Dance In The Name of Love

For us at Fair Life Africa Foundation, every day is a day for love.  The whole essence of our work with the less fortunate kids is centered on love.  However, as the month of February is typically known as the month of love, we were not left out of celebrating, especially for and with the kids.

In the spirit of the season, we held a surprise dance flash mob and fundraising event on Valentine’s Day, the 14th of February, with the support of Silverbird Galleria, who were so kind to allow us use their venue once again.

Unsuspecting crowd at Silverbird Galleria
Unsuspecting crowd at Silverbird Galleria

The day started with our setting up for the surprise of the day, donned in our beautiful FLA T-shirts and surrounded by our awesome friends.  7 PM was the time set for the show, but our Deejay kept the venue alive with good music all day, while everyone that walked in wondered what was happening.

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It was at 8 PM that professional dancers took over the stage for a lovely Salsa dance fit for the celebration of love.  The beautiful dance captivated and serenaded the lovers walking into the Galleria,  it was such a nice sight to behold on Valentine’s Day.  After the salsa dance, Buddy and his friends stepped on to the dance floor for the group dance , which was all together beautiful.

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The generous crowd filled our donation box with cash donations while our staff handed them our flyers.  We are really grateful to Silverbird and Buddy and his dance friends who came through for us and made the flash mob a huge success.  We also appreciate our friends who came out in support of our event, particularly Simran Keswani, who captured the dance on video.   It was a marvelous day!

Ufuoma takes a group selfie with her friends...
Ufuoma takes a group selfie with her friends…
A job well done to the #FLATeam
A job well done to the #FLATeam

A Mistake Or A Learning Opportunity?

(Written by Ladun Ogunbanjo)

I think it would be adequate to say that we, as curious individuals, have all gone through that stage in our lives where we question or regret the choices we have made.  Often, we label it as ‘a mistake’, but maybe it is more than that.  Of course everyone has gone through it, most especially youths and teenagers; a category of the population that we, at Fair Life Africa Foundation, are very familiar with.  Also as a person who is part of this category, I know for a fact that we are very prone to regretting our choices and making mistakes.

For instance, let’s say it’s something as extreme as your friends being hardcore drug users and they’re asking you to chill and come try it out, justifying it as a “no big deal kind of thing”.  Or perhaps, it’s something as delicate as your friends already having sexual relations, and just because you’re not, they’re accusing you of being a prude.  It may feel as though you’re wedged in a position of conflict, and you can’t decide which path to choose.  Regrettably, we don’t always make the right decision.

Instead of acting in haste, or allowing yourself to be pressured, think through your decisions, because they matter!  Being persuaded by your friends to become a drug user could bring a permanent and negative change to your life, such as becoming an addict or dying from an overdose.  There are also many bad consequences of being pressured into sex.  It could lead to emotional problems, responsibilities you aren’t ready for, or even something as dangerous (and often fatal) as STDs.

From my personal perspective, we all have two options to choose in life; “the left hand of God or right hand of the devil”.  The path or action you adopt will eventually be what defines you as an individual.  I believe if you are confident enough and your mind stands firm on your decisions, not even the most persuasive snake can pressure you into making a choice you don’t want to make.

No matter who you are or where you are from, you would make a choice that could change your life for better or worse.  When we do make mistakes, because no one is perfect, we often plague ourselves with guilt and regret, which are useless emotions.  Redemption comes from learning from your mistake, so that it becomes an experience that shapes your life for the better, and from which you can teach others.

If whatever choice you made yesterday is being regretted today and is labelled as a mistake, then you must learn from it.  I know many people constantly preach this, but actually learning from your mistakes helps you grow significantly as an individual and helps you change your perspective in life.   So, my advice to my fellow youths and teens is that you should turn every mistake or potential mistake into a learning opportunity!

When They’re Ready

In my few years of working with street children, I’ve observed a certain phenomenon that I’d also observed in the many years I sought for a lasting relationship with a man. It will happen when they are ready, and not by your pushing.

It’s a weird comparison, but thinking about the boys who we have helped, and those who have stuck it out at home, the common characteristic is ‘maturity’. I always assumed that the younger ones would jump at the opportunities available to them, or would be easier to rehabilitate and mould. However, I’ve found that they are more restless, and eager to experiment with their own independence, even if it means more months or years on the streets. It’s almost as though they feel they are being deprived of a monumental experience.

Yes, they will receive your offer of help, and be sheltered and cared for by you. They will do the things you ask them to do, as long as they can see immediate benefits. When you talk of their future, they nod along, but it doesn’t resonate with them. They don’t believe you when you say that there’s no future in the streets. It was there you found them, and as far as they can see, that’s working out ok!

They say experience is the best teacher, but I think for them it is the ‘preferred’ teacher. Though you might never forget the lessons learnt by experience, it takes a wise person to learn from mature wisdom passed on by those who know better, whether through personal experience or not.

I feel the older population of street kids are ready because, quite simply, they’ve had enough! They’ve been in one, two, three, maybe more centres, where people have reached out to them to nurture and counsel them. They’ve experienced all sorts on the streets, from drugs to sex, violence and sickness too, and they’ve finally made up their mind that they want more. How did they get to this point?

It was by exposure to the good and the bad, and an exercise of their will. If they hadn’t been exposed to the good, which is the care from charities working with street kids, they might not know that there’s an alternative. But if they were forced to reside in a place, the freedom of the streets would seem more alluring.

So what am I saying..? I’m saying it is ok to work with 24 kids who have been on the streets and only have six to show for your hard work. I’m saying that our work in their lives will never be fruitless because by mere exposure to the good we offer, we have changed their world and course. I’m saying that we shouldn’t be discouraged when another reconciled child leaves home again for the streets. We should remember how long it took many of us to settle down and choose the good from the bad. We should continue to show them the better way, and when they’re ready…they will be the wiser!

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