Semiye Michael is my name....
The unfriendly friend of the rural dwellers
I have lived in the city all my live. Even though my family is not the influential and rich families, I yet enjoy little luxury with friends and relatives born with silver spoon in their mouth. The sight of the high scrappers and beautiful street lights in the nights and tens of radio stations entertaining and feeding one with on the go news updates; city life I must confess remain a choice I can’t possibly resist.
I heard that our country is not yet among the best in the world, but somehow, things look a bit orderly and until I perhaps have the opportunity of travelling outside here, this place may remain the best place I have been. You need to see me sometimes in super stores and fast food centers. Wow! I so much cherish those outings. I had lived on the good lane of life without any other mixture of what it will mean living without those things I see every day.
How did I come in contact with new horrible way of life? It was going to be adventurous as I volunteered to serve in a 3 day rural campaign project organized by a church my friend attends. Things never remained the same with me thereafter.
We travelled few kilometers away from the city and we vanished into this thick forest. I began to ask if we were heading to a game reserve or something. The road networks were odd, rivers after rivers and valleys that are almost impossible to pass. We kept going and soon we started seeing people. These people looked different and terribly dirty. No electricity, no radio, no telephone network, no portable water, no schools and their daylight was a complete darkness of life. Why oh my God? Are these human beings? Who brought them here? What did they do? When will they be forgiven so that they can come back and join us in the city? No! They belong here and probably will remain here forever. That was the answer I got.
I didn’t enjoy my rural adventure. I felt guilty and pained. We have been so wicked and selfish. We have left these people here to suffer and die. We can’t even build a small clinic for them. Let’s come to think of this; who is suppose to be responsible for the provision of all the needed amenities to support these people’s life? Are these people living under the responsibility of the same government ruling us in the city? Are they prisoners serving their own punishment here in the forest? So many questions pops through my mind. I became lost in my mind. My thought failed me as I could not figure out why we should be that different even though they said we own the resources of the nation together. This is definitely not fair: my conclusion!
My friends are familiar with the life in these rural villages. They had visited during their last holiday and now, they started talking to me. They encouraged me to be alive in the activities we visited the villages to perform so that I could learn more things. We had gone to the village to educate them on basic healthcare management. We moved from one household to another. Then I began to see traces of horrible sicknesses. All the infections that have been banished in the city had all travelled to these villages to torment the innocent rural dwellers. I decided to devote all my attention on asking the villagers what they know about HIV/AIDS. Virtually all of them have heard about AIDS but knows nothing about it. They have unprotected sexual acts and engage in several other acts that can easily transmit the virus. No one is interested in taking the pain of visiting these silent section of the world to educate them. They are totally disconnected from every form of information.
The effort of the agencies working on AIDS prevention, the government and other community support projects honestly by my judgment have failed in their rural inclusiveness. I followed up my rural experience with some visits to few NGOs and mentioned to them few of the villages I came in contact with; sad enough, they don’t even know those places exist. I visited some broadcast stations, they couldn’t belief such villages still exists in this 21st century. I had to show them pictures and videos to proof my claims. Even at that, they wouldn’t try to visit these places. Reason is simple; access roads are near impossibility. Villages are far, in case of any emergency, there won’t be any means of linking the outside world. Complaints after complaints. So we all continued to live our luxury in our cities and doing all the curing, treatments, preventions and several campaigns within the city and neighboring towns to audiences with good education. While pushing all we banished in cities to travel to our rural communities and continue to be their nightmare.
AIDS has remained an unfriendly friend of the people living inTv the rural places in Nigeria and no one cares. We all make political noise and propaganda in the cities just to receive public and government commendations. Time to shift focus is now!