It’s been another wonderful day on Bobi reserve!
It’s been another wonderful day on Bobi reserve. We found water in an area a few meters from the first failed site in Kilishi, then moved on to the second site in Old Man’s village, next to the ‘Big Dam’. We were to meet Aliyu there at 8 am, and were on time, American time that is! But Aliyu was running on African time and didn’t show up until after 11!
At 8, when Aliyu didn’t show up, I suggested we take a walk around the dam, so with the Old Man, Sarkin Fulani Ahijo and several others we took a very nice stroll around this beautiful, shallow dam, enjoying the water lilies, egrets, numerous cattle and sheep, and children who were splashing and diving in the cool water. We clambered up one steep hill with rocky outcrops and deep caves where Old Man said a huge python has lived for as long as he can remember. It’s enormously long, he told us, and has taken goats and small cattle. It comes out only in the early morning and evenings, when few people are around. We peered into the caves, but didn’t see the python.
When we returned to Old Man’s village, the two engineers we’d hired to repair the two broken boreholes pulled up right behind us on their motorbike, so we followed them to the two sites and offloaded the pipes, pumps and various other equipment we’d purchased yesterday in Kontagora for the repairs. We’ll go back when they’ve finished work, to confirm that the pumps are functioning again.
Back again in Old Man’s village, we were met with rejoicing, as Aliyu had shown up, (finally,) and found water, and another successful borehole had been completed.
Old Man tells us that the primary school we hope to build in his area already has been given a name! Big Dam Primary School! I can’t imagine the huge number of children who will attend this school, and only hope and pray we can find enough teachers for them all!
These children are SO PRECIOUS! They are sweet, loving, outgoing, curious, bright and as numerous as grains of sand on the seashore! There are THOUSANDS of children on this reserve, and not ONE of them has ever been to school!
There's one story one of our ICCM directors told; I can't recall if it was Ann Van Valin or Linda Adams. The story is of a man walking down to the seashore and seeing a small boy trying to rescue jellyfish which had been stranded, by the millions, on the shore. The little boy would put as many jellyfish as possible into his shirt, then rush to the ocean and thrown them back into the waves. He would then rush back to the beach, collect more, rush to the water and throw them in.
The man approached the small child and said to him, "Son, there are millions of jellyfish stranded on this beach. You cannot save them all!"
"No," answered the child, "but I can save this one, (throwing one into the water,) and this one, (throwing in another,) and this one, (throwing in a third.)"
These children are my joy. Seeing them in school and finally learning to read and write will be my greatest joy! Imagine that NONE of these boys and girls has ever seen a map of the world, has no clue that others besides them live on this planet. Not one child has ever seen a picture book about dolphins or whales, or read Dr. Seuss. They’ve never colored a picture, put together a puzzle, played with blocks.
Let me tell you about these Fulani on Bobi reserve. It’s like they live in a world of their own, a distant planet, far removed from Earth. They do not speak any English, not even broken English, they have NEVER seen another white person other than me. Some of them did see Chester and Bill when they were here, but that is all! In our drives around the reserve, when the people see me, they run away in fear! But the children warm up to me quickly, and very soon almost smother me with their attention!
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we can successfully keep teachers on these remote reserves, and have come up with a plan! I want the Fulani leaders to build an actual small village for the teachers. A teachers’ compound, where all of the teachers from the reserve can live together, socialize, feel comfortable and among friends. You see, many Nigerians greatly fear the Fulani, as their culture, language and their religion are so different from their own, and so teachers are afraid to come into the reserves and work with them. They don’t stay. That’s the main reason Nomadic Schools have failed. So, if we give the teachers a little place of their own where they can live with other English speakers and those of their own culture, then we have a better chance of keeping them on. I asked the leaders here in Bobi if they would build such a compound, and a small church where the teachers could pray. They said yes, certainly, they would do that! So, we’re going to have a Christian church on this reserve! I will move carefully towards the same arrangement in Kachia and Garbagal.
We confirmed the repairs of the two boreholes last evening, and are now in Sarkin Fulani Ahijo’s village, drilling his borehole.
Signing off for now!