According to Unicef, Nigeria accounts for more than one in five out-of-school children anywhere in the world. Official figures by the Federal Ministry of Education put the number of out-of-school children in the country at a whopping 10.1 million as at Q1 2021. Now, this is a serious problem, one that the government doesn’t quite seem to be giving the much needed attention. But thanks to organisations like Slum2School, all hope is not lost.
Founded in 2012 by Orondaam Otto, Slum2School describes itself as a leading volunteer-driven organisation that is committed to empowering underserved Nigerian children with quality education. It will surprise you to know that Orondaam had to put aside a prospective medical career to focus on saving the children. Let’s tell you all about that, starting with the incidents that culminated in changing the course of his life forever.
How it all Began
In 2012, Orondaam Otto was a 25-year-old serving his fatherland in Lagos as part of the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC). Two years earlier, he had graduated from the University of Port Harcourt with a degree in Medical Sciences and Human Anatomy. To his parents and close friends, he was well on his way to having a fulfilling professional career. Even Orondaam thought so too himself, until one day when he stumbled on a BBC documentary on Makoko, a notorious slum that is conspicuously located on the Lagos Lagoon. He later recalled his reaction after watching the documentary.
“There was a documentary I watched on the BBC called ‘Welcome to Lagos’ and it depicted Nigeria in a negative way, which hurt me so much. I asked myself, ‘why would the BBC do a documentary showcasing Lagos and the only place that was appropriate for them to show was a slum in Makoko?’”
Visiting Makoko and Finding himself
Not long after he saw the documentary, he soon found himself facing the slum one day as he commuted along the Third Mainland Bridge. Now, for those who aren’t quite familiar with Lagos, the Third Mainland Bridge extends across the Lagos Lagoon, connecting Lagos Island with the Mainland. While on the bridge, one could look down into this Makoko slum. It stretches almost the full length of the bridge. And quite honestly, it is an eyesore; an unfortunate display of poverty. It is, therefore, not surprising why Orondaam was instantly enthralled by the place. And before long, he visited the place. Here, he described what he saw…
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