‘So Evi have you applied for the NYSC program?’ Yes, daddy, I reluctantly answered my father, I should be going to the orientation camp, with the next batch, in a few months. Lord knows I didn’t want to serve my motherland through the NYSC program. For those who are not familiar with this acronym, it stands for National Youth Service Corps. Every Nigerian, who graduates college, before the age of 30 years, has to undergo this one year program before they can legally work in the country. Although there are some few exceptions. Unfortunately, I graduated college way before I ever dreamt of turning 30, so I was stuck with this program, that I dreaded with a passion.
Image courtesy of Unsplash
Time For Camp
This is not one of those holiday or summer camps for high school students, where everybody’s adrenaline is running high, which comes with the excitement of being away from your parents, for a few weeks. I had been living by myself since I turned 19, and I was 29 when I had to serve, so there was no excitement in me. ‘Evi don’t worry; you will have fun,’ my friends will often tell me. ‘Who knows, you might meet somebody’ one of my aunts suggested. There was one thing I knew for sure; dating was out of my mind. I just needed to figure out my next step.
The night before I headed out to that not so great venture, I spent my time packing; making sure I had everything I needed. Buckets, plates, toilet rolls, pillows, blankets, cough medicine, Advil, and an excuse to return home on the same day.
Months before me going to camp, I underwent a major surgery, to remove some benign tumors that were found in my abdomen. Yes, I was going through a lot. Thank God the surgery was a success and a viable excuse for me to leave camp if the living conditions weren’t conducive. I arrived at camp the next day and had to join a long queue. After we got assigned to rooms, of over 15 people to a room, we went to the next order of the day, registration.
‘If you know you went to school in the eastern part of Nigeria, line up here, Northern part; here, south and west; this way and for those who went to school abroad, line up here.’ The woman in charge shouted out to us. I don’t know what the point of the segregation was, but if you think, foreign students were going to be treated the same, with those who went to school in Nigeria, you are wrong. We stood on that line for eight hours (I am not even trying to exaggerate here). It was probably even longer than that. My feet began to swell, and I thought to myself, this is my cue to leave.
It was as if the people in charge of the registration, had a personal vendetta, against those who schooled abroad. They didn’t attend to us, till late at night, and when I went ahead to request permission to leave the camp, I was screamed at. ‘It is already too late! If something happens to you on your way home, we will be held responsible.’ Oga but my driver has been waiting for me all day. My response back to him, but that didn’t move him. If you guys had done your jobs effectively, this process would have taken three hours maximum, and not ten. But trust me, I didn’t have to the liver, to say that to them. I sheepishly accepted my fate, went to the car to get the rest of my stuff and found my way to The room I was assigned.
My gosh, what I saw that night was beyond me. The clean environment that we just checked into a few hours ago was already drowned with filth. The huge trash cans were at capacity, and some females started throwing their trash, on the floor around the trash cans. The bathrooms were nothing to write home about. It was already stinking, as water was mixed with pee, on the floor. There was no way I was going to remain in that camp for three weeks. I was going to catch something. Morning couldn’t come any sooner, and I was armed with my doctor’s report, showing that I just had major surgery. As soon as they caught a glimpse of that, I was sent home, 24 hours, after I had arrived at the Lagos Orientation Camp.
Image courtesy of Unsplash
Soon after that, I was posted to a primary school in a small district. I worked out a deal with them, where I would show up to work, only twice a week, with no pay. I was then privileged to work with the most amazing set of kids ever, they were also a major source of inspiration to some of my early articles (check out My Brother’s Keeper). That deal also gave me enough room to focus on my website, which you are on right now (yay). I used my free time to write articles, read books, read about how successful people operated in my field, and at the end of the one year of service, I was convinced that I wanted to be a writer, creating content not just for my platform, but for others as well.
This venture, landed me a virtual internship opportunity, with a company in New York City, other writing opportunities here in Nigeria, and people wanting to contribute to my platform. The day I was turned away from the United States, I did not see how, all of it was going to work together for my good, but God had a plan. After I came back, that was when I found out I had those tumors that needed to be taken out as soon as possible, that was when I found my calling to be doing what I love doing now, that was when I appreciated the fact to be within 15 minutes proximity from my family.
Someone asked me yesterday if I will take on an opportunity to move back to the United States, when all the allegations against me, is cleared out, and my answer was no. Not because I don’t miss it, or I don’t love the place anymore, but because I am now confident in who I am and what I do, and I don’t need a specific country or geographical location to define my worth. Will I like to travel there? Absolutely! But I will love to come home to my family. I am a Nigerian, I love being Nigerian, I love my country, even with all of its hiccups, and I will love to be a great contributor to my society.
Hope you enjoyed this short stories series titled Loss, and are encouraged by my story, not to give up on life no matter what because God is never caught without a plan. You can catch up on the First and Second part of the series if you haven’t done so already. Feel free to always share your unique experiences with us, and also comment below, like, share our articles and subscribe, never to miss an update.
About The Author: Evi Idoghor is a Christian, writer and content creator on Letstalknationblog.com. She is a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Consumed by her love for writing and desire to effect change, she launched her online platform––Let’s Talk Nation––to tap into her creativity and start meaningful conversations that would make a difference around the world.
Most of her writing has been influenced by her time spent in America, where she lived for about 11 years. Also, she lived in Nigeria and South Korea and currently loves traveling the world while learning about other fascinating cultures. You can find her on all social media platforms with @eviidoghor.