Perhaps the most common request we get from our Nigerian friends is help for school fees. Unlike the US, in Nigeria, and I think throughout Africa, school fees are paid by the parents or guardians and can be a heavy burden.
Since I am the compound manager I am in charge of paying the guards, they also come to me for salary advances. Today our senior guard came to me with a request that typifies some of the problems for many people in Africa.
This guard had three boys, they are now all full grown and working, but living with their parents (each one has his own room at their parents house). The middle boy got married several years ago, had a baby girl and then divorced sometime later. Well the girl is now ready to go to school. However,is refusing to pay the school fees even though has a job. He only completed 4th grade, because he refused to go to school, and now he does not value education. He is now working in another state of Nigeria and has left the girl with his parents. The fees are 4700 Nigerian Naira (about $30) for the first term and then 2000 Naira for the second and third terms.
Well the grandparents and other families do value education and cannot bear to not send this girl to school. The girl also wants to school since her two cousins (also living with the grandparents) are going to school. The girl is asking granddad why he is not taking her to school since he is taking her two cousins to school. Therefore, the grandparents and their youngest son discussed this and decided that they would find the money and send this girl to school even if it meant that they have to give some meals, which it might! Therefore, the guard came to ask for a salary advance from me to pay the fees. I gave it to him. He is hoping that by the end of the month he can convince the father of this child to pay the fees. If he is not able then I will help pay for the school fees.\
These kind of stories tear at your heart, and while $30 is not much for us, but most people here are in a similar situation and we cannot help all of them. We need to hear from God to know how to best help.
I am writing this only to give you a glimpse into the lives of the people here and not to make you feel guilty or ask you to send money. The tragic thing about this story is that the father is able, but is not caring for his child. Another demonstration of the corruption of the human heart and for our need of God to change our hearts.
Despite the hardships that many Nigerians endure they are thankful people, grateful for what they have and do not complain. There is a lot we can learn from them.