On my way back to the office this afternoon, I came across a heartbreaking scene. It was raining heavily and I was stuck in traffic. Suddenly, I looked up from my phone and saw a young woman with a huge load on her head. She was barefooted and was trying to cross a very busy road. She had a wee baby strapped on her back. He/she wasn't covered at all and was being beaten by the rain. I couldn't believe my eyes. What harm has that baby ever done to deserve such, I wondered? Why didn't anyone else appear surprised and why was no one helping? I could sense her frustration at not being allowed to cross and I feared she would risk her life and that of her baby by trying to beat the fast cars and dashing across the road.
I had a thick and huge scarf with me, just lying on my laps. I grabbed it, got out of the car and ran up to her. I asked her why she's left her baby exposed in such a weather. She said she didn't realize the baby was no longer covered. She had a very thin and very wet veil around her which she tried to use to cover the wee baby. I asked if she didn't mind using my scarf, she couldn't believe her eyes and immediately reached for it. I used my scarf to protect herself and her baby from the cold and rain. (It's one of the thickest scarves I own and was a gift but here was a woman and a child in genuine need of it.)
She said she was coming from Ikeja (a long way from where I found her at Maryland and I don't even know if she walked there) and that her slippers broke in the rain so she had to walk barefooted. I helped her stop the oncoming vehicles and got them across the road safely. I guided them to a shelter out of the rain and asked her to wait for me to turn the car around so I could give them some money and a lift to their destination.
Unfortunately, we got caught in traffic and by the time we got back to where I had left her, she was gone. I searched for her and even traced her to the area she said she wanted to take a bike to, but I couldn't find them. I felt so awful, like I shouldn't have left them but allowed my driver make the turn. :( Sadly, I didn't even get a good look at her face but I will look out for her in this area and do more for her.
Getting back to my office, I narrated the experience but the reactions I got were mixed with most tending towards, "why are you stressing na, there are many like her around", "how many like her can you help, if you go towards so-so area you will find several like her there", "go up North and see the state they live in there, the almajeris". I was gobsmacked and I ensured I impressed it on them that IT IS NOT NORMAL NOR ACCEPTABLE FOR THINGS LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN.
I don't care what the statistics are or if I may be mistaken for a person with ulterior motives. The right and best thing to do in such a situation is to reach out and offer help like I did, and render the help if accepted. If all of us did our little bits, then perhaps we would reduce the high number of people suffering in Nigeria. Just yesterday, I wrote this post about all of us being hands-on in making our country better, and this happens today. It is a validation (not that I need any) that I know what I'm talking about when I go on about being AllHeartsAlways. We must help as many as we can whenever we can. We cannot keep turning our faces away when we see people in distress because someday, we might be in need as well.