Little Boys and Big Dreams

By Kim Saam

"Health is important. If you are healthy, you can enjoy life," - Ibrahim's mother, Aishatu

 

 

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          Ibrahim loves to race. At five-years-old, he’s already faster than many of his peers. With a new little brother at home, Ibrahim has been spending more time outside burning off energy – and noise – with his friends.

          The family lives in a small compound shared with a few other families in rural Nigeria. Their home is a very basic mud structure with a goat pen in the middle. There is no running water or electricity.

          While farming is a traditional way of life, Ibrahim’s family stands out in their ambition to diversify their income streams. Ibrahim’s father, Sallau, drives a motorcycle taxi in addition to working on the family farm. He also acts as a community leader, bringing people together to discuss politics. His mother, Aishatu, helps out on the farm and also harvests and sells firewood. The family hopes to raise enough capital so that Aishatu can learn how to sew and knit. With that additional income, they hope they can make enough to send their children to school and build a new house.

          Ibrahim started school, but he had to be withdrawn because they couldn’t afford the fees. Despite the setback, Aishatu insists on the importance of education, saying, “I pray that everyone should be able to go to school and get an education. I didn’t go to school, so that hurts.”

          It’s a busy month for Ibrahim’s parents. With the rainy season approaching, now is the time to plant the yams and beans that will make up the bulk of their next harvest. The family is currently hosting three friends who have come to help with the planting. In addition to yams and beans, rice and millet round out the family’s daily meals. Ibrahim likes rice the most.

          With a diet limited in nutritional diversity, Ibrahim’s immune system hasn’t always been strong enough to fight off the illnesses common in his community. By the age of three, he had already had typhoid five or six times.

          Aishatu noticed a change in her son after he started receiving vitamin A and deworming about two years ago. Since then, she said, Ibrahim’s appetite has grown, and he started gaining weight. His overall health seemed to improve and, Aishatu shared, he has more energy. “Health is important. If you are healthy, you can enjoy life,” she said.

          Through hard work and determination, the family is working hard to improve their standing. Though their dreams for themselves may be modest, Sallau isn’t shy about his audacious hopes for his oldest son, “I want Ibrahim to be the President of Nigeria,” he said. 


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