by Emilomo Ohiwerei
Sometimes, the good we can do in our society are hidden until we simply attend a meeting, join a group and do something with other people. And then, eureka! We make a wonderful discovery and are motivated to do more. It happened to me recently through my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) experience and now, I have a flash story to tell.
It happened on a sunny Friday, the 24th of February 2012, to be precise. I had woken up with a feeling of enduring indolence and was entirely unmotivated to go for our weekly Community Development Service (CDS). I rolled on bed and stared at the curtain. As if attracted to my gaze or perhaps chased away by the growing breeze from the other side of the window, the curtain dilated its uneven folds and sent them towards me. I immediately saw the gentleness of the sun and realized that the day was not young anymore. This sparked up some momentum within me and somehow, I pulled myself out of the cosy bed unashamedly and began acting like someone going for CDS. After doing all that could be done, I set out for a trip to Eti Osa 1 local government. When the cab man finally pulled up in front of the building, I became a little confused because there was an unusual array of corps members (or corpers) outside the local government office. Though it was not happening for the first time, it hardly occurred in such fashion. There were corpers on both sides of the street and even in the middle of the road.
Being a natural worrier, my first reaction was to panic. The conundrum was probably spelt out on my face so much that anyone who had seen me would naively mistake me for an otondo or a freshly recruited corper. But as I watched the crowd closely, I noticed there was no fuss or any form of violence. Relieved of the budding fret, I paid the taxi man and walked up to fellow corps member to discover what was going on. Lo and behold, it turned out that my adventurous CDS group was painting the streets of Muri Okunola in Victoria Island Lagos, right in front of the Local Government Office (LGO). They were not just painting the streets, but really painting zebra crossings on two lanes! I was shocked. I mean, we sure did not sign up for an art programme during the NYSC orientation! I was a bit distraught and thoughts like, “I knew I shouldn’t have come this early”, “Why didn’t I sleep longer?” and “What does a drama CDS group have to do with painting streets?” sailed through my mind.
Yet, standing there and watching my colleagues get down to paint that street made me see our usefulness to the Eti Osa 1 community. We were demonstrating our concern for the lives of those who are susceptible to motor bike and vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, some of us could not paint because there were limited tools. The paint brushes and rollers could not go round and there were a lot of people. So, the rest of us resorted to gallantly cheering our working colleagues. Nonetheless, as I observed the painting exercise, I realized that though we were not all painting, majority of us were there talking, bonding, laughing and at other times, complaining about the hot sun. At that moment I understood the essence of the NYSC scheme. I realized that it was not an idea borne for the sole purpose of service to the nation, but to also further national unity by bringing people from different parts of the country together regardless of societal class. NYSC CDS is not just a means of bettering Nigeria. It is a channel of through which we better ourselves in learned humility and true service.
Emilomo Ohiwerei is an NYSC corps member at the Eti Osa 1 local government area in Victoria Island.