The untold hardship: A Trip to Okana community, in Abua.


How do you feel waking up to hear the sound of roaring thunderstorms? I guess it comes with mixed feelings, right? Morning rains can be brief yet intense and every volunteer prays for clear weather because this helps to motivate them.

One after another the volunteers appeared at our meetup location with visible little rain droplets all over. However, everyone was in high spirit and I could tell by the warm exchange of pleasantries and smiling faces. A few minutes later, the team said a brief prayer and we all got into our coaster bus. I was very curious, I kept asking myself “what does Abua look like”?  Well, I’m about to find out, would you mind coming with me?

Pix by: Samuel GodwinAbua–Odual is a Local Government Area in Rivers State, Nigeria. Its headquarters is located in Ayama, central Abua. According to the 2006 census, it boasts a population of 282,988 people and it is about 11 miles from Port Harcourt city. As we travelled,  the skies got clearer as the clouds disappeared. Abua is a beautiful place to behold, with trees along its highways and few houses spotted along the way as our convoy journeyed.  Finally, from my seat I could see “Welcome to Abua”, the heavens answered our prayers and the rain paved the way for volunteers to work.

The people of Okana community began to troop out in their numbers after sighting our food truck. The indigenous people of Abua are mostly farmers, fishermen and hunters and they are very accommodating as well. Most of the elderly women were smiling and whispering to each other while the volunteers set the stage for distribution of the palliative. 

After a while, we were done with the verification and sharing commenced. But something caught my attention, the sight of underaged street hawkers crossing the busy roads especially children wasn’t a pleasant sight to behold. Most of these kids are less than 10 years old. As I paused for a moment, I asked myself; are these truly the leaders of tomorrow?

I saw a little child who came with her mum to get their palliative and I could see her gaze so deeply at the volunteers, for once I wish I could read minds. Even when I asked her to give the peace sign, she didn’t smile at me but gave me a passionate look that triggered my emotions. I couldn’t help but ponder about what was going through the little girl’s mind. If this speaks to your heart, you can donate in order to reduce the hardship and help the children in Abua have a better life. These kids deserve better because they are the leaders of tomorrow. I feel sad seeing tender kids hawking just so to make ends meet.

Over 85% of the youths in Abua are unemployed, but for now, our target is mostly the elderly and disabled people. I remember seeing a blind woman, and a man on a wheelchair that was pushed around by a volunteer. He was so comfortable with her moving him about and this clearly shows our commitment to ensure the vulnerable(s) feel the depth of our passion and love for them.

Reaching out to people is beyond just giving out foodstuff. Sometimes, your touch, your smile, and the hugs can go a long way to show our empathy as a team. “I know we are scared of touching or holding people due to the COVID-19 pandemic but I didn’t know where the craving to hold some of the people came from. I saw myself holding them, I felt the urge to touch them so I can relate and know how they feel” said one of the volunteers. This desire was obviously driven by compassion.

In summary, the outreach was a successful and smooth one. We had no issues with controlling the crowd even though we had some people who feel entitled as usual. 285 families benefited from this outreach, and 500+ individuals were impacted. Although there are still more vulnerable people who need to be reached.

Most people are gradually picking up what is left as a result of the untold suffering the lockdown has inflicted on them. But have you thought of what happens to those people who are struggling to get back on their feet? They surely need our help and together we can put smiles on more faces. The R.E.A.C.H is here to bridge the gap and support the vulnerable in times like this.

However, we need your support to continue these good deeds. And if you do not know where to start, you can easily reach out to us. May God bless you as you do. Please always remember to wash your hands regularly and stay safe!

Photo credits: Samuel Godwin | Amarachi Ojimma