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#ClimateStory4Kids: The Cursed Stream of Bodo Village

Bodo village

#ClimateStory4Kids: The Cursed Stream of Bodo Village

As sad as it is to hear, children are among the most vulnerable to climate change. Yet, many children go on their merry way with no idea that their future is being threatened by changing climate. Even worse, some are currently suffering from what their young minds cannot understand.

In our new series of #ClimateStory4Kids, we will be sharing relatable stories of climate change and what it looks like for young people in Africa as well as what they’re doing to take action.

It was still very dark when a group of old men sat at a public square to talk about the bad changes in their village. From boyhood, they had experienced the prosperity of Bodo village, their beloved land. Now, they could only shake their heads sadly at all they had lost- prosperity, happiness, and the favor of their gods.

While the elders prepared for the community meeting, the village began to rustle with activities as the fishermen, and farmers began preparing for their daily activities. At the back of everyone’s mind is the village meeting that will be held later that day.

As soon as the sky had lightened, the village children rose up and prepared to obtain water for their households from a stream in another village. They go that early because it was that time of the year when the scorching hot sun blazes with relentless fury.

The children once fetched water from their local river. In fact, they used to look forward to going there. To them, it was an opportunity to play and refresh themselves by having a long swim in the cool river. Until they were forbidden to go there. Their beloved river is no more cool or even clean.

Upon learning that their precious stream had become unfit for drinking, cooking, or bathing, everyone was devastated, especially the children. Still, the villagers had different ideas about the polluted state of their river. Given their superstitious beliefs, some attributed the situation to punishment from their gods.

Omebari, the village’s most respected priest said, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is the result of what we’ve done to the gods. The gods are furious with us. It is their animosity that has caused us to suffer in this way.”

Looking at the faces of concerned villagers who have gathered before their Chief, Omebari spat tobacco-colored saliva on the dusty ground. “The gods have told me that this will continue to do until we take action,” he added.

At Omebari’s pronouncement, Chief Afoke shook his head in sorrow because the contamination had continued for a long time now. He had no clue what to do even as his people were suffering.

Already people were getting sick from drinking the contaminated water. Five families have lost children. The land which had once flourished bears no resemblance to the barren and joyless place it has now become.

Somewhere in the village, a child cries. “Mama, my stomach aches.” Since the previous night, Ajiri has been in excruciating pain. She’d heard how four children had been reported dead to the Chief after drinking the “cursed” water from the stream. Ajiri didn’t have a choice that day so she’d taken a sip from it because she was so thirsty.

“Did you drink water from the stream, Aji?” Sibe enquired about her only child.

“I couldn’t help myself, mother, I was thirsty. I couldn’t help myself, I only drank a bit.” Ajiri replied feebly. She was so weak because she had been stooling for days. Since the illness began, Sibe, her mother had been feeding her thin gruel.

Tears rolled down Sibe’s worn cheeks as she gazed upon her daughter helplessly. She couldn’t even afford to cook a proper meal and now she’s forced to take her only child to the hospital. The contaminated water had damaged most of their farmland. Food was very scarce and everyone is reduced to a small ration of food.

“We have to leave this cursed land. My daughter and I might not survive if we remain in this cursed land.” Sibe thought to herself.

The situation in Bodo village continued for two months until Shola, Mama Baridule’s first son and a city engineer, returned home for the holidays.

Shola was shocked at the condition of the village. After he learned what the village priest had been spreading about the cause of the pollution, he was amazed.

“This is not the gods. It is that big company, Drut Oil. The exploration they are doing is causing oil spillage, and this is what is killing the fishes and costing us clean water.” Shola said during a meeting arranged by the community youths.

“Praise the gods! So, tell us Shola. What can we do to stop this?” Onosa, the youth leader asked.

“I’ve read about destructions like this in other places around the world. All we have to do now is organize a meeting between our community chief, the elders, and a representative of the company. Let’s tell them what they’re doing to our land.”

A youth shouted from the crowd, “What if they don’t listen?”

Shola calmly replied, “Well, in that case, we must approach the court to settle the matter. We might need to organize a peaceful demonstration where we get to say “No” to the oil company’s exploitation of our land.”

That sounded good to the youths who nodded their heads in agreement and they agreed on a date to hold the protest. While the elders of the land engaged in a series of discussions with the company’s representative, the youths kept up their own protests.

“We apologize for all that we have caused for the community. May the souls of all the children that died rest in peace. We will take responsibility for the treatment of those that are currently in the hospital.

Not only that, we plan to change our operations to avoid causing further environmental harm. We promise to fix this.” The Regional Director of Drut Oil addressed the community one month later.

“Is it the same hospital that has refused to attend to us, or another one?” Sibe yelled from the back, which made people turn to look at her. Most of them were surprised to see that Sibe had joined the protest.

“How about we bring in some medical practitioners from the city to help us with the treatment?” The Director said as he tried to calm the protesters. The youths looked at themselves and nodded in agreement.

“You can pay for the treatment of those sick children and even bring doctors from anywhere in the world. But have you thought about the fact that the water will still be affected due to the oil spillage that your company has caused?” Shola yelled at the director.

“Yes!” Everyone screamed.

“We will work towards reducing the oil spillage, if not complete eradication, of the oil spillage, we promise!”

The Director had to speak louder to be heard by the murmuring protestors. After the Director addressed them, some of them left there happy while some left with a little bit of hope.

Sibe was on her way to the hospital after she left the protest ground. Shola ran up to her. “Wait up, Sibe!” Shola yelled as he drew closer. “Are you on your way to the hospital?” he asked her.

“Yes, I have left Ajiri alone for way too long. The nurses are probably not attending to her,” she responded bitterly.

They both started walking down to the hospital. “Do you think they will do all these things they have promised?” Sibe asked.

“We can only hope. Even if they pay for the treatment of all those children, the creek remains polluted. They’re responsible for ruining the ecosystem and causing a lot of harm to all communities, not just Bodo village. Something needs to be done and done fast before we are all wiped off the earth by our own mistakes.” Shola answered.

Giving him a funny look, Sibe said, “Your grammar seems kind of confusing, but of course I agree with you. This is not the first time something like this is happening.

But we can’t give up. We won’t give up and allow them to ruin the future of our children.” They both nodded grimly as they walked off, each one lost in thought.

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