He looked up at her with sadness in his eyes. His words shook the essence of her being. She searched the confines of her heart for a space large enough to contain the nostalgic feeling that crept in. He had asked a simple question yet it felt like she had been caught up in a hurricane. “Aunty now that you are going, when are you people coming again?”
When a few corps members (now ex-corps members) took up the challenge of project Aspire, many would have said to them, ‘leave it be, there’s no way this project would make any impact’. However, like the little girl at the beach picking up and throwing back washed up fishes back into the ocean, they made a difference in some lives.
The Project Aspire seemed like lofty idea. A correctional facility for young boys set in the heart of Lagos, one many would have driven or walked by without realizing its existence. It was the courageous effort of a group of corps members alongside sponsors that made the project a reality. The motive was to give mentorship and empowerment to boys who had taken the wrong path and ended up in a juvenile facility.
Komolafe Olatokunbo and Adedeji Jesuloluwa took the bull by its horns, involving other corps members to make the project worthwhile.
Sixty boys trooped into the Hall at the Correctional Home, Oregun on the 17th of September, 2015. Most had anxious faces but were visibly excited to be out of their classrooms. Others looked quite indifferent. All sixty were excited to be dressed in brightly coloured Oando branded T shirts and caps. There was an impression that some of them were just tired of seeing a bunch of ‘do-gooders’ come to organize programmes for them only to make them feel better about themselves. However, even with the faces, these brave young corps members were expectant and hopeful.
A few of them opened up and shared their stories, some more pathetic than the others. Professionals from different fields such Mrs. Ajumah Ottache ( Football Coach), Koker, Jhybo (Musical Artistes), Mr. Seye Amusa (Lawyer), Dr. Efosa Aigbedo (Doctor) acted as one-day mentors for the different career paths. Chude Jideonwo of Red Media also made an appearance and gave the first talk of the day. Excitement radiated as would-be musicians, footballers, doctors, lawyers and accountants were out to show why their profession is best in a talent competition created to ease off the tension.
The Sixty looked entirely different; brighter, full hope, oh so full of hope! There was singing, cracking of jokes and other moodlifting activities.
With sponsorship from Oando, Erudiohub, Chocolate City and many others, Project Aspire came to fruition and sowed a seed of hope into the boys.