Update on the Reserves
At 6 am this morning at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, we waved goodbye to our friend Terry McGill of Sister Schools as he started on his long journey back to Seattle, Washington and home!
Terry, who with his wife Melissa have, for over thirty years, supplied books and supplies to Ugandan school children, came to Nigeria on August 22nd and for the next eight days visited grazing reserve schools in Jigawa, Kaduna and Niger States with the intention of supplying materials to these children as well!
Garbagal Reserve in Jigawa State
When Terry arrived on Tuesday the 22nd, Shane and I, with our staff of five Nigerians, (two police, two drivers and a cook!) met him at the airport with our two vehicles packed and ready for the eight-day journey. We immediately set out for Jigawa State, a trip that took eleven grueling hours but ended with a nice welcome from reserve leaders and the local government Head of Department for Agriculture. We were given rooms in the government guesthouse, (a lovely building but poorly maintained and surrounded by a swamp,) where Terry and I pitched tents inside our rooms and Shane and one policeman opted to sleep in the pick-up! The rest of the Nigerians stayed together in one big room and used insecticide to protect themselves against the mosquitoes, frogs and birds that infested the swampy yard.
On the reserve, at the new school building donated by Dr. Don and Georgia Anderson of Marysville, Washington, we met with parents and children and Terry explained his interest in supporting the school with paper, pencils and pens, school books and library books. The parents were so appreciative and excited and look forward to the school’s opening later this month.
Kachia Reserve in Kaduna State
It took us several long hours on horrible roads to reach the town of Crossing, gateway to the Kachia reserve in Kaduna State, but our spirits lifted when we saw the Ardo of Kachia waiting for us by the side of the road. The Ardo, Fulani leader of the Kachia reserve, had come to meet us in Crossing to show us an alternate road into the reserve as our usual way was impassable due to the heavy rains. We set up camp at Wuro Nyako, a large compound housing a primary school, computer school and sewing, bee-keeping and shea butter projects. (Shea butter is a fat extracted from the African shea tree and used to make a rich, cosmetic lotion.)
How do I describe the school situation on Kachia reserve?
All I can do is give you the facts as given and as personally verified.
There are twenty primary schools on the reserve, of which we visited a representative seven. Here’s what we found:
- Wuro Nyako Learning Center. 607 children, 2 teachers.
- Wuro Fulbe Primary School, the first school on the reserve. 743 children, 2 teachers.
- Mbela Biradan Primary School. 120 children, 2 teachers, 2 volunteers.
- Mayo Amana Primary School. 240 children, 1 teacher.
- Tiggirde Primary School. 364 children, 1 teacher, 2 volunteers.
- Margire Primary School. 217 children, 1 teacher, 1 volunteer.
- We reached the last school so late in the day that no teachers and few children were there to meet us, and no statistics were available.
Of course, the children, even those who’ve been in school for years, can neither read nor write, so here is what we’re planning for the twenty Kachia primary schools.
Our plan is to hire a team of five qualified teachers specializing in literacy and assign four schools to each teacher. Each teacher will set up his rotational schedule with two days at each school at a time, pulling out groups of twenty children and giving intensive lessons in reading. If we can teach the children to read, all other subjects will follow easily.
Happily, in January, 2018, we’re expecting Chester and Jan Novack to come to Kachia, along with others, Chester to build earthen dams and Jan to hold workshops for the teachers, with emphasis on literacy. This intensive literacy training, with the added bonus of books and learning materials from Sister Schools, will give hope to the thousands of Kachia children.
Bobi Reserve in Niger State
The last reserve on our journey was Bobi, a delightful place filled with very friendly people and children all highly motivated to start school! The children in Bobi are more open to us and unafraid, and so we had a lot of fun talking with them, playing soccer, taking lots of pictures of their sweet faces and listening to them sing!
At Bobi we have two brand-new school buildings where these children will begin classes as soon as we can hire qualified teachers.
We spent just one day and one night in this reserve then drove back to Abuja. After dropping off our police friends at Force Headquarters and sending our drivers and cook back to Kogi State, Shane, Terry and I checked into a nice mission guesthouse run by the Evangelical Church of West Africa, or ECWA. The rooms are small, but the toilets and showers work and the water is HOT! Boy, did that shower ever feel good! We all spent a quiet day yesterday resting and regrouping, then early this morning we took Terry to the airport for his flight home.
We are very thankful to Terry and Melissa McGill and their Sister Schools Board for the effort they are making towards improving the state of our schools for Fulani children in Nigeria, and greatly look forward to Terry’s return visit in January! There’s a possibility that one or more of Sister Schools board members may accompany him! Terry plans to fly back to Nigeria at the same time as Chester and Jan Novack and the rest of us, bringing loads of books and school supplies with him!
What is next for our Schools for Africa schools? Here is the plan, with tentative dates for the work:
- September 4
- Shane and I fly to Port Harcourt to visit Mogodi Home School and the children.
- September 8
- We will visit NewPointe Community School on Ero Mountain Grazing Reserve.
- September 11
- We return to Bobi, Niger State, to interview teachers and start school. Concurrently, we will build teachers’ quarters on Bobi for the twelve teachers we expect to hire.
- September 25
- We return to Garbagal, Jigawa State, to interview teachers and start school. Here too, we will build teachers’ quarters.
- October 10
- We return to Kachia, Kaduna State, to interview teachers, build teachers’ quarters and a literacy center.
We at Schools for Africa would greatly appreciate your prayers and continued support as we face this heavy work. God has given us wide-open doors into these Fulani communities; they love us even as we love them, even as God loves them, and so we have an incredible opportunity to win them for Jesus. Pray for these Fulani families, that they will recognize their Savior, and pray for us that we will be careful and faithful as we represent Him. May all glory and honor be to His Wonderful Name.