I was tired of waiting for a breakthrough. All I wanted was to leave the girls as fast as I could. After going for two days without a bath and good food, I decided to send an email to some friends with the hope that one day one of them will see it and invite me to their house to live. I put down my school bag with the few clothes I had in it on the floor and started sending emails. I had over 20 email addresses and only 3 went through. The rest came back undelivered. (Way back in 2004, a lot of the email addresses we gave our friends were made up).
Exhausted and hungry, I logged out placed my head on the table and slept off. I woke up at 4am to use the rest room and the cyber café was full. I saw a lot of young people typing very fast and a few were on the phone. I wondered what they all were doing in the café at that time of the morning. I wanted to pick my school bag but it was gone.
How could this happen to me? I haven’t hurt anyone, at least not yet. I remember sitting on that chair and breaking into tears. I was upset at God and upset at Dad for leaving this earth early. I only had a pair of jean and two T-shirts in it with a few personal items. I didn’t know whom to ask as the guy on my left had his headphones on, he was chewing gum and typing very fast. Suddenly, a young lady came to me, dropped my bag hissing away, of course, there was nothing valuable in it and she didn’t say a single word. I sat there wondering what over 30 young people were doing and some words started flying over my head.
“IP Address, IP Relay Call, Shipment, Consignment, Yahoo”
What does it all mean? I stared at them as they moved up and down the café till 5.30am and in no time, the place was empty. I stood up, picked my bag and walked out and kept wondering what happened in there.
The next day, I was back at 10:00pm to “browse all night”. I noticed the cars that were packed outside were all SUVs. How are these boys making money off the Internet I asked myself! I knew I wanted to join them from that moment on. After all, there were teams that had girls and I would definitely not be doing what the other girls were doing.
I wasn’t interested in browsing “all night”. I went there to pay for a computer space for the night in place of staying with a bunch of girls who fight and ‘curse’ every single night. After the second night, I made a few new friends and I summoned courage to ask what they all were doing there.
I was tutored about Cyber Crime, everything that happens on the computer and I learned how they all made money from the Internet. I felt like I belonged to a part of something big, this is because I got free meals each time anyone orders a meal. I got free cash each time anyone gets a “shipment”. Little did I know they were all nice to me to get me to trust them and start to make IP Relay Calls for them.
A few days after I started hanging around the café, one of the ladies walked up to me and asked that I rehearse a script to make calls that night to a potential customer abroad over the phone. I was excited and was looking forward to it. I got stuck talking to a friend in Obalende that I totally forgot about the call. When I got to the café, the place was empty and some people were hanging around outside. God spared my life!
“That’s the girl that called the police on us” a voice said out loud.
Before I knew it, the hoodlums started running after me. I ran for dear life screaming, “I didn’t do anything”. One finally caught up with me and slapped me twice. The kind of slap that makes you forget you existed. He said I should tell him who asked me to call the police to “raid” the café. I looked confused and asked what he meant by “raiding”. That was when they knew I had nothing to do with it. It was obvious that my stay at staples café was over!
Because I knew it would be easier to pay for overnight browsing and use the space to sleep every night, I decided to visit another café. To my surprise, a few of the guys from the other café escaped the raid and were at the new café to continue their business. I stayed there for a few days making calls at night to their customers. I was excited about this business because it felt better than the work the girls were doing in Obalende.
One night, I was making a call and then left to use the restroom. A few minutes later I heard screams and someone shouted “Police raid, run!” I broke the rest room window and escaped, leaving my school bag with my very few belongings. I cried the whole night knowing what happens to people when the police raids them. I thanked God for sparing my life.
I was left with no place to stay. I kept my hopes up, though, because I still had a place to go back if push comes to shove (With the girls in Obalende).
Later that night, I heard of a hostel for rent at NGN150 per day. I rushed there to secure a bunk as I was cold, smelled really bad and desperately needed a bath. When I got there, the place was filled with a lot of drug addicts, “You wan get high?” one asked me. It was a den for boys and girls ‘doing’ cocaine and weed. I had never used drugs before, but I was ready to start if that would mean staying in the house.
I remember being on my knees that night tears streaming down my face. I humbled myself before God. I was tired of EVERYTHING. I feared that I was becoming a totally different person and I wasn’t sure if that person was me. How could I even think of going into drugs, because I needed a place to live? I cried and told God. Suddenly there was such peace surrounding me, warmth that radiated through me and then I heard him. He told me to surrender ALL to Him”
What I saw and experienced, no teenager should have to go through.