Archive for the ‘DAY 2 DAY’ Category

How you doing people? To my Nigerian readers, what did you get up to for the holidays?

I went to Lagos, spent some quality time with my best friend Wunmi, and her son (my godson, duh). Nothing like family!

Dodging the sun vs. basking in the awesome lighting! This is such a great and awful photo at the same time, lol.

I must also confess that my diet was abandoned (which is what good people do during holidays, lol) so I’m typing this from the treadmill, trying to redeem myself.

It was also a good opportunity for me to focus on myself, and the exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately. I’m grateful for the massages, the sleep, the absolute rest I was able to achieve. So thankful.

A bit about my best friend before I move on… She’s an amazing, real chic. Like, I know I’m going to contend with her swollen head later but she’s one of the strongest women I know, an amazing worker, even more supportive wife and mom, and I’m just thankful for her today. Get yourself a bestie like mine!

Okay, Wunmi worship done, here’s the reason I decided to write this. So, it’s still raining in Abuja for reasons I cannot fathom. It rained from 4pm yesterday till about 11pm when I fell asleep. Why? Sigh. Plus it was thundering like God was scolding us (anyone understand thunder-speak?) and totally defeated the ‘weather for two’ purpose of the rain. Just as well since Bobo is far away at the moment.

Anyway, so I was trying to get home when the rain subsided a little bit and there was traffic. Not the Lagos type of traffic that can last an entire pregnancy term but it was bumper to bumper on what should have been an express lane.

I trudged through it, and then around my area, I ran into some traffic as well. A little pissed off at the time I’d already spent navigating traffic, I decided to leave the inner (speed) lane I was on, and get ahead using the outer lane. Was quick for all of five minutes and then I realised I hadn’t factored in that I would have to contend with the ‘keke napep’ riders who use that lane.

I struggled in that lane a little bit, trying to avoid the keke riders who do not see the need to indicate but feel the need to stop abruptly wherever they please, or even the ones who tried to scrape my car in the name of driving rough getting ahead.

When I narrowly missed one of them rear-ending me, I asked myself why I was raising my blood pressure on a lane that ended up not giving me the speed I’d hoped for, and then quietly moved back to where I was earlier.

I thought about it before I slept last night and tried to relate it to everyday living and humans switching lanes thinking someone else has it better than we do. In truth, sometimes they do but we don’t know what else they have to deal with that we don’t. So before we jump into something we’re not ready for in the name of the grass being greener on the other side, maybe think through it a bit more carefully?

PS: I will blog more. It’s a super distraction while I’m jogging on the treadmill. Been using this app called Couch to 10k, I’m in the 7th week, and I did 2.5miles today (25 minutes non stop). Talk about progress, when I started I was barely doing 5 minutes without gasping like I was being strangled. Can’t wait to do a full 5k! Yeah, I’ve never done that before.

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It’s raining – the thunder woke me up, and I’ve been unable to go back to sleep. My niece is beside me, snuggling a little closer every few minutes, so much that if it isn’t morning soon she might edge me off the bed, or put her fingers into my eyes. Lol. Bless her.

What’s going on with/around you? I’m in Abuja, Nigeria and a few things are – there were floods in Makurdi, Benue State about a week ago, displacing between 80, 000 to 130, 000 people. Kudos to my friends Andy Madaki and Alu Azege, and everyone else who has worked tirelessly since then, collating and disbursing donations, providing temporary shelters and emergency care for the people. The Vice President finally visited the state (yesterday) the 6th of September, approximately 10 days after the incident.

 

In other news, Friday and Monday were public holidays to commemorate the Big Sallah. Tuesday would normally have been Federal Executive Council meeting but the Ministry of Information released a statement saying the holidays didn’t allow them time to prepare for the meeting. I don’t get it. From Boko Haram to universities and now resident doctors going on strike, internally displaced people in Makurdi adding to the IDPs we’ve had in the north for a few years (and the outbreak of cholera there), where is the urgency? I’m so confused and hurt. Nigerians are certainly not the priority for this government.

What else? Nigeria’s officially out of a recession. Difficult to celebrate that because one pronouncement doesn’t undo the suffering of the last 18 months. Plus, analysts say we ‘wasted’ the recession, have no clear plans for stabilizing or even increasing this growth, so we might slide back in again. Dreary thought. Ugh.

I saw a discussion on Twitter an hour ago, some admonition for women going to restaurants with guys and ordering the cheapest thing or at least what the guy ordered. Beyond rolling my eyes and wondering if women will ever graduate from the school called ‘How Do We Please Men Today’, I have no other comments.  It’s almost Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Looks like this year Christmas will be different; I can’t say how yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

What else? It’s almost Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Looks like this year Christmas will be different; I can’t say how yet, but I’m looking forward to it. God keep us.

Finally, I miss my aunty. Yeah, same one who died in July 2013, 6.58pm on the 21st. So much to talk with her about. Sometimes I wonder how much different my life would be if she were still alive. I don’t know.

What’s going on around you?

By the way, it’s still raining. Ugh.

PS: Sending love and light to the various locations around the world reeling from excessive rainfall and flooding, mudslides and hurricanes. My heart is with you.

PPS: Thoughts and prayers for the Rohingya in Myanmar. May we not see our heroes turn into oppressors. Aung San Suu Kyi I’m looking at you.

PPPS: The uptake of African rulers shutting down the Internet to drown opposing views/punish their people is scary. 50% increase so far from 2015. Togo’s just shut down their internet. Crazy times.

No I’m not writing about the (in)famous “follow me” sometimes perpetuated on social media. I personally will consider requests on a case by case basis but I know quite a few people who don’t brook it at all. Thankfully, on Twitter, you can leave your DMs open for private messages so that’s not an excuse for the request anymore.

But that’s not what this is about.  So I was in a bit of hurry a few days ago, don’t remember where I was headed but I remember I was in a hurry. And then at some point where it was a single-lane road, we were all held up. I waited for a little while, then I left the growing queue only to find out that the person in front of the line was waiting behind a parked car.

Sigh. I had spent a few minutes I didn’t have in a queue behind a parked car? Sigh.

Made me wonder about the many times we expect to make progress but we’re headed in the wrong direction or even stagnant.

I’ve written about this before – one time when I’d spent the night at a friend’s and I was really hot, even after I took after everything I was wearing. Turns out I’d been working the radiator wrong, and therefore not getting any results for all the effort I was putting in.

So think about it. Are you not hitting your targets because the targets are wrong or your process is wrong, or you’re headed in the opposite direction of that target?

The exigencies of today mean that we must be on point as far as direction and focus is concerned. So we cannot afford to be headed in the wrong direction, not even for a wee minute. I read somewhere that it is better to run back than to run the wrong way. As in it’s never too late to retrace your steps and take another stab at achieving whatever you were trying to that hasn’t yet worked out.

Dr Seuss said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

I wish you all the best with that!

So my friend Bella put up a Facebook post recently, and it spoke to me in a very distinct way.

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My comment? “Ha ha ha… I love it! Plus I love “rehearsing my rights in my head”… sometimes God has stuff in store for us but we resist the change, holding on to what we think we have…” Somehow the thought didn’t leave me so I thought I’d write about it (and I have Bella’s permission to share).

Picture this: we’re holding on to something we think is precious, maybe something we achieved by ourselves, or might even be something He put in our hands.

And then God says, I want to give you something better, want to upgrade you, and we refuse. We go up in arms because we’ve gotten comfortable wherever we are or with whatever we have that we refuse to let Him have His sweet way in our lives.

Interesting how a lot of us can relate to this, and how much God rolls His eyes at us sometimes. We know He doesn’t do any less thing, we know He gives only good and perfect gifts, we know we are the Apple of His eye and He is aware of every hair that falls from our heads, yet we don’t trust Him enough to give us better than we have? Sigh.

Was a learning moment for me, more like a reminder that sometimes it’s okay to let go. Let go of good so we have room for better, let go of better to receive God’s best. It’s for our own good.

Have a good one!

PS: This photo is so super! I have to find a rooftop to get a photo like this, and soon!

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Early in October 2016 I spent the day with my day one girl, Francesca. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with someone who not only gets it, she gets me completely. She’s gorgeous in and out, and is one of the realest people I know. But this post is not about her, it was about a ‘meeting’ we went to.

We went as a group to see Fela Durotoye and it was one of the best evenings out I’ve had in a long time! Anyone who knows or has interacted closely with Fela Durotoye knows that he’s such a profound and prolific speaker. And when you add that to the fact that he’s a Christian and has the wisdom of God flowing through him, any/every interaction is one that’s sure to be a blessing.

And so it was, that we spent the evening with his beautiful family. One of the first things I said to myself after spending a few minutes was I would work very hard to raise children that would bring God, us, and their societies joy. Pure joy.

When we eventually got to chatting with Mr Durotoye, I started taking notes, and I’ve reproduced them as is, simply because I stumbled on them recently and I was so blessed all over again I wanted to share. Most of the talk was centred around relationships, marriage (in the 21st century), and pleasing God.

Ready?

  • Love (in addition to the many definitions that exist) – genuine desire and pursuit of the best well-being for another person. How do you measure love? Sacrifice
  • Honour – Recognition of the glory of God in another (to the maximum). How do you measure honour? Adoration

The onus of admiration doesn’t lie on the woman but in the man… he must be admirable.

You can decide to love a person, even in spite of themselves. But you cannot honour them in spite of themselves.

How do we build a generation of admirable men? How do we prepare men that women will honour?

Proverbs 12: 4 – A prudent wife is the crown of her husband. It is the man who bejewels his crown.

There are stats to show that the economic, social, and psychological values of a nation are tied to the family unit.

And then we moved away from family, love, and relationships into nation-building.

Any generation must leave three things for the next’

  1. Values
  2. Environment (that allows the values to thrive)
  3. A good name  (that opens doors of opportunity for the values to thrive)

If we’re going to build Nigeria into a desirable place to be and live in, we must fix the next generation of marriages.

The following are very key to passing on our values to the next generation

A. Transcend bias (religious, cultural, etc)

B. Show personal benefit

C. Be communicable (Messaging must be consistent)

D. Demonstrable

How could the devil who was described as perfect have pride in him? He discovered he was perfect, and his focus became in himself. That’s when he decided to ascend to the place where God was. It became about ‘self’, about ‘me’.

The mentality of ‘other centric’ – leadership… ‘self-centric’ – rulership

If you don’t frame and know your values, ou will acquire values as you go, and they could be positive or negative.

Every generation will have to explain why they ‘didn’t’ or ‘how they ‘did’ – which of them will we be?

Finally, Mr Fela talked about the tripartite, triangular relationship between vision/values, a road map, and people/projects, and how a mastery of all three will ensure you never have unfinished projects.

And then it was time to go home, because good things come to an end. Like this post. 🙂

 

 

 

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Just some quick thoughts about the New Year, what we want to do/be/achieve and how quite a number of us erroneously believe that wanting a thing (even bad enough) is all it takes for us to do/be/achieve that thing.

I found this quote yesterday in the course of fulfilling a committment to an organization and it literally jumped out at me. How do you want to see different if you don’t do different? My dad says it’s insanity to plant corn and pray to reap strawberries. Lol. But really. Think about it.

*Let’s not be like the Nigerian government who want to increase the quantity of rice in the country and decide the best place to plant the rice is on rocks. Without irrigation or watering of any kind, fertilizers, nothing. Yet the plan is to increase the quantity of rice for everyone. Sigh.

So do you need to change a habit, eat better (read as less, lol), sleep for longer (or less), get a hobby (or hubby – gosh I’m so silly); do you need to get closer to God, hit some milestones at work, be a better friend/partner/parent, make money so good you’re not swayed by any of the exchange rates in Nigeria at the moment? Nice!

So, what’s the plan? What are the concrete steps to getting there? In a conversation very early this year I figured I have close to no knowledge of project management and it is something that can smoothen the processes for a number of things I am involved with. So, off I went to register for a course, classes start in a bit.

There are a couple other things I need to work on, sort out, and be better at, and we’re on the road to that. Amen to God’s help and strength, and grace to stay the course.

So, away from me, what are you doing? Better yet, what are you doing different?

Happy New Year.

2016 has been an interesting year for me like I can imagine it’s been for a lot of people. For starters, my niece was born in February so I’ve got two shining lights in my life now. My family is great, work could be better but it’s good too, and pieces of my life have fallen in and out of place at different times.  The vagaries of life, isn’t that what some would call it?

In the past few days, I’ve been reading a book by Jon Ronson, “So you’ve been publicly shamed” talking about the democratisation of public shaming ab how people online and offline have developed a voice, one empowered to dispense justice as occasion serves.

From Max Mosley to Justine Sacco, Ronson chronicles stories of public shaming, the manifestation of deindividuation and how shaming is becoming a form of social control. Deindividuation refers to people partaking of things in a group they probably wouldn’t pioneer if, they had to individually. A more relatable, somewhat simpler term would be ‘The Mob’.

The book was personal for me in several ways, explaining a few concepts I want to work on in the New Year. I thought about the relief that confessions bring, and even though I’ve never said “Father forgive me for I have sinned” in a booth, I have felt (and I imagine it’s the same for a lot of people) the relief that comes from opening to God, a friend, partner, colleague, or parent. The “I don’t have to carry this alone” feeling, the belly-deep peace, the flat feeling equivalent of ‘he who is down fears no fall’, ground zero. At that point, emptiness is welcome. Feeling spent is almost a positive.

Shaming as it applies to men and women is also something this book explores in detail, how sexual issues (impropriety, idiosyncrasies, and mannerisms) are more likely to taint and damage women than men. ‘Slut-shaming’ as the offence and the punishment, an interesting concept, is also discussed. For instance, a woman is involved in a sex-scandal with a man, and the commentary naturally weighs more on her end, as snarky as it is hurtful and unforgiving. The man is mentioned, but it is the woman whose story is told with relish, her person and career hacked into. Women rarely ‘come back’ from the scandal.

As the punishment – a woman is in the spotlight for something the mob sees as wrong, whether it be financial impropriety or the misspeaks that are all too common online these days. The responses most of the time will bear on her sexuality, prescribing some sort of sexual punishment that deviates almost completely from the crime. Blame patriarchy, blame globalised expressions of ancient practices, blame anything you want.

How do people recover from a shaming? The truth is some people never do. Some others take years to rid themselves of the stigma, and even then, never completely succeed; it resurfaces every time they do, a permanent reminder of a wrong decision taken. Some others ignore it, and in doing so ‘take the power’ away from their traducers. There is a Yoruba saying that goes, “You cannot remove a man’s cap in his absence”. Not that a person cannot be shamed in their absence, but they must mentally enter that ‘dock’ for it to have any effect.

It might explain the ‘lack of shame’ that we say is ostensive in Nigerian/African/fix in your country’s leaders; the mental absence from the ‘gibbet’ where the shaming should occur. Think African leaders who have buried their umbilical cords in their offices and refuse to step down or hand over. But, I digress.

There is also ‘disrespecting the narrative’ created by the shaming which was influenced by the narrative of the action by creating a third narrative. Stay with me. Let’s say Ada does something ‘bad’ – narrative one. The public shames her – narrative two. She can decide to curl up and hide, or completely ignore the shaming, or she can flip the situation and create narrative three, make it anything she wants. That narrative disrespects one and two and is where my interest lies.

There are variations to shame, and the trauma caused by shaming. Various things trigger this trauma, and it differs from person to person. Same way grief, its manifestations and triggers are personal and differ from person to person.

Perhaps this is a good place to stop and express the rest of my thoughts when I finish reading the book and reflecting. Perhaps a nice concluding statement would be to take an extra minute before losing ourselves in the mobs that play judge and jury online/offline. Even when we think we have all the facts. Even when we convince ourselves that the person is worthy of the vitriol. Wait. Think.

Sometimes we plan things and they don’t go as we plan – fact of life. Other times we don’t plan things, and they happen – another fact of life. Any other variations to this statement? Don’t think so. 

I’ve got five voices to grace the blog this month, and I’m most grateful to them for taking the time to chronicle their year for you, my glorious readers. Meanwhile, 2017 has to be better, I must write more! Gosh! I miss it!

We kick off the series with a personal friend of mine, Ehimen. He is dependable, a lover of God, and has the most gorgeous wife! God bless you for writing in Mr Wordsmith!

Appreciating the value of Today while it is today

Many men would rather wear a luxury timepiece on their wrists than wear their emotions on their sleeves, especially if those emotions are powerful enough to make them cry. Well, I’ve learned to do both and as someone jocularly noted recently, look well put together while at it. He was referring to the fact that I cried at my own wedding –an occasion for which I was suitably attired, complete with a finely-crafted wristwatch peeking out from under the sleeve of my tuxedo- but I somehow managed to avoid the pictures of me crying going viral, unlike another gentleman who also got married in 2016 and cried like a baby at his wedding.

Why did I cry at my wedding? It wasn’t only because of the profundity of starting to learn the awesome mystery that marriage is, nor was it only because my wife is the walking exemplar of the word “beautiful”. It wasn’t only because my entire lifetime flashed before me in an instant and I was grateful to GOD for the many times He saved me from death. It wasn’t only because I remembered my father who died when I was nine-and-a-half years old and left me in a world where I was told (a bit too early) to “be a man for your younger ones”. Those are small contributors to the whole truth. The whole truth is at that time, my body, soul and spirit sent commands to my eyes to produce tears and I didn’t know how to not yield. I am human.

Men who shy away from being emotional often miss the privilege of having Father Time and Mother Nature tell them what time it is better than any man-made time-telling device ever can. I received a sobering reminder of this truth just a few days before I composed this. The routine of everyday life had stealthily crept into my marriage. You see, “the two shall become one” promise of marriage doesn’t happen instantaneously and can take gruelling work. My wife and I were just sheathing our swords from killing a giant marauder so the lovey-dovey “I love you’s” weren’t being exchanged with the gusto we started off with. I hadn’t done anything major to honour her in public in a long time, which was counter to what I’d learned that good women deserve. I subscribe to this truth King Lemuel’s mother told him about virtuous women:

“Her husband brags about her and says, “There are many good women but you are the best!” Give her the reward she deserves. Praise her in public for what she has done.”

A few nights ago I tiptoed out of bed and went to post on Facebook in appreciation of my wife. If I pulled it off right, it would almost be the equivalent of sending her flowers at work. By the time she saw my post, it was past noon and I wasn’t even at home. However, her appreciation of my romantic effort was muted as we found out that morning that someone very close to us had just died. While my wife was in tears and my mouth was agape in shock, I realized that at the very same time that I was putting up a picture and celebrating my wife on Facebook, we lost someone dear who we’d been procrastinating calling to appreciate. In fact, as I was rifling through the pictures on my computer to pick the one I eventually used to celebrate my wife, I saw some pictures of the now deceased and was contemplating sending them to her, not knowing she had just left this world. Every like and comment we got on that Facebook post was a jarring reminder to love each other and make the most of every moment as we’re not promised the next.

So to those who hide their love and appreciation of others while waiting for the perfect time, this is your wake-up call. Don’t just add this lesson to your “New Year Resolutions for 2017” list; start it now! One thing I’m deliberately doing right now is pouring out my heart into all that I do so that I can be the best version of myself while I have the time to do so. I’m working on a project aimed at reducing the impact of hate speech online and offline in Nigeria so that as a nation we don’t repeat the mistakes that led to the horrific genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994. That’s my way of showing love to people and helping them stay alive to love others.

A sad thing it is when the sun sets on our lives and those of our loved ones because we failed to seize the day while it was day.

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Thank you for writing in Peter, here’s to a fabulous holiday and an ever greater new year!

 

My heart is full. Very full. Everyday I am reminded of how blessed I am, how privileged I am to be who/where I am and the countless opportunities I have to do and be better.

Today I am particularly thankful for TechHer, and all the joints that supplied, keep supplying and future suppliers.

In the past one year of ‘babysitting’ TechHer, I’ve met so many women at different levels of proficiency with technology, listened to so many stories and started on a truly exciting journey that culminated in our first anniversary event on Friday the 30th of September.

I’ve also learned a lot of stuff, from managing people all the way to realizing when I’m crumbling under work and in need of help or support.

It’s been an interesting year, a truly interesting year. From coding classes taught by the good people at LearnCode and TechNigeria, web development classes led by Damilola Olawale, our super legal counsel Nana Nwachukwu, and the other actors who have ensured we have done pretty much everything we set out to do, my heart is so full!

Post the event on Friday, it is very important I thank everyone who helped make yesterday successful, all the people who worked tirelessly to ensure we had a great outing. First to my team, especially Andy Madaki, friend, brother, business partner. Thank you for being the voice of reason, thank you for the ideas, thank you for always showing up or sharing off your knowledge and experience at our event. We are so grateful!

To the wonderful people at Andela, thank you. Starting from Iyin Aboyeji who midwifed the idea and never more than a DM or text message away, to Chioma Uzo-Kalu who hopped on a plane to be with us after exchanging emails, despite her busy schedule! Thank you so much.

To the best spiritual family anyone could belong to, HolyHill Church and Pastor Sunday Ogidigbo.  Thank you, Sir, for taking TechHer as your own, for the unfettered access we have to technical equipment and the expertise of staff, thank you for listening, for encouraging us, for always being there for us. Thank you.

A very big thank you to our partners who have been in our corner from the first day we opened the doors to our community. Jackie Farris of the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Center, Tolu of PlayHouse Communication, HolyHill Church, iblend Services, Social Good Nigeria, and the Swedish Embassy. Thank you for believing, for taking a chance on us.

To the great people at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) led by Udo Jude Ilo, thank you for coming through for us and the lessons on budget reconciliation. Thank you!

Hello Intel West Africa and the She Will Connect Programme, you guys rock, absolutely! Thank you for standing by us!

In planning our anniversary event we were introduced to a member of partners to collaborate with and receive support from. And here’s a big thank you to Aniedi and Mercy at Google Africa and the entire Women TechMakers community for their love, trust, guidance, and support.

To British Council for access to and the use of your space, thank you, thank, thank. And a big thank you to Ojoma!

To Mr Ojobo, Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communication Commission, thank you for your support.

To the people who matter the most – our community of smart, exciting, hardworking women. Thank you for trusting us with your stories, your needs, your insecurities. Thank you for being patient with us, for learning and growing with us. We couldn’t exist without you.

As we go back to the drawing board and unveil our activities for the new year, I invite you to come with us. How can we help you be better? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp (@TechHerNG) or e-mail us -hello@techherng.com.

Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

I think I’ve written about vulnerable people and metrics for giving alms etc.; how I’m more disposed to women with babies and people with disabilities over people who look ‘okay’ at first glance. I’m also more likely to give food /edible items to younger children instead of money. Just my thinking and how I feel those things should happen.

What do you do when someone shows up at your office though? Yes, there’s a story here.

Two Fridays ago, about evening time I was trying to finish up an application, write an article and send a couple emails; talk about being super busy! My team had just come back from facilitating a step-down training in conjunction with Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA) and were putting away their things possibly to start heading home.

I was on the phone to Tata, when one of them came to say someone was waiting to see me. I recorded off the call and asked that she be ushered in.

Frail didn’t capture the woman wrapped from head to toe who entered my office and asked if she could sit. She did, and I asked how I could help. She said she came from Nasarawa State because hospitals were on strike and she couldn’t get her anti-retroviral medication. So she came to Abuja and after going to a few hospitals, got two months’ worth of medicines, and for free. She paused long enough to remind me that ARV are free from government hospitals once you have ‘your number’. I didn’t bother asking what the number was.

Anyway, bottom line was she had spent the money she had moving about and buying food and didn’t have any money to get home. She said she couldn’t beg on the streets and that God told her to walk and somehow she got to where our office is situated. How much was she looking for? N1500 only (less than 4 dollars).

I gave her the money, got my people to give her a pastry and drink from what was left over from their training and her smile is something I will remember for a while! Big, warm, and stretching from ear to hear. Then she prayed for us and left. Ah, she took my number too, said “so I can tell my daughter Chioma when I’ve reached home”. I haven’t heard from her since then, and I really hope she got home okay.

Now she could have just schemed me out of N1500, or she could really have been directed by God to seek help at our office. Either way it felt really good to be there for her and to not have had a plan or standard for that kind of request. May God wanted to disrupt this process of mine.

I dunno. And I think sometimes it’s okay not to.