nigerian field visits photos

As most of you know I'm in Nigeria for four months to finish my masters, working with an international NGO.

This past week I was able to visit the three child protection teams in northern Nigeria -- Bauchi, Kano, and Kaduna.

It was a great experience, and sits with me deeply. All my senses were taking it in -- the sights of the never ending rubbish, goats at every turn of the road. The smells of all those motorbikes, rubbish fires, and at times, sewage. The sounds of all those motorbikes, the hawking, the mosque calls to prayers. The taste of northern Nigeria cuisine, which even the same basic item (fried yams) tasted different.

And of course, the children. I'm not sure what I think. On one hand, it's easy to be angry when every corner in Kano has a bunch of Almaijari boys begging at every car that passes by -- you spot them by their plastic bowls. Boys are sent to the Almaijari "schools" which are Koranic boarding schools where neither the Koran or any form of education is taught. Instead, they are forced on the streets to beg. Millions of boys in northern Nigeria are in this situation.

But it becomes much more complicated when you travel to the communities. Beyond the poverty, you see so many children during the day who should be in school -- in the streets, hawking, working, caring for other children. It's like another world -- especially in Kano, where these communities are basically a hidden world from the main tar streets. But it's not just as easy to say "well, they should all be in school!" At the schools -- the children enrolled are easily identified by their uniforms, but many more children hang around the schools who are not receiving an education.

However the reaction of the children to the foreign oyibos are always the same regardless. With the little ones, it was like a running, screaming mob. For the older ones, we would walk into a classroom, and they would all be hushed by the teacher. They would sometimes sing a song, or merely say in their loudest, proudest English a big "dank you!" -- and once we walked out, it was like pandemonium as squeeling of delight and wonder filled the room. It was impossible not to hear the children and see their laughs and smiles -- and feel relieved and happy. But at the same time -- I always wondered how naive or presumptuous I was to feel that. How cliche, right?

And for the moment you were all waiting for -- yes I took photos, finally!! I didn't get as many photos of images/experiences that I wanted to. Mainly because I was "working" and not travelling, where I could stop as I'd like. And even when I did get to take photos, it never seemed to capture what I was seeing/feeling.

But they are up on flickr, so click on this link to view --


1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these photos! I love the one of the boy who followed you until you took his photo. What an enriching experience.