Last week of ICS! Nothing could have prepared me for how emotional leaving Ikorodu and leaving Nigeria would be. I knew it would be sad but as the last day drew nearer I began to get excited about going home and seeing my family and friends, so I didn’t think about how sad I’d be to leave the place I had called home for 3 months.
The week began with our community leaving party. I was in two minds about this, which sounds silly, because usually parties are great and it’s a chance to have a break from all the hard work and have some fun. However, this was an event where we had to speak about the impact we had made in community and thank everyone for their co-operation and support throughout the cycle. This meant a lot of structure, a lot of talking and not a whole lot of partying!
The party got off to a pretty bad start because the rainy season suddenly decided to kick in! It absolutely poured down all day so people arrived to the party in dribs and drabs and a lot of people couldn’t come because the weather was so bad.
Once it got started it wasn’t too bad! However due to the late start we didn’t get to do much dancing and partying, but we thanked everyone for welcoming us into the community so kindly, looking after us in their homes and being so receptive with the work we did. We also each spoke about the various events we delivered and things we had done with the members of the community. Then some important people from the community spoke about us and the work we had done, including Mr Shitu, Secretary for the CDC, who was one of the kind hosts during the placement.
The last couple of days we spent in Ikorodu were mostly spent doing reports to sum up not only the work we had completed during our cycle, but all of the cycles in Ikorodu as we were the last cycle to volunteer there.
We also planted some seeds in our bottle greenhouse for the community!
Leaving Ikorodu for debrief (which was to be held in Sagamu, Ogun State), was really sad. Some of the Community Citizen Service volunteers and local children came to say goodbye and see us off. This was so horrible, especially saying goodbye to my favourite kid ever, Bassit. He was close to tears all morning and followed us everywhere trying to savour every last moment with us.
Fighting back tears, we left for Debrief. We began to get excited to see everyone from the other two teams who had spent the last 10 weeks in Ilesa and Ifelodun, respectively.
Once we had settled in, the other teams arrived and we excitedly greeted them, eager to share stories and experiences from our communities. In all honesty it felt much more divided than it had been in the orientation we had at the beginning, when we first arrived in Nigeria. This was to be expected as we’d all become so close with our own teams and sometimes people can have a tendency to compare experiences a little. So while it was lovely to see everyone, it felt very different spending time with them all, as our experiences had all been so different and life-changing for lots of reasons.
During Debrief we had various sessions, giving feedback on every element of our placements. This had its good and bad points, but remains a necessary part of ICS and will probably be a different experience for every team that goes on placement, so I won’t go into detail about that here.
We also had socials in the evenings which each team had to organise. Ours was on the last night which was brilliant because everyone wanted to go out with a bang, but also a bad night for a party because the UK volunteers had to leave for the airport at 6am, so we had to pack and get an early night.
Team Ikorodu spent every night partying, staying up late and spending as much time together as we possibly could. We all had an amazing time and really made the absolute most of our last moments together. Including our team leaders, who were always great sports.
On our last night in Nigeria, we wore t-shirts that we had made for our team with nicknames on the back for each of us. We performed the Cup Song (You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone), which we mixed with Waka Waka by Shakira. Batool was the DJ for the evening and we had a special counterpart dance which gave everyone a chance to appreciate their counterpart pair who had been by their side for 3 months. Batool chose See You Again as the song and Emem and I tried desperately not to bawl our eyes out for the duration of the evening!
We all stayed up talking until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer, and before we knew it 5am arrived and we had to get up to shower, pack our last few things and put our luggage on the bus to travel to the airport.
Saying goodbye to our Nigerian team mates, our team leaders Dav and Maf, and our beloved Project Officer, Clement, was the most heart wrenching moment. Uk volunteer, Sam, set us all off and before we knew it, nearly every single member of the team was in floods; hugging each other and saying their goodbyes, including the ever brilliant and reserved Clement.
Throughout ICS, and particularly towards the end of placement, Team Ikorodu were strong and undivided. Of course we had ups and downs and some of us got on better than others, but we were unfailing in our efforts to be inclusive, accept everyone for who they were and be a family, first and foremost. This proved to be the key ingredient in the success of our placement, and the powerful impact we felt we made during our time in Ikorodu, Nigeria. On that final morning in Nigeria, as we spent the last moments embracing each other, our eyes glassy and our cheeks damp, each of us realised that not only had we made an impact on the community of Ikorodu, but we had all made an impact on each other, and that is a memory I will cherish forever.
O dabo Nigeria <3