By Prisca Sam-Duru
The presence of eminent environmental rights activist, Nnimmo Bassey at Makoko, a Lagos fishing community and Nigeria’s largest informal settlement recently, in a bid to raise the hope of community members for brighter days amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, was one of the best things to have happened to the community in recent time.
Bassey, Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and a 2010 recipient of the Right Livelihoods Awards (aka the Alternative Nobel Price), engaged young people at the community office of the NGO, Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE).
While encouraging his mentees to be focused on having a brighter future, Bassey said; “This point in your life is when you begin to put up the building blocks of your entire life and career,’ he told the children.
The efforts you put into your education now, into ICT training just as you are currently involved, will determine what you become in future. The computer skills for instance, is one that you will need for the rest of your life, so you must remain focused”, he added. He further encouraged them to look beyond their poor and marginalised community and fix their attention on greater future.
Also, Bassey, a trained architect and writer, commissioned a locally fabricated hand-wash machine provided by CEE-HOPE for children training at the community centre and the community in general, to help improve sanitation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’s challenge. “For us to beat this global pandemic, constant hand-washing is very critical and so you have to consciously imbibe the habit”, said Bassey.
The hand washing machine, made by Jos, Plateau State-based Bennie Agro Limited, is fabricated in such a way that only the leg is used to pump out water and liquid soap in the process thus minimising the possibility of hand contamination.
CEE-HOPE’s Executive Director, Betty Abah, while commending Bassey for what she described as leading activist’s consistently supportive presence, said, “We are extremely grateful for the support of Dr. Bassey over the years.
This commissioning, amidst his busy schedules and visit for the Fishnet Alliance meeting, shows his commitment to seeing to the success of our work with young marginalised populations in Makoko and other places.” That was his sixth visit to Makoko, Abah said.
She added that the machine was a pilot project starting with Makoko, whose successful use would spur the group to provide for other marginalised communities where CEE-HOPE also works.