The Experience of a Wet Outreach – Idama

Mind your business everyone says and it has landed us into being a society that is less progressive, insensitive to problems, nonchalant about the effect of our actions towards others, it’s just about the “self” if I feel better then I do not care about others. 

Just take a quick look around you, just a little tilt towards your left or a few minutes gaze at your environment, don’t you think there is something desperately in need of your attention? It could be anything but don’t be silent, don’t be blinded, don’t feel unbothered, can you try wearing the shoes of people in that situation so you could get a feel of what they are going through? The point is, some volunteers didn’t mind their businesses yesterday and they are the real champions driving the change we want for our society.

Another Saturday morning, another outreach for The REACH, another opportunity for volunteers to show their true humanity. Today was totally different, with a new style, new tactics to actualize goals, new definition of our humanness. A day that adorned itself with amazing garments and nice perfumes that saturated the environment with great love and compassion. It was really a day that gave a new definition of determination. Prior to this day, I would worry so much about my country and people who are ready to make the impacts that we yearn for. I used to think my society only harbours one or two good people who are ready to push it forward but today I saw not one or two but a large number of selfless individuals who are so determined to make the society less difficult for the vulnerable and are really attentive to the pains and worries of others and this is really amazing that it shows hope for our nation and a future for the unborn generations. 

The determination of the volunteers was beyond what I have experienced in the past, people were eager to help, they were very excited as they worked, no complaints. They were only bothered about the vulnerable, maybe this great act of concern and the echoes that stricken their imaginations made them unaware of the heavy downpour because it rained all through. The volunteers I saw yesterday didn’t even see the rain coming, or noticed the downpour on them, no one noticed they were all drenched, all they saw was a community of people waiting for them to “show them love” in our own local palace. They were all dripping of rainwater yet portrayed warm energy, encouraging one another to help, the smiles and laughter as they threw palliatives from the food van down to the jetty and into the boats, an act that even inspired them into playing around as they turned it into the “don’t leave me” trend. Usually, people would say they are less productive under stress, today I think it’s about the mind, because how do I explain the creativity of the volunteers under that cold weather?  It was inconveniencing for them but yet they were so unbothered. The beautiful formation of both women and men, that showed they are one family because in togetherness under that unfavourable weather based on human explanation they were able to win the hearts of people in two different communities. 

Arranging the bags of food on various boats with one or two volunteers to escort those boats to the community. Moving into the boats even as it stormed, the volunteers wrapped around each other and mounted on different flying boats, with leaking trampolines, others didn’t even have the trampoline and water kept dripping into their boats but no one cared. The moving to different sides just so we balance the boats, the jokes about slimmer people not seating at the edge so they don’t get carried by the wind, and how one big person coming off from the boat made it look like they were going to sink, it was really funny they even laughed over the live vests as they wondered if it was still capable of floating because it was quite old. The volunteers were really fearless, to some it was their first experience on a flying boat and in that weather but the zeal was beyond the fears so love conquered the fear. There were hiccups on the way, sacks wrapped around the engines that caused some dwindling and fast turn, it was indeed an exciting experience with the waves, the boat going really high and coming back low again, those cracks on the way that made us dance to the melodious rhythm of the waves and the slaps on our faces from the rain. What about the volunteer who escorted one of the boats carrying palliatives, how his boat almost capsized, I could imagine his thoughts at that moment but thanks to the Almighty who controls everything even the mightiest waves.

Getting to Idama community in Rivers State and yet another struggle in the rain and cold wind, finding means of moving the palliatives to the distribution ground, volunteers carried bags on their heads, some used wheelbarrows, some used the truck, others used umbrellas, it was indeed an experience. Seeing beautiful and handsome men and women well dressed before leaving home but looking really unkempt after the outreach but it didn’t matter to them what really mattered was the fact that people were so happy they came. It felt like a different world altogether because I didn’t see the people of Idama crossing water on a regular to come get a view of the world in town, water actually did a massive demarcation and it felt like these set of people were forgotten especially those at the fishing port. It was a wonderful outreach with the Idama people as over 300 people received food packs, though they had little challenging moments due to the rain. They were meant to use an open field but the rain disrupted thanks to the young man who made available the hall of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, this made it much easier and at least they found a shield. Crowd control wasn’t very difficult and people observed social distance and facemasks were also distributed to the people. 

I won’t forget this amazing experience with dried fish. Volunteers ate dried fish with so much enthusiasm, what do you expect? They all left their houses so early without having breakfast. Sweet dried fish! Well, they were in the riverine part of Rivers State. They have still not said who introduced the dried fish chewing as they rounded up for the day’s outreach sharing and chewing fishes in love but that really lighted their moods and again they socialized and bonded as family.  The departure was somewhat funny because I laughed at the feeling of entitlement as some community boys tried to resort to violence just so they got what they wanted, but with the intervention of the military men volunteers sailed out peacefully. That disruption from the young boys who felt it was their right, made me realize how a lot of people feel entitled, they felt really entitled, thinking the organization was sent by the government, and even if, people shouldn’t always resort to violence, we know people are suffering, we know that life is unfair but let’s take a deep breath and look at the bright side of life, besides these are kind individuals who only came to help the vulnerable not fight with people who felt too big to follow protocols. 

From the Holy Trinity  Lutheran Church we moved out to a small place called the Innocent Fishing Port, a fishing settlement, it looked worst as the thatch houses there needs only the grace of God to send them warmth because they lived closed to the water yet with no proper roof over their heads, no electricity,  we could virtually count the number of people there; goosebumps were all over her body a volunteer said as she imagined the struggles of those people. I write to describe what the fishing port looks like, just so we understand the sufferings of some people. Seeing that particular community taught them a whole lot, it taught them to be grateful and it motivated them to keep scouting because they haven’t seen it all, many are indeed suffering. Though that place wasn’t scouted for, but the volunteers surprised them and they were really excited and grateful. Some volunteers also patronized them by buying fish from them while others received gifts of fish from the young man who secured the boats and the distribution venue for them. It was really a memorable yesterday and they could go on narrating every single detail. 

The final departure from the Innocent  Fishing Port, another 15 minutes journey on water. The raising up of their hands in solidarity when they crossed the military checkpoint in water, and as they got to a very close proximity the army men saw that they weren’t threats, it was really an awesome experience for the volunteers, a volunteer jokingly questioned why they didn’t follow the other route so they don’t get to raise their hands. 

Some days we go on screaming, God held the rain, favourable weather, serene cloud, this simply is a great display of our faith but on this day the continuous heavy downpour all through the outreach got me wondering if it is the same God who stopped the rain from storming on us the last time, but this was what I heard from the volunteers, “well, this is the showers from heaven, God is aware of everything and he is blessing us with the rain” you know what I saw, I saw people giving reasons and excuses to stick to one humanity, to be kind, to be compassionate, I gazed at their hearts as I looked at that water, because the rain, the river and all about yesterday only made crystal clear their goodwill for the vulnerable. Maybe it’s the showers of blessings for extending love to a people very far away from town. A big shout out to the wonderful volunteers, who were so excited about jumping into the boats, for the genuine happiness and for their distinction to be selfless in a society of really selfish people. Do good! Be kind! Be compassionate! Be intentional! Be the hand that stretches out towards the vulnerable! Be the reason a poor fellow smiles! Be someone who reaches out to the needy!