On the 28th April 2017 Mary and John of SELL Resource Team had a day with 62 Youths and Vulnerable Children between the ages of 3-35 at Lemna, Ikot-Ansa, Calabar in Cross River States. They are called “Skolombo Children” and have been in existence long ago, initially they were harmless but later grew and became a menace to the society. Based on interview, the major origin of the Skolombo could be traced to the family and the Church. In the Families, some are branded witches and wizards, as a result, some parents throw those children into the street where they grow up and learn the street life. Some of them are of single parenthood, whereby, the mother is not capable of taking care of them; hence the child ends up in the streets doing all sort of job as well as criminal activities; they are within the ages of 8 and 15.
“For me, I don’t have any where to go. For 10 years, I have been on the street fending for myself. I live a street life and I can’t trace my parents” declared one of the boys known as Samuel. They operated like beggars; hanging around the street corners but later becoming dangerous as they grew bigger and matured with street life.
Worried by this menace, which poses a threat to a healthy society propelled SELL Foundation to have a day of Peace Talk with Skolombo Children as a support to the ongoing intervention by the youth of St. Patrick Missionary Parish, Ikot-Ansa , Calabar who goes there to feed them every Tuesdays and Fridays by 3pm amongst other programmes. The Peace talk focused on the need for them to become Peace Makers in all life situations they encountered and a way forward out of their present conditions. 30 percent of these Children are willing to live the street Life.
“I want to live the place; I want to move forward “ as declared by Grace, one of the Children. It was quite challenging to interact with these Children. Initially they claimed they are all from cross Rivers, but we discovered later that some of them came from Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi and Rivers States, respectively. This brings to bear the significance of setting a conducive atmosphere before engaging them and the need for our work in Self Awareness become more evident, particularly the areas of KNOWING ONESELF AND RIVER OF LIFE. This was used as entering point to get the Children talking and sharing their life experiences. In the end, a lot of learning’s were gathered such as to know where one is headed, there is a need to evaluate the past, Present and the Future as well as set positive dream and strive for Peace in all live situation.
Street Children anywhere constitute societal embarrassment as children of school age hanging around the street corners begging and doing menial jobs to survive, while their mates are in school. Moved by these situation, the SELL Foundation challenged the Youths of St. Patrick’s Parish, Ikot Ansa to continue with the Project of rescuing the Street Children not only by providing Feeding and clothing but to as well offer them life Building Skills and Partner with other like minded bodies in order to rescue the Skolombo Children from Street Life.
On the other hand, SELL continued her work of reaching out to the youth by extending the programme to the Youth of St Patrick Parish Ikot Ansa, Cross Rivers State and this time, the focus was on Justice Unit of the SELL Programme which was explored on the 29th of April 2017. The sessions reflected upon were; newspaper analyses, exploring our attitudes, our political, economical and social system, as well as image of Nigeria as a Country. The Workshop was held on the 29thth April and lot of wisdom was harmonized in that workshop around intercultural living, critical consciousness and the way forward towards systems and social change.The Youths shared their experiences in regards to intercultural living and God Fatherism regarding uneven distribution of resources and lack of employment opportunities as it is today rather than a romanticized notion. In the course of the workshop, it was also realized that Nigeria imports more than Exports. Hence the economic strength of a county relies on her ability to export more. Therefore, it was resolved that participants should patronize more of Nigeria products rather than buying foreign goods and they also commit to an action plan to sensitize their People on taking ownership of their identity as Nigerians as well as partnering with other organization to rescue Skolombo Children. Some of the participants had this to say at the end of the Programme:” It is not enough to only observe a culture from a distance, but it is good to also discover what is hidden and is unspoken or even unconscious in a culture because there is a link between them, we need to seek alternative to livelihood to reduce over dependence on white collar jobs. In the end, there was a ream of hope where all the Youths present suggested solutions the problem of Nigeria can be eradicated through attitudinal Change. The Workshop was facilitated by John Jiddere and Mary James. It recorded 15 Participants in attendance. (10 males and 5 Females). After the Workshop, the Youths had a Football March with the Youths of a neighboring Parish named St Charles, we were there as observers to give them moral Support and in the process of interaction; they got to hear about SELL and then pleaded with us to put them in our Programme as we return next year to Calabar.
It was a worthwhile experience being in Calabar to Work with a group of heartwarming young adults. While thanking all those that saw to the success of the Programme, we expressed our gratitude to Frs. Pat Cocoran, Kelleher and Cletus Udoh who played host to the Facilitators.
God Bless you all for the Support. Thank You.