Our last two days in Garbagal have been very interesting and sweet.
Our last two days in Garbagal have been very interesting and sweet. First of all, we’ve finished drilling the four boreholes; we’re waiting now for the masons to do the casting of the cement pads and drinking troughs before taking off tomorrow. So that is good.
But three interesting things took place yesterday and today that I want to tell you about!
A security meeting
Camels at the drill site
Visiting and building the Garbagal school
The security meeting.
Garbagal has two problems: farm encroachment and foreign herds coming through during rainy season and eating all the grass. We had met with the elders of the reserve and taken the ten names they gave us of men who would guard the reserve, and planned to take the list to the Chairman of the Local Government, as previously instructed. But lo and behold, the day after we took these names, about seven uniformed and armed vigilantes came to see us, claiming that THEY were the reserve vigilantes and asking why their names were not on that list! So our police, Sargent Mohmoh and Saidu Usman called a meeting of the elders, the people they’d given us as vigilantes and these new vigilantes who’d shown up.
Yesterday we all gathered under the chief’s tree, about fifty people in all. Then the uniformed and armed vigilantes showed up….shooting their guns! Man…I thought there was going to be a war! Our police immediately took control of the situation, ordered those men to drop their weapons and come sit down with the rest of the group. Which they did, thank God.
The truth came out. Those uniformed men were vigilantes, true, but not of this grazing reserve! They were in charge of the local government! So, to keep the peace we suggested adding five of their names to the ten we’d been given, making fifteen vigilantes under one commander. They were all happy with this. I took the list to the Local Gov’t chairman today, requesting that he support their work with a small salary so that they would be encouraged to guard the reserve.
Camels at the drill site.
It was simply delightful to have a herd of a hundred and fifty camels grazing quietly on the thorn trees at our grazing site. I spent all afternoon just wandering around among them, sort of enchanted by being so close to these gentle giants. I found out that the herd belongs to some man from the Republic of Niger; come down into Nigeria looking for food and water. The man’s daughter was following the herd – just a little girl of about eight years of age as well as a young herdsman who looked to be about fourteen.
Building and visiting the Garbagal school.
The Nomadic instructor was around today, probably because he knew WE were around! I asked him if I could just sit and watch the class – of course he agreed. But it was so rudimentary. All he did was have the children repeat the numbers one to ten over and over, and repeat the letters A through E! That was it! And he said he’s been teaching here for five years! And this is all the children know???
I asked him if he taught math, English, biology….He said no. I said, if he could show the children the practical uses of numbers and letters, they would learn faster. I asked if I could show what I meant.
I told the children FOUR of them should come up….which they did! Then THREE more…which they did! Then asked how many were there now, all together. They said seven! So, FOUR plus THREE equals SEVEN! That’s math, I told them! Then I asked, how many more to make TEN children? They said THREE! We all clapped for them! Then we did subtraction the same way. They caught on very fast. Fulani children are very smart – just need proper teaching.
I asked the teacher if he’s taught them to write their names. He said no. With him translating, I told them that the letters of the alphabet they were learning are used to make words, like cow, tree, house, and, their names! Would they like to learn how to write their names? Yes! Yes! So the teacher brought out paper on which he wrote each child’s name, gave it to him or her with the assignment to copy their name at least three times before coming to school tomorrow.
The teacher said he’d be able to use such techniques when there were more than just him alone to handle the children…..But honestly speaking, I’m not sure he himself was ever properly taught. After five years, certainly the children should all be capable of reading and writing. Pray we’ll find teachers that will make a difference in the lives of these Fulani children.
I had the greatest idea just now, a sort of vision, looking around at the many small thorn trees in the area. You know what it is? A child’s swing, in every tree! Can you picture a child swinging on a simple, rope and board swing, from each of these trees! It would be so cheap, and easy to accomplish, and so much fun for the kids! Let’s do it!
We’ve begun building the Garbagal school. Today we bought cement blocks for the foundation, local blocks for the walls, bags of cement, loads of sand and gravel, iron rod and pipe. Masons have already poured the foundation. We’re waiting now for the blocks to arrive. So excited to see this dream come true!
Tomorrow, if all goes well, we’ll leave Garbagal and head first to Kano to buy more of the beautiful, hand woven cloth from the Kano dye pits, then go to Bobi reserve to set those pumps.