Daddy’s Story

Chinyere Aniagoh - Ecuador


November 10, 2012

It’s been a very full time since I’ve been here. My host family is actually amazing they have redefined every negative stereotype and proven every positive one I’ve heard about Ecuadorians. For example, it is absolutely necessary to wake up before 8 o’clock and there’s no suchthing as missing a meal you will eat whether you want to or not and I have a nice little belly to prove it, and everyone’s mi amor (my love) it’s amazing how much affection and love they show to one another — it reminds me of my mother, who I miss tremendously.

I had my first on site one-on-one check-in with Lila the other day, and it went extremely well. We went off topic for a minute and had a mini discussion about how many people in developing nations believe that the United States is the end all be all place to live. This conversation went on to children in these nations, who never get exposed to anything, and how devastating this was to us that their furthest dream is becoming a taxi driver or just owning a little common shop. I though a bit longer and deeper on the topic and it brought me all the way back to my father, who grew up in a village in Nigeria during the Nigerian civil war; lost his mother at the age of 10. His father, a single dad with three young children, remarried as was expected in our Nigerian, Ebo culture, but the women he married was very cruel to him and his younger siblings. My dad would tell me stories about when he was young. They would walk for hours in the blazing African sun with his younger brother holding a small radio, all of them not knowing exactly where the next meal was coming from. My father despite his situation always knew there was a better life out there. He worked extreme hard to be top in his class and overcoming all the stereotypes and statistics made for him; not having a father with higher education, having a dead mother, and coming from a poor family in Nigeria and became the valedictorian of his class giving him the opportunity to travel to England for University. After completing University, he believed that he would find a better life in the United States. That was definitely not the case when my father finally made it to The United States. Although having gotten his degree from a University in Europe, because he was an African with a strong accent he couldn’t find work. Therefore, he was forced to become a taxi driver, but my father never gave up and always dream of the best possible life he could provide for his new family. Between working about 18 hours a day and having three young children, he literally taught himself how to use the computer; he brought an old computer and broke it apart piece by piece. Long story short 15 years later my father is a top computer software developer for Oracle Corp., and the sad thing about it is all though he has years of experience and works his butt of everyday, he still has to prove himself because the simple fact that he’s for a different country and black.

That was a glimpse into my father’s story but it’s often the same struggle for many people whether they are from Nigeria, West Africa or Ecuador, South America. It really makes me reflect on the opportunities that I have been given and I am so thankful for them, my father is the exception that “made it” but so many children can’t escape the cycle of poverty and I am seeing the outcome of that here in Ecuador and it saddens me. In my time here if I can plant the seed of hope in one child and that changes their life forever, I have done my job well.

 

Chinyere Aniagoh