It was my first night at the Kangere NYSC camp in Bauchi. I had overpacked as I usually do. I’d rather travel overpacked than underpacked. I hate needing something I left at home while being away from home. However, on this night, I wouldn’t have minded leaving 80% of all I had on me.

I was ready for this, I thought, having done a lot of research laden with the past NYSC experiences of others. But nothing I had read prepared me for this moment. We had finished basic registration. I had everything I needed — meal ticket card, bucket, mattress, and everything in my big school bag and medium sized box — except a room. So there I was, carrying or trying to carry all I had on me with no place to rest my exhausted spirit, soul and body.

I can’t remember the details now, but we were about six in this same situation and I hadn’t really spoken to any of these guys all day. I could tell they were all northerners from their accent. After a while of walking around and looking for a room together, I got tired and stopped outside a filled room while they continued the search. I terrifyingly embraced my fate of sleeping on my mattress outside. I was terrified because I had so much to safeguard. I considered being a night watchman for my properties as the thought of waking up with only the mattress haunted me. But that consideration was quickly slapped away by the hands of a thick sleep.

I brought my phone out to call home. The news of my present situation was met with exclamations of “Ahh Oluwa o, gba koso o (Lord take control)” from my mum. She begged me to keep my phone well as I ended the call. I kept my phone in my pocket and hugged my properties closely as I lied down and closed my eyes.

Some minutes later, I was woken up by multiple taps on my body. “Bro, bro. Wake up. We don find room for one side down there. We say make we come tell you so we go go together,” one of them said. The way I leaped with joy from within as I stood up, you’d think I had just won the lottery. They assisted me with my things while we all walked to the room. I remember looking around me, one guy with my mattress, and another with my bucket while I carried my bag and dragged my box. I was gripped with so much gratitude. I kept thanking them for coming back for me and helping with my load as we finally settled into the room.  I would still see them many times on the camp ground after that night and would feel that same grip of gratitude all over again.

Yours in desperate need,

Ayo Wright

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