Recently, the news about one of my staffer’s wedding plans came to me with much excitement. The exhilaration brought the reminiscence of how she joined our organization about 6years ago. I had barely settled down in my office one morning when my administrative staffer breezed in to say I had a visitor. “Who is it please?” I enquired. “Her name is Koko” (not real name) he replied. “I neither knew any Koko, nor had I any appointment with anyone bearing such a name. Please ask if we had met before and specifically where?” He returned almost immediately that she said she hadn’t met me anywhere; she just wants to see me unofficially.

Well, giving her the benefit of doubt, I said he should let her in. The memory of what adorned her is still fresh; a cream blouse on a blue jean that may well be from one of those bend-down boutiques’-used garments shops. She looked like someone in her early 20s, her tomato face quite conspicuous and her accent like a typical Jos-ite (Indigenes of Plateau State, Nigeria).

“Sit down please” I said, “Ehen,”- meaning I am all ears.

“Good morning sir, my name is Koko, I am from Plateau State. I came here to visit my mother’s friend. After 3days of idling at home, I am already getting bored so I thought of going round to find something that I can lay my hands on in order to keep myself busy.” The last statement captivated me the most. “Okay, but who directed you here?” I enquired. “No one; while passing, I raised my head to find some young people doing something on a table, and had a brainwave that I should climb up to put up a request.” “That’s interesting young lady, you mean no one directed you here; you just wanted to avoid boredom?” I continued, “I don’t have any job for you now, but I want to say that I’m impressed by this step, and I want to assure you that, as you keep to this determination by knocking at two or three more doors, one will eventually open.”  “Thank you sir,” she quipped, as she made to leave.

Later that evening, I got a mail from one of our partners directing me to scout for someone that will be responsible for referring clients to certain facilities for treatment and I Immediately remembered Koko. That evening, I invited her over, and my wife and I quizzed her along job experiences and job preference. She had no job experience whatsoever, but was willing to do just anything. “Okay, would you like to do filing work; just arranging folders according to some criteria. The pay isn’t much, just five thousand Naira (N5,000) monthly. We expect a feedback before 10am tomorrow.” The proposed transportation stipend of N5,000 was actually a test to prove whether she needed to keep herself busy or the bottom line was money, for my wife and I had already resolved to pay N10, 000 for a start. Wise enough, she called the following day to say she was interested.

When she began, both her brain and brawn did not gel. But we didn’t bother much since the job required more of the brawn. Barely a week later however, one of our International Partners (IP) informed us to employ a referral officer and the person would be placed on a monthly stipend over six times higher than the stipend we had proposed to pay this young lady. What a coincidence I thought, yet I had avalanche of doubts about her capability to function in that capacity. I finally gave her the benefits of the doubt that she will man-up sooner than later. For months it was obvious she was struggling. I could see keen interest but the brain-power was far behind. Every time our partner groused over the delay in sending report or certain elementary mistakes in her report, it will send my wife and I into the lane of scouting for a replacement. But then, our action ended in bowing to her zeal for the work, and we would resolve to rather take the bullets and let her be.

It was not until about a year later that we started to notice dramatic growth in her. Nevertheless, the pressure to replace her mounted inexorably, obviously from the fact that the demands on the job had also heightened. To make matters worse our relationship with our supervisor (from our partners end) got into a tangle, and to her, it appears, the best way to get back at us was to expose the inept of this lady by ensuring she first did presentation during trainings, rather than letting others present before her which could give Koko room to quickly fix any lapses. Any smidgeon error by Koko was quickly trumpeted whereas areas that should have been commended were glossed over. The storm in a tea cup went on for days until staff from other organizations began to notice it. The silver lining for Koko fortunately was the bedridden of the supervisor. By the time the supervisor had convalesced fully, Koko’s capacity had improved dramatically.

Today, Koko can stand tall among her contemporaries; transformed not only in terms of work but also in physical appearance. This new status and appearance must have performed the magic of pulling a young man so promising to ask her hand in marriage, as the maxim goes: like begets like.  This will never have been possible in her former state of looking battered and shattered the first time in my office. Indeed today, the privilege of learning on the job has done her much good. Friends, step out, go for it, keep learning and never quit; for destiny has got your name written on it!