By Marvelous Fatu
When Jacob Ocheme gained admission to study Theater Arts at Benue State University, Makurdi, he was just a 20-year-old struggling with life on campus until he met a guardian angel.
At that time, his family faced financial challenges, and every day was a battle to put food on the table for him and his younger sister, Goodness, who was also a student at the same university.
While they both lived through hunger, Ocheme was always worried for Goodness. He was her big brother and felt responsible for her.
“I felt helpless those times. At one point, all we had were garri and raw rice. No spice, fish or anything. Before going to lectures, we would boil the rice and eat it with red oil (morning and night). When the rice finished, we settled for garri and even started borrowing from our neighbours. It was bad. My sister would wet her pillows with tears. We were suffering. We emaciated drastically…I knew I had to do something to ease our way out of suffering.”
The desperation drove Ocheme to seek employment on campus. He knew about the “Labor Market,” the popular name for the school’s cyber cafe market, where students often found part-time work.
Ocheme, being computer literate, applied for various positions to do research and assist in photocopy shops. But each door closed before him, as opportunities were scarce and there were intense.
“I didn’t get good offers at the labour market. There was strong competition, and people wanted very experienced persons. It continued that way until someone gave me a man’s contact,”
At that time, Ocheme was beginning to lose hope when he got into contact with a young man. The man, Akase Terva, owned a shop in the labour market.
Ocheme called the man, and a meeting was scheduled.
“I was nervous and needed a job desperately. I wasn’t ready to be turned down. My sister and I prayed for a favour.” He told Prime Progress
Ocheme claimed that the meeting was a brief one. He got more than he imagined. Rather than a job that pays monthly, he got a partnership offer.
It was a lifeline opportunity he hadn’t expected. He was grateful and agreed to Akase’s proposition.
Ocheme was to have his own space in the shop, research for his clients, make assignments, print, and so on, for free while paying only for the A4 papers he would use for his customers.
Akase didn’t stop there. He frequently gave Ocheme and Goodness money for feeding.
“My younger sister came often from her lectures to see me at work, and Mr Akase would ask if we had eaten for the day. When we shook our heads, he would remove money from his wallet and give us money to buy lunch. Sometimes, he gave us enough to buy foodstuffs,”
The siblings survived Akase’s kindness until Ocheme found his bearing in the workspace.
As days turned into weeks, the bond between Ocheme and Akase grew stronger. Akase saw potential in him and took it upon himself to mentor him. He taught Ocheme valuable business skills, from doing academic research to managing customer relations. Under Akase’s guidance, Ocheme’s confidence and knowledge flourished.
While Ocheme’s family struggled financially, Akase’s kindness had significantly lightened the burden. With Akase’s continued support and his income, Ocheme and Goodness could afford their basic needs and focused on their education.
Ocheme said the journey had been challenging, but he had discovered that kindness could come from the most unexpected places. Akase, a young man he barely knew, had turned out to be the guardian angel he needed during his most challenging times.