National service could prepare you for life

BY: Paul Zowonu
National service could prepare you for life
National service could prepare you for life

Not every skill and knowledge for survival is learnt in the classroom.

It is in practical life that one can perfect skills learnt in the  schools and acquire new experiences that prepare a person for future challenges.

As humans, no one can be sure of life’s test ahead of us; but somehow, life prepares us for future unexpected events, if we allow ourselves.

It has been a practice that many young people, encouraged by adults resist being posted to the communities to serve the people.

 The young find it comfortable working in offices as national service personnel; they won’t even take postings to teach in their own hometowns and villages where there are no qualified teachers.

 The young leave school with no moral responsibilities to society.
Last week, I met a long-lost friend on Facebook. He is now  a PhD student in one of the universities in Europe.

We first met when I equally responded to a similar call to serve my country in the only way I knew how at the time.

I had been posted after training college to teach in a basic school at Klenormadi, a village in the Ketu District and I was pretty excited to get to the village.

I went to my paternal aunt who lived in a respected area of the capital city to tell her about it; and she was rather amazed that I was actually planning to respond to that call.

 To assure herself that  I knew the effect of the choice I was making, she asked me if I knew the meaning of ' Klenormadi', the name of the village I was supposed to go and teach.

As naive as I was about names and their meanings at the time, I had not thought about the meaning of 'Klenormadi".

The meaning was enough to scare away any stranger who would want to make a home there; it was 'Cowards won’t dare'.

To my aunty’s surprise, it seemed I was not scared to heed to the call of service in spite of the name.

My aunt at the time was well placed to change that posting for me, just by a phone call; but I did not offer her that chance.

In the end, she offered me a Phoenix bicycle; she said I would need it and said goodbye to me.

By the close of the day, I had alighted at a junction on the main road to make the final 5km journey into the village.
The citizens mostly used Phoenix bicycles to commute. The one or two rickety taxis on the roads were unavailable except on market days; and the fares were expensive.

Whilst contemplating how I was going to make the journey with my small luggage, a good Samaritan came to me. Surprisingly, he was more worried about me making a home in the village I was supposed to live and teach.

He tried convincing  me to find a place closer to the main highway and to commute to the village to teach by my bicycle; but I wasn’t going to buy that idea. I reported to the village and lived among the people.

I got used to living without electricity in the unusually dark nights in no time, but the most difficult challenge was access to clean drinking water.

The only pool of water available was for animals and it also served as a swimming pool even for women at the close of day. But we lived in the village for close to six years before applying to go for further studies.

And for me personally, the life experiences in that village taught me so many things about life; about our culture and about survival.

Looking back now, I do not regret anything about deciding to spend my youthful age in a faraway village from my parents and loved ones for the first time.

And I sincerely believe that the few successes I have chalked up in life and my ability to overcome the challenges I have faced in life are primarily due to the experiences I gathered in the years I lived in the village.

And last week, when I met my colleague with whom I had lived in the beautiful village, I was so glad that God had blessed us so much for everything.

Even though I am not a PhD candidate as myformer colleague, I  think I have equally achieved everything a young man in his early 40’s would desire in life.

 I am content; and I don’t feel my six years stay in the village took anything away from what I could become.

 In actual fact, I cherish the memories of my stay at Klenormadi.

And today I see all the anxieties school leavers go through to avoid being posted to the rural areas to serve the people who mostly need their knowledge.

I think it is tragic for young people to deprive themselves of the experiences of who we are as a people, by refusing to accept postings to the rural societies; and it is equally tragic for the people in the rural areas who would have benefited from the little knowledge these young ones have been exposed to while in classrooms.

The young should desire to give their service to the most deprived in our society; it is a blessing; it is fulfilling; it is an eye opener; and one gets prepared enough to face any challenge in life.

As I said from the start, not every skill and knowledge necessary for survival in this life can be  learnt in classrooms.

Living among the people affords you the opportunity to learn at first-hand how ordinary people, even without education, survive the everyday challenges of life; some even are more successful in this hard economy than those of us with all the degrees.

The writer is a youth activist.

Writer’s email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Date: 23/04/2019 | Venue: Labadi Beach Hotel