At the end of last year, I repitched an idea I had from 2015 called The BIG Give. In short, I proposed telling someone's story over the course of an entire year. A BIG ask. A BIG give. A truly vulnerable place to be.
The call for entries fell on receptive ears and I was humbled to read heartfelt emails from people detailing why I should document their lives. In the end, I chose the very first submission by Niger Alabi, a single mom in Baltimore city.
'I became a mother at the age of 16. Despite the odds, I completed high school with the rest of my class magna cum laude and I hold two degrees. I never let anything stop me from achieving my goals. I now have 3 beautiful children and my story is that of a mother who does it all. I work, cook, clean, help with assignments, volunteer in my community, donate to great causes, contribute to other members of my family, and I make life fun. My life is a rollercoaster but, I would not change it.'
Today we met for the first time. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we weren't sure what to expect. Niger and I greeted each other with a hug and each child shook my hand, wondering who I was and what I was about.
Over the course of almost two hours, we shared stories about our lives -- our struggles and triumphs. We discussed the project and what it might be like over the course of the year...and I think the kids warmed up to the idea of what it might be like to see me on a regular basis. I admitted to never having been to the part of town that I now found myself in. We talked about the struggles of Baltimore city, the aging infrastructure, bureaucracy, the need for funding and housing...and the importance of family.
By the time I left, I knew in my heart that this project was going to be rewarding in so many ways. We left each other with handshakes and hugs and excitement for what's to come.
I hope you'll continue to follow along as I document the Alabi family...