It was the day before Christmas, and Godiya Manasseh wasn’t feeling particularly excited about what was to come. She feared that her family might even go hungry on the 25th of December, a day when Christians all over the world come together to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Manasseh, a retired teacher living in Jeka Da Fari, a community in Jalingo, the capital city of Nigeria’s Taraba State, was concerned because she had yet to receive her pension for December. In the past, when she was a full-time employee at the Jalingo Local Government Education Authority, she would have received her payment between the 18th and 20th of December. With that money, she would have prepared rice, stew, and chicken to celebrate with her family.
“I was hopeful that since pensioners from other local governments had already received their salaries, those of us from Jalingo would receive ours soon as well. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It was quite disappointing,” Manasseh lamented.
By the end of business hours on Friday, the 22nd of December 2023, when Manasseh still hadn’t received her money, she began to explore other options. “I tried borrowing money from relatives and combining it with what little I had,” but Manasseh wasn’t successful.
In these challenging economic times faced by low-income families in Nigeria, Manasseh wasn’t sure how she would celebrate Christmas this year. She feared that it might be different from previous years.
On the night before the big day, Manasseh hurried over to her neighbo
ur, Maman Sami, to see if she could borrow some money. Though Maman Sani didn’t have any money to lend, her husband, who overheard their conversation from inside the house, became interested in Manasseh’s predicament.
Maman Sani’s husband, who runs a provision shop in Jeka Da Fari, kindly gave the shop keys to one of his children. He instructed the child to fetch a bowl of rice, a small bottle of palm oil, and some Maggi cubes and bring them to Manasseh.
Grateful for the assistance, Manasseh expressed her thanks to both Maman Sani and her husband. With a smile on her face, she followed their child to the shop to collect the items.
“We are all human beings, and in times of need like this, we should be there for one another. Despite our religious differences, I believe that Christmas is about spreading joy. If I can contribute to someone’s happiness, then I have fulfilled the true spirit of the season,” Maman Sani’s husband said, as recounted by Manasseh.
She added, “I am touched by the generosity that this family has shown me. It has made me believe that even in the most difficult times, there are people who lend a helping hand without expecting anything in return.”
This act of kindness reignited Manasseh’s hope of sharing a meal with her children on Christmas day. For her, this small gesture turned out to be a beautiful moment filled with excitement and gratitude.