I must confess that I never gave the almajiris a second thought until a few days ago when I came across BEACONS Nigeria’s project to clothe the Almajiris. I have no issues with confessing my disposition to the Almajiris. Naturally, there’s a part of me that reacts against them whenever I see them at motor parks begging. Could it have been my fault? Of course not. I must have been mis-informed. So, over these years, I have been operating based on the wrong information. Somebody lied.
Co-incidentally, I have been staying in one of the Almajiri centers for the past two days. *Not as a facilitator, though* I have a corper friend who was allocated a room in the same compound the Almajiris live. So, due to some other reasons, I had to be in his house. Upon my arrival there, something fired up in me. “So, I’ll be staying with these people for a few days?” “Never, I said to myself”. How come I find myself in the midst of the people I have been running away from.
Friends, things have changed since then. As I write this, I am already thinking about extending my stay in the compound primarily because of the Almajiris. I’ll love to study them more and have a total re-orientation about them. I also want to make friends with them, if possible. For the past two days, I have gotten a different view of who these outcasts really are.
- Great Readers: One of the things I noticed about them is that they are the best set of readers I have ever seen. Trust me on that. The’ve been reading since I got here. Even though, I am not too clear about what they’re reading. Had it been they have access to quality education and still maintain their reading habit, I dare say that Nigeria’s best students will emerge from these outcasts. They wake up as early as 3:30 am despite the fact they that sleep late. I didn’t sleep overnight during my first stay in the night. So, I kept hearing the voices of the Almajiris. As a matter of fact, they even call one of them Professor, just for his reading ability.
- Moral Values: Expect trained otherwise, Almajiris are one of the most moral people I know. Their irritation for immoral acts amaze me. My friend told me he has tested them several times with his properties. “They don’t steal” he told me. Honestly, we left the room several times without locking it and our properties were still intact. Normally, I wouldn’t leave my laptop, phones and tablet in an open room. The Almajiri compound is the only place I could have done that.
- Respect: Almajiris have great respect for their facilitators. Just take that statement as it is. For the past two days, I have seen young people who regard the authority over them.
- Friendly: I have been made to understand that they are very friendly people. I have witnessed this myself.
The major thing I noticed about them is language barrier and the fact that they do not have access to Western education. Other challenges may be poor clothing, poor feeding and practically no access to social infrastructures.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Friend, you can do a lot. BEACONS Nigeria just kicked off their “Clothe the Almajiri project” last saturday. Click here to read more about it. The truth is that you have clothes you do not use at home. Why not think about donating it to them. You may not be able to visit an Almajiri center to make personal contributions, but I believe you can support organizations that are dedicated to their cause.
WHY YOU NEED TO ACT
I know the question you might be asking is “but why Almajiris?” One reason is the fact that they really need the help of the society at large.
Another reason is the thought that the Almajiris have been a crucial tool in the hands of a cabal. These people feed, clothe them and provide virtually everything they need. So, these Almajiris respect them to the extent that they are willing to do anything in return. So, they act on the order given to them by the people who care for them.
Despite how good they, they can be as well be a tool to politicial violence. Our intention is to transform them, if possible. BUT, Trust me, it won’t be possible without providing the basic amenities they need. If you want to preach to a hungry sinner, at least give him food first.
If you refuse to act, some cabal will keep providing them with these needs and they’ll keep using using them as a tool to social unrest.
I was also told that they Almajiris wouldn’t beg if they were been fed in their camp. I don’t know how true this is, though. However, it sounds logical to me that no one will want to beg if he has food on his table.
I suggest they’ll need to be camped for a minimum of 21 days. These camp will be to re-orientate them. I suggest 21 days because it has been scientifically proofed that anything you do consistently for 21 days will develop into a habit. After the camp, they should be given access to quality education.
I also suggest that parents should be advised at the grass root level to stop exposing their children to program such as this.
These people have done nothing wrong to be in that condition. It becomes worst to see that they are totally they have been neglected by the society.
Remember, it could have been you. Support the Almajiris.