Hi y’all, trust you all are doing well.
I’m sure you know by now that I’m a serving corp member, however, what you might not know is that I’m a typical village Corper, this means that I was posted to serve in a Village (with a capital V) where there is no: power supply, easy water access, good network, and some other basic amenities… You can read more about my PPA* here and here.
At first, it was difficult to accept my new situation talk less of adapting to it. It took a while before I began to accept my new status, then I began to learn ways to make the best of where I am.
My PPA is a secondary school (the only one) in an Ijaw community in Burutu local government area of Delta state (I was reposted). The first day I got there, I was speechless: I had spent a week after camp trying to work my reposting ‘cos where I was first posted to was over the high sea and I couldn’t go there,then I was reposted to this village where there are more trees than people (my friend calls my PPA a forest). It was like my worst nightmare come true, and then the principal refused to reject me…..to cut the long story short, I went home, packed my bags and resumed to Okpokunou (that’s the name of the community).
Okpokunou is that place where:
–you have to walk about 10 minutes before getting to the community, –you pay to charge your phone and other devices,
–you pray for rain to fall so you can have water to use,
–you use rain water to cook, bath, wash,…
–you pay to buy water,
–to get to the closest bank, you’ll spend about #1200 (naira),
–the village houses have no male toilet or bath room (they use the river for their conveniences, and the list continues.
After spending almost a year in this community and in a situation where I never thought I could cope, I deemed it necessary to share with y’all some of the lessons I’ve learned and techniques on how to survive if you ever find yourself in such a situation. I’ll be sharing with you advantages, disadvantages and strategies on how to survive as a village corper.
Advantages of Being A Village Corper
1. Lots of free time. Serving in a village affords one the opportunity of having lots of free time on one’s hands. You decide what you do with your time.
2. Self-responsibilty. Serving in a village, especially an interior one, implies that you are solely responsible for yourself. There’ll be no parents, mentor, or pastor to be accountable to, if you don’t want to. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
3. Opportunity to plan for the future. As a village corper, plenty of free time allows you to plan for life after NYSC, it also provides you time to meditate, think and come up with great ideas.
4. Savings. I’m not sure if I should put this in advantages or disadvantages. From the way I’ve seen it, the only way to have savings, especially if you are in an interior village, is to be very disciplined and calculative. You’ve got to plan when to go out to buy stuffs, make your hair, make withdrawals, etc.
Disadvantages of Being A Village Corper
1. Tendency to be lazy. This is one of the major disadvantage of being a village corper. The people in the community where I serve are generally lazy, and if one isn’t careful, you might successfully spend the whole of your service year doing nothing.
2. Disconnect from real life. If you are in a village, you are easily at a disconnect from what is going on in the real life.
3. Missed opportunities. Serving in the village can be like pouring salt on an open wound, it can be painful because you’ll be missing out on some opportunities you might have made the best of if you weren’t in the village. My advice is keep abreast of what’s going on in your field, seize the opportunity you come across and make plans for after NYSC.
Strategies On How To Survive As A Village Corper.
1. Understand the terrain. If you are posted to a village, the first thing you should do is, understand the terrain. Don’t waste time like I did; accept your situation, understand the way things work there and look for the best way to work things out suitably. If there’s no power supply, try to locate a place to charge; if there’s no water, get to know how they get water there, see if you can improve on it, if not, manage it.
2. Don’t stay idle. Since what you’ll most likely be doing is teaching, you’ll have plenty of time on your hands. Don’t, I repeat, DO NOT STAY IDLE. Learn something new, organize a coaching class (if you can), just don’t stay idle.
3. Learn something new. Of course your PPA is in a village, and there are probably few things you tolerate about the place, yet you can try to learn something there. For me, I learnt tailoring, it wasn’t really easy ‘cos the major medium of communication is Ijaw, yet I was determined to not waste my service year. You also can look from what works for you in the community where you are.
Another thing under this category is that you can take a certification course. Of course this will cost you more, as you’ll have to spend more on transportation, but I have a colleague that did a certification course. She usually spends almost #2000 to get to the training center and she had to go there like 4 times before her exam. She did it because she was determined.
4. Read, educate yourself. Reading was one of the things that kept me sane on my PPA. Read fiction novels, non-fiction books, solve GMAT, TOEFL, or GRE questions. Read inspirational books, read more on your career path. Read both e-books and hard cover, just read.
5. Discover a hobby. Plenty free time affords you the opportunity to discover a new hobby, or work on an existing one. The hobby I worked on is writing, yours might be painting or anything. My blogging got better and more consistent because I had more time to write and I had new experiences to write about too. So, what hobby are you going to work on? Or what hobby are you going to discover?
6. Set goals, make plans, get new ideas. Being in a village should expose you to new ways, who knows, you might just discover the next big thing due to a solution to a problem you noticed in the community. Also set goals and make plans for life after NYSC. Use the time to discover the real you, update your CV, etc.
7. Leave your PPA once in a while. This is very important; the more you stay in your PPA, the more your mind gets attuned to the way of life of the community where you are. It will be best if you leave once in a while, visit a friend, attend a conference in the city, etc. Keep yourself updated on what’s going on in the outside world, and make best use of your social media.
On social media: don’t just do regular whatsapp and facebook; do virtual networking, meet people via social media, you can also sell your products using social media platforms as a means of advertisement.
Finally, serving in the village is not easy, it opened my eyes to new ways, traditions and experiences. I couldn’t code often because of power supply, but I learned to write more. God was and is still my staying strength, He sustained me on days when I was down in the dumps and days when I was happy and bubbly. Corpers’ Fellowship also also afforded me the opportunity to meet new people, and it provided me a home away from my PPA.
In all, I’m grateful for the experience, I’ve learned, grown, and I’ve been stretched.
What is your own NYSC story? Do you have questions, comments or additions? Oya, hit me up in the comment section and let’s get talking.
*PPA – Place of Primary Assignment.