As a part of our Radical Advent campaign, we want to highlight Ilaje, located within Lagos, Africa’s largest city, on Nigeria’s southern coast. A city of 16.5 million people, it is home to some of the worst slums in the world. In a 2006 report, the World Bank identified nine slum communities requiring urgent response. Hands at Work is active in three Lagos slums, including Ilaje, which is notorious for its location on the edge of an ocean bay and even extending out over the water with homes built on stilts.
The scale of overcrowding in Ilaje is mind boggling: Up to 30 people live in some single room shacks where people are required to sleep in shifts. Aside from a few private schools just outside Ilaje, no school is accessible to the poorest children. Half-dressed children roam the streets during the day, working as peddlers to create at least a small income. The ocean bay floods the community at high tide, leaving residual water lying around homes and feeding a malaria epidemic. HIV is prevalent in the area. There is no access to clean water.
In early 2007, a pastor named Rex was transferred to take over a tiny church building in the slum. Rex and his wife, Patricia, were shocked at what they saw in the community. They challenged their congregation members, as well as others in Ilaje, that something had to be done about the situation, and so began walking the streets as a team to seek out the most vulnerable among the children, widowed and sick in the community. Eventually they formed a formal community-based organization (CBO) reaching out to many vulnerable children in this community. Hands has been supporting this CBO by mentoring and training volunteers, and through monthly donations from a group of advocates in southern California and a non-profit group from the U.S. called Poverty Stops Here, Hands has enabled local volunteers to to care for 150 children in Ilaje! Make this a Radical Advent by supporting Hands at Work in reaching more vulnerable children in Africa! Please consider making a donation to our Christmas campaign here.