I am delighted to share this beautifully composed written account from Vweta Ariemugbovbe, a PRAWA I-MAP Peer Educator who participated in the end of the year program at Lekki Conservation Center which I led and organized. Her words speak to the depth of her experience, and the distinct messages she took away from being in the natural space of the expansive green preserve within the confines of the urban metropolis of Lagos. Please read and enjoy…
What a Day Out in the ‘Wild’ Taught Me
by Vweta Ariemugbovbe
As a social worker who volunteers for life changing projects whenever the opportunities present themselves, I have always had a flair for outdoor activities; whether it is helping a child with homework whilst sitting under a tree or assisting a less fortunate person with some tasks at the backyard, or even holding the hands of a senior citizen while looking at the river as they pour their hearts out to me. It has always given me a sense of freedom to express myself and some of my clients have shared the same sentiments.
I practically had jitters when Ms. Erica suggested we have our last AVP meeting for the year 2012 at the Lekki Conservation Centre.
Seeing animals and plants and birds in their varied species made me appreciate nature and the gift she bestowed on us even more. Below are some of the lessons I learned:
- I observed un-obstructive movements of plants, insects and animals no matter how infinitesimal they appeared.
- It became clearer to me that nature never intended for us to be barred and ‘locked-up’, we are suppose to explore, seek and try out new things, bask in our freedoms, discover and commune with all around us.
- Being in our natural habitat helps us function optimally. We are able to express ourselves and live freely because we are in our comfort zone.
- We were not allowed to feed the animals, so I observed them fending for themselves and theirs. I could draw a parallel between my observation and what is evident around me in the real world. Being in our natural habitat also helps us develop certain skills; independence, interdepence, eagerness to take responsibility and the importance of community and togetherness as against being a hands down or being at the mercy of others and the ‘every one for him/herself syndrome.’
- Most importantly, I saw how grave the effects of climate change are. The air was cleaner, lighter and richer as against the ‘Lagos’ I am familiar with.
I believe it is time we started taking seriously words like: “climate change, desertification, extinction of plants and animals, indiscriminate dumping of refuse,” and apply them in the overall healing of our atmosphere. We should not only build houses and industries and roads, we should plan to ‘carry nature’ along too. When we do these things, the quality of life we enjoy will not only improve, our planet will be healthier for it!
You can find further writing from Vweta at her blog, “Social Work 4 Action.”
Justified Nature, a new radio program generating a public conversation on criminal justice and the environment is now airing every Tuesday on UNILAG FM 103.1 from 2:30 – 3:00pm.
Join the 30 minute segment for a show bridging the two distinct fields of criminal justice and nature in an effort to look at the possibilities for justice reform that involve the natural environment. Each show includes a Guest interview and thematic music from around the world and across various genres.
Guests from the first two episodes have included Vweta Ariemugbovbe, Peer Educator with PRAWA I-MAP, and DPO Monday Agbonika of Central Police Station, Adeniji Adele Road, Lagos Island.
Stay tuned this week for Adetayo Okunoloa, Program Manager at the Nigeria Conservation Foundation, and music from Peter Tosh, Buju Banton, Dr Sley and Climbing Poetree.
In December 2012 I joined DPO Monday Agbonika of Central Police Station, Adeniji Adele Road, Lagos Island on a walk through the community to tour his community oriented policing officers at their various station points. It was a meaningful experience to see un-armed police officers operating in the community with an amicable and peaceful presence. The community members I interviewed found their presence to be worthwhile, useful and a source of a recent calm in violence and tensions particularly with young men or area boys.
Officers use personal notebooks to record situations, conflicts and events throughout their posting from 7am to 2pm, and any news they receive in the morning when they assume their positions. The DPO directly reads each account and signs off on it. Community members highlighted they do not feel the officers operate corruptively, and the DPO dictated to me that transparency is a major aim of the program.
While I was visiting one of the officer’s stationed sites a local carnival even came through and carried on their dancing and drumming right next to the officers.
The tour concluded with an interview I conducted with the Secretary of the local Palace of Oshodie Court. He commended the efforts of the Police Station and their positive influence in the community – cutting down violence, holding trainings and creating productive relationships.
DPO Abgonika’s approach is innovative and unique in Lagos. It engages a methodology that the police can work cooperatively with community members in the physically shared space, as well as in the space for a shared vision of community betterment. It is a model to be recognized and utilized by other stations throughout Lagos.
Those in Lagos, please join us at a free Youth Concert being organized by the PRAWA I-MAP Peer Educators. January 26th, 10am-2pm at the Water Parks, Toyin Street, Ikeja. Plus a Talent Search Competition from 10am-1pm! The aim of the program is to showcase successful Nigerian artists who have stayed in their home country to develop and share their talent.
See you there!
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Apologies for the delay in posting as I have been traveling for the last three weeks, but I am back in Lagos now and excited to be back online and continuing to update Justified Outdoors.
2012 was a very successful year – the launch of this website, new connections and ideas in Lagos, Nigeria, and the planning for new wonderful projects for 2013. Already the year has started off with a bang – including the launch of the Justified Nature radio program on UNILAG FM 103.1 (every Tuesday at 2:30pm), facilitation of an AVP (Alternatives to Violence) workshop in Kaduna for emergency relief workers, and final preparations for the launch of the UNITE Youth Program in Ojota, Ajegunle and Lagos Island.
Please stay tuned for posts documenting events, interviews and workshops from the end of last year as well as up-to-date related material circulating now….much more to come!
Thank you for your readership and I invite you to continue to follow the journey of Justified Outdoors in this new year!