I met this boy at Wuse Market, Abuja. As I entered my car to drive away, he came to me, begging for alms.

 

There was something different about him though, the almajiris as the beggars were often referred to, were known to engage in a lot of mischief. Shoplifting to mention one, is a norm amongst them. But this boy looked particularly innocent to me. He stayed from afar and I could barely hear what he was saying.

 

I decided to engage him in a conversation

 

“What’s your name?” I asked curiously

 

“Abba” he responded earnestly stepping closer, another almajiri boy curiously came to check what this was all about.

 

“Do you go to school Abba?” I asked him concernedly

 

“No” he replied “I only go to Islamiya school sometimes”

“Why?” I asked

 

“Just like that. I’ve never been enrolled in school”

 

“But do you really want to go to school?” I enquired

 

“Yes. Wallahi” he swore

 

I had a doubt of course, but the voice screaming “he’s genuine” inside of me seemed louder. He really wanted to go school. It’s possible the means to it that may be stopping him. I decided to give this a try. I took up the challenge to enroll Abba in school.

 

I tore off a piece of paper from my notepad and scribbled my phone number.

 

“Here you go” I handed it over to him

 

“Thank you.” he jumped delightedly

 

“Do call me OK? As soon as you reach home, hand this paper over to your mum and ask her to call me.”

 

The next day, Abba’s mother called. She explained that Abba was an orphan and she wanted him to go to school but lacked the means.

 

We agreed to meet within the week and get Abba ready for school.

 

And we did meet, but what I was not prepared for was the shocking state I would meet Abba’s home and community, and the hundreds of other kids like Abba, nonchalantly left to grow like wild grass! It was such a terrifying sight!

 

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