Ending the Cycle, by Jason Munafo, Back2Back Nigeria Staff

Jason (left) and Emanuel (right)

The other day I was talking with Emanuel who is from the village and is helping us run the Oasis Community Center. He is twenty-three years old and is well-educated. I asked him what he feels is the one thing that would most help this community.

He replied, “Education”.

So, I asked him how he became educated. He told me it was not easy. His parents, who both are still living, divorced when he was very young. His father is an alcoholic who happens to be a doctor and his mom, as he says, is a very difficult person. His parents would not continue to pay for his education.  So at the age of fifteen he left home to live on his own. He started working at the local carwash and made enough money to build a small one-room house (shack), buy food, and pay for his schooling. He said every day was hard.

Emanuel still works at the carwash and says many of his friends who work there with him were in the same situation as he was. The only difference between Emanuel and the other boys is that Emanuel knew the importance of education. He said most of those boys can not read or write and that as a result, the carwash is a dead-end for them. The money they make does not go toward things that last. Alcoholism is a big problem in this community.  When young boys have an education, but lack education, they often end up heading down that path. Emanuel is sad because this is an endless cycle. If education is not a priority for one generation then it is not going to be for the generation to follow.

“We need to break this cycle,” he said.

I agreed.

Every Christmas Emanuel buys all the children in the community a small pad of paper and a pen.

“It’s not much,” he said, “But I want to do all I can to encourage the children to push for an education.”

In January, we are opening the Oasis Education Center to help the children by brining a tutoring program to the village. We will start off small by teaching the basics. But in the end, our hope is to make a life long investment in every child in this community to end this generational cycle.