An ex-corps member left the community she served in better than she met it; and she made the governor’s honours roll. EMMA ELEKWA reports on her project that is warming many hearts.
Vera Amune was surprised to get a call notifying her she would receive the Governor’s award for a project she did while serving in Anambra State last year.
She had thought it was all over when she passed out last October, after completing her service as part of the 2018 Batch C, at the Community Secondary School, Ukwulu, Dunukofia Local Government Area of the state. However, the book of remembrance was opened and her name was in it for flooring four classrooms of the school.
She was honoured with nine others who served during the 2018/2019 service year with the Governor’s award which came with N200,000 and a laptop.
The Edo-born graduate of Food Science and Technology from the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo, Ondo State, said her time in the rural community offered her the opportunity to impact lives and, ultimately, won her the award.
She told Campuslife that she was inspired to do the project when she saw how the dirty floor negatively affected the students she taught Mathematics, Basic Technology, Catering and Craft.
She said: “I was moved by the students in the class. The first time I entered into the class, the junior section in particular, where I acted as the form teacher, was in a horrible state. Everywhere was looking so dusty and untidy.
“Funny enough, it was on a Monday, the children were looking dirty, even though it was not yet break time, it was all because of the dust. If it were to be just an ordinary ground, it could have been understandable. But it was already floored, but the cement were virtually worn out with potholes everywhere.
“The crooked floor affected the students’ seating arrangements as they tried to dodge the potholes. You see someone’s locker a bit distanced from his chair, forcing him to stretch his hand to write on the desk.
“It was indeed an unpleasant experience. So I thought it wise to do something about it. That was how I started. I spoke with the school’s principal. She told me she had tried to rally round men to assist to carry out the project, but nobody was willing as they complained of financial challenges.”
Setting out where the principal had met with little success and with only eight months left of her service year to raise funds and complete the project, Vera said she was able to convince both the big and the small in the society to donate in cash and kind.
“I started by inviting someone to evaluate the work and the cost implications. It wasn’t one class that was in that shape, four of the classes in the block. Some were even in worse shape than the one I first saw. I took it upon myself to meet people. I kept telling myself that I could do it.
“I am well aware that people are so critical, especially when it comes to parting with their hard-earned money. So I assured them that my major concern was not to get money from them, but the materials needed for the job – the number of bags of cement, sand and workmanship. I also assured them of close supervision of the work.
“I got contacts of some people, most of whom were so excited that I could come up with such an idea. Even those who were not privileged to contribute financially, their moral support was overwhelming. Some brought the materials. Some contributed 10 bags of cement, some four. Some brought tippers of sand.”
On how she convinced them to give, Vera said: “I told them, I am not from here; and I don’t know anyone of you. These are your children; you may not be their direct parents, but in one way or another, you’re related to them, and that’s why you need to ensure they study in safe and comfortable environment. That was how God put words into my mouth and I was able to convince them.”
Vera said she had only two weeks to the end of her service year to implement the project after mobilising materials. Racing against time, she said she focused more on the goal of making an impact rather than winning an award.
“When I was embarking on the project, I did not believe that it could qualify me for anything. At a point, I said, even if NYSC ended up not recognising the project, let it just be that I contributed my quota to improving the lives of the people of the area. Remember, the time I met the inspector was already late, and I knew the due processes it must pass through before it could be approved. But God just did it that what would have taken months to approve, just took few days to get approval from the state co-ordinator. The truth remains, I wasn’t expecting any award,” she said.
Vera’s project made the teachers, students, their parents and other members of the community happy.
The Principal, Mrs. Lilian Omenife Ifeoma, expressed surprise at the courage of the corps member in carrying out the project, as well as its speedy completion.
She said it was the first time a corps member would ever do such in the school and the community at large.
“Honestly, I’m very happy about the project. I’m also surprised she was able to complete the project within the shortest time possible and at the same time,” she said.
One of the community members, Mr. Kachi Uzodigwe, who also was one of the sponsors, was full of gratitude over the project, saying the thought about such project in the first place was challenging.
The students who had expressed displeasure over the state of their classrooms could not hold their joy after the completion of the project.
One of them, Ikechukwu Moses, said: “We lack words to express our hearts over what the corps member has done for us. We will no longer be struggling with dust, especially during dry season.We pray that God will continue to bless her for remembering us.”
Speaking on the project, the Anambra State National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Co-ordinator, Kehinde Aremu, said the scheme was excited at the courage and zeal demonstrated by the corps member.
He said the scheme had always encouraged female corps members to take responsibilities in whatever form, while undergoing their one year national service. He challenged other corps members to borrow a leaf from her as they contribute their quota towards the development of their host communities
“We have always challenged our female corps members not to be lazy but to always take up responsibilities in the course of their service year.
“We are glad that quite a number of them, including Vera, are responding acccordingly, and we are indeed proud of them,” he said.
For Vera, serving in Dunukofia was a blessing, despite being a rural area. She praised the community for being welcoming during her stay.
“Sincerely speaking, I don’t have any regrets. Many people complained when they were sent to the village. But, for me, it was a blessing in disguise, because I do not think I could have achieved the feat if I were to be posted to the city. I don’t have any regrets because going to that village was divinely arranged by God. The host community was welcoming and hospitable. It got to a point people were asking me if I were from the community,” she said.