Saturday night after choir rehearsals I was a bit bored. I had sorted out my uniform for service the next day, stuffed myself with cherry tomatoes, didn’t want to start reading a novel because it would keep me up till I finished it, and for some reason I couldn’t write.
I went online, read a few articles off WordPress’ ‘freshly pressed’ and then went on Linda Ikeji’s blog to catch up on gist generally. Then I read Okeoghene’s story, and by the time I was done, the well of tears in my eyes had started a little course down my face.
That put paid to the boredom that night. I thought, ‘I’m a few years shy of 29 myself, how would I feel if I was this young man and the only thing on my mind day in day out was how to salvage what’s left of my limbs before it snuffs my life out?
I looked at the amount he needed for surgery, 5 million naira only. Pere! Immediately I thought of the probe going on at the National Assembly, the almighty N850, 000 meal, and I knew that either one person wrote it off with a cheque or all of us would gather our pennies together. Either way, 5million naira was doable.
I went on Twitter, and with a ‘warning because of the gory photos’, started asking people to first publicise, and then donate. This is where my first set of thank yous start. To @KathleenNdongmo, @4eyedmonk, @omojuwa, @MrBankole, @ykprojects who not only ran with the story but helped out in their own way, may all the help you will ever seek never be more than a message from you!
This was about 11pm, Nigerian time, and #saveoke featured in just about every tweet on my timeline. I needed the campaign to get bigger but I wasn’t sure how; of course I would blog about it but what else could we do?
@KathleenNdongmo (as if on cue) DM’ed me to get in touch with the CCHub guys. I hadn’t heard of them before that night but apparently they’d successfully spearheaded a campaign to fix the blown off roofs of the Yaba Barracks using a webpage. Sounded great, and is the second rung up the appreciation ladder. I rang Tubosun, one of the founders of CCHub past midnight (Nigerian time), and not only was he pleasant, he agreed to help! This was despite the fact that his company was in the middle of a pretty hectic event. A big thank you also goes to Stanley, a developer with the company who was detailed to our cause and was very patient with Oke and I in all the emails we had to exchange.
A big thank you to everyone who donated on Saturday night, you gave us the will to go on. Your own issues will receive speedy answers in Jesus name! Several times that night when people retweeted the calls for donations and added, ‘done’, tears would fill my eyes afresh. Regardless of the animals at the helm, Nigerians are a truly loving and caring people. You can take that to the bank!
I spoke to Oke that night as well, and he sounded so positive! If I remember correctly he chuckled at some point and I marvelled at his bravery, what with what he was facing.
On Sunday morning I did a blog post on his story, and on Monday a more descriptive one. By this time people in the diaspora were all over us, asking how they could pitch in. God bless you guys!
That same night I thought about making a video to connect us with Oke; not one of the silly ‘£/$3 a day will save 1 million children in Africa’ kind of videos, I just wanted him to tell his story. I got in touch with Onye Ubanatu (because only the best would do), and again, it was closer than further to midnight. After I pitched it to him, he agreed! He was billed to be out of Lagos the entire week but promised to get on it the day after he got back which in my opinion was good because it would provide new momentum for the campaign that week. Thank you Onye! Mwah!
I got a call yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. Ejiro Gegere (God bless you richly for your tenacity) called to say the Delta State Government got in touch and would cater to Oke. At the time she rang, they’d already gotten him admitted in a hospital on the Island for tests, and as you’re reading this he’s been to Immigration and is back with his passport! They have said they’ll cater to everything, and they’re well on their way to that.
While I am grateful to the state government, my heart goes out to you, you, and you. For your prayers, your time, and your resources. You’ll be pleased to note that by this morning, we’d raised well over 2million naira!! God bless you. Walai God bless you!
This is the beginning of many updates because as I said to Oke, “we won’t stop till you are sorted”.