says “go,” we go. We didn’t run but we made a pretty straight line back for the bus which was now surrounded by a larger group of “men” who were now determined to play the “shakedown” game for letting us park our bus in “their” territory. Dickson nearly clocked the most vocal one or two and gave them something like a few dollars to go away. They did. Then we drove off and I breathed a sigh of relief.
Of course, I don’t know just how much danger we might actually have been in. Probably not as much as I feared but I take my responsibility of showing everyone the time of their life and returning in one piece very seriously. I am a very cautious person by nature so probably over-reacted but that’s how I prefer it. I think the ladies thought I was being a bit dramatic but the key thing is we made it back safely to the hotel for dinner.
We will definitely build in some dedicated time for sightseeing on our future trips as it gives us all a better look into the people’s lives here which is critical to helping us know where we can make the biggest impact.