Hot sun, hunger and how not so well my last meeting had gone…….
These were top priority on my mind on the day I met Nene on one of the popular pedestrian bridges in Lagos. She tugged at my hands…. I didn’t respond. Then she got hold of a piece of my dress and that forced me to look at her, of course with the mean look I usually would give them every time I walked the bridge. I saw her shriek with fear and at that moment I felt so much guilt run through my spine, for some moment, it felt like bad, evil blood flowed through my veins. Then I bent over and for the first time, I saw someone like Nene in a different perspective. She was beautiful, she had awesome natural hair and even if it was covered with dust, some ladies in their #teamnatural craze would jump at it. I gave her some naira notes and walked away in utter shame.
When I got home that day, I felt like I could eat a generation of elephants and there I was loading my plate with steaming hot rice, plantain and some sumptuous number of meat……..fast forward 15minutes later, I’m on the chair, lost in some new episodes of mentalist and right before me is an unfinished plate of food (I mean, like what happened to my elephant fantasies?).
Somehow, Nene managed to crawl back to my memory but this time in my imagination and I didn’t give her the opportunity to be frightened because I realised she must have been going through too much I probably wouldn’t even understand, I took her and held her in a warm hug…Then I woke up and reminded myself not to be a hypocrite (like the biblical character who told his hungry neighbor to go and be filled). I jumped up, took the remnant meal, added some more and was on my way back to the bridge.
There she was munching on some portion of hard puff puff she had to share with friends with so much joy, I walked up to her, handed her the plate and by the time she saw me and the plate of food, I could see tears swelling up in her eyes as she looked at me with so much joy and said ‘thank you’. She rushed off with the package to her mother who couldn’t stop pouring out blessings, as she said to Nene
“Nene, Nene, sing for this aunty oo”
When she started to sing, I couldn’t hold myself back from spewing my emotions through tears, she had the sweetest voice I could think of, the voice of an angel. I sat with her as she ate, I wondered about how beauty wasn’t just physical and I said to her
“Nene, you will be a superstar, you will sing like Michael Jackson and you will make big money to buy a house for your mother”
When she looked away from the food at me, I saw too many things to count: beauty, joy, and most of all bursting hope in her eyes. I don’t think anyone had ever told her anything like that before, I don’t think anyone had told her how beautiful her voice was, I don’t think anyone had told her she could dream beyond the next little change she would be slipped, beyond the next meal she hoped for.
For many like Nene, the only thing they ever dream about is the next meal they aren’t sure of. It’s amazing how you can touch someone’s life with Food and inspire a dream especially with that last meal you dumped into the bin….. Yes, someone needs it. When you give food to someone like Nene, it’s not just food you’re giving them, you are feeding a dream.
It’s world food day on Friday the 16th of October, tell someone they can feed someone, tell someone not to take more than they can eat from the pot, tell someone they can distribute food before it goes spoilt to so many people out there…..or you just do it! Feed someone, don’t take more than you can eat, distribute that food before it goes bad!
Food4AllNigeria (www.facebook.com/food4allNigeria) is a platform that helps get food to individuals who need them and aren’t privileged to always have them, people like Nene and we believe that we can spark hopes and dreams in this people beyond food! Please join us this Friday as we feed Nigeria.
For support, donations, volunteering and other information, please reach Ope in Lagos (+234 802 929 1710) or Dara in Abuja (+234 803 415 9966)