Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Second week in Lagos

This week we went on an excursion to the US Consulate on Victoria Island, which is part of the city of Lagos, for an update on safety issues and services for Americans in Nigeria.  It took us over 2 hours to get there and the same coming home...and it was only 15 miles away.  That is what traffic is like much of the time.    There are okadas that zip in and out (motorcycles carrying paying passengers) but other traffic is very slow.  The streets are in very poor condition and in many places are dirt roads with deep ruts.  People walk among the slow moving traffic selling various goods... from newspapers to electrical appliances.  All of this is in the middle of a city with many "booths" on the sides of the road selling cloth, leather goods, sunglasses, etc.  Thomas, one of the mission drivers, drove us...There were many times I closed my eyes as he made lanes that did not exist; narrowly missing nearby vehicles and people walking in the streets (in most places there are no sidewalks).  That is how all the drivers operate along with honking their horns for everyone to get out of their way.  It is hilarious.  We saw many living areas where people live in huts barely protected from the elements. 

One of the villages that our mission is working with is actually a leper colony.  ( I thought leposy had been eradicated.)  Medication is donated at no cost for the people in the village, but the government charges the villagers for this medicine to make money.  The people in the village cannot afford to buy the medicine so leprosy, and their suffering continues.  Our church is trying to get medicine and wheelchairs to the people in the village directly through a contact that has been working in the leper colony.  We are also trying to help them become financially independent by teaching them how to grow crops in order to afford the medication from the government.  The church is also drilling bore holes, here and in other villages so people can have fresh, unpolluted water.  Many villages still wash their clothes and bodies, as well as get drinking water, from a nearby stream that is usually not very clean. 

Thursday and Friday were Muslim holidays and almost everything was closed down so we took the opportunity to go back to Victoria Island to visit the National Museum of Nigeria.  (There was very little traffic...very unusual).  It portrayed the history of this part of Nigeria as well as the political history of the whole country.  There is too much to tell in this email, but it is a history of much violence...personal and political.  Not too many years ago twins were killed because they were thought to bring bad luck, political leaders were murdered as regimes have changed, and living conditions cause a high rate of infant deaths.  Amazingly, the Nigerian people are very resilient and most have great hope for their children's future. 

Not much gas in Lagos, so our driver had to put some gas in the car from the mission reserve.
Apartment Buildings
 A kay kay (three wheeled taxi).  Sometimes see six or more people riding.
A kay kay with a passenger. 
 High rise apartment building in very poor condition.
Museum of Nigeria.  Wonderful inside, but they refused to let us take pictures. 
High rise buildings on Victoria Island.  Some parts look fairly modern. 
An unusual street on Victoria Island.  This is as good as it gets. 
 Looking across the Lagos Lagoon.
 A shanti town, very depressing.
People selling on the street. 
People packed in a taxi van.  They sometimes hang out the sliding side door. 

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