Greetings! This is coming a little late, and we apologize for that. We’ve been busy trying to catch up on happenings back in Nigeria. The month of July was quite a productive one with moving pieces from Askira, Borno State, to Tampa, Florida. Here we go…
July 1st – 30th – Cbk girls are off for holiday in their respective homes
The end of the academic school year brought about the first summer in the U.S. for the 10 girls there. We received quite a number of offers to host the girls in various parts of the country, and if we could have, we would have rotated them. However, as is the case, we could only put them up in homes that we felt would provide the adequate social and spiritual nourishment as well as logistical arrangements they needed. To achieving this end, the Church of the Brethren (COB) was instrumental, as they provided the base for qualified families and homes that could host our girls. The link between COB and EYN which is the local church in Chibok and of the girls, dates back to almost eight decades. Both the church and Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok were built by COB missionaries in 1947. We sent them also because they needed to be with Americans who understand their pains and where they are coming from, some of whom were missionaries in Chibok. Now, they can confidently say that they have extended families across the pond. This was culminated at the COB national conference at Tampa.
July 2nd – Off to the U.S.
Our founders in Nigeria, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gadzama departed for the US, for a month long summer trip that would see them canvass the majority of the East Coast. One of the major items on the agenda was also to asses the one year experience of the ten Chibok girls currently schooling there.
July 5th – Meet with former ministers
Chibok girls meet the sagacious former Nigerian Minister for Power, Prof Nebo yesterday. Professor had spoken about social action and justice as cornerstones of our faith. He said when John the Baptist sent to inquire if Jesus was the expected Messiah, Jesus’ reply showed what important evidences of being a Christian are: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. Matt 11:5 Preaching was the last evidence Christ listed. He mentioned actions before words.
July 11th – Building new classroom blocks at EMCI School, Yola
If you recall from our last blogpost, a few weeks prior, Emmanuel Ogebe, our Nigerian American advocate, dragged his Abuja home church missions director, Aunty Regi, to Yola to visit the school at the IDP camp. We literally jumped on a plane two days after we first discussed the idea of going there. While there, Emmanuel expressed the need of tarpaulin for the school as rains were coming to Aunty Regi. However, she said that from here experience, that wouldn’t work. This week we got the sad news that the rains flooded the camp and schooling was disrupted. Shortly after, Aunty Regi called and said she was sending a team to visit the camp. Is that ok? Emmanuel said “yes”. Today July 11th) we saw pictures of them building a school. Yes. Building a school! They didn’t even know about the flooding. I can’t believe it. Thanks so much Family Worship Chapel!
July 11th – 16th – Church of the Brethren Annual Conference meets EMCI
Being that our founders, the Chibok girls, and the majority of the of IDPs from in Northern Nigeria are members of the local church, Ekklesiyar Yan´uwa a Nigeria: EYN (the Hausa translation of Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), we took on the opportunity to fellowship at the Annual Conference held in Tampa, Florida (www.brethren.org/ac/2015/).
Representatives of COB from all over the world were present, including our very own EYN Jos’ Women’s Fellowship (Zumunta’r Mata), 10 of the relocated escaped Chibok girls, and three of our founders, Mr. and Mrs. Gadzama and Emmanuel Ogebe. Also present was the EYN president, Rev. Dr. Samuel Dali, a close friend of EMCI and also an advocate for justice and equality from and for Northern Nigeria.
The Women’s Fellowship of EYN toured most of the COB Churches in U.S. while they were there. Our 10 Chibok girls on summer break , hosted by COB families toured with their ‘mothers’ from Nigeria.
Mrs. Gadzama spoke to the audience, presenting the dire situation of the many displaced members, pastors, and congregation, receiving a standing applause when she was through.
The Gadzama also shared their 16 month journey with the Chibok girls and the EMCI IDP schools. They also called for the recovery of all abducted people, especially, the 219 Chibok girls and for God to cause a change of heart among the Boko Haram insurgents.
Towards the end of the conference, the entire EMCI staff, as well as beneficiaries (the 10 Chibok girls present) were called on stage and a congregational prayer led by the senior pastors was held for them by over 2,000 participants. It was truly a beautiful moment.
Videos from the conference can be seen here: www.livestream.com/livingstreamcob/AC2015/videos
Following the conference, the EMCI family took a trip to the aquatic zoo and down to the marina, thanks to Port Tampa for a wonderful excursion to a WW2 War ship – Victory.
July 17th(ish) – First Chibok school girl escapee’s father arrives the US
“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” We witnessed a wholehearted belief in this statement when one of the fathers of the girls in the States was able to visit with his daughter, for the first time since she left Chibok in the Fall of 2014.
When this GGSS Chibok escapee, arrived our “transition and orientation” home in Jos last September, we didn’t know how mature both educationally and socially she was. It was as if she had spent her entire life in the big city. Much of that growth and appreciation of the world outside of her small town that the exhibited came from her father.
From the moment he left his farm in the village, to his arrival at Capitol Hill, various obstacles that would have deterred many others came his way. Yet, he kept the same calm, hopeful demeanor up till his arrival at the residence where his daughter was staying.
We had hoped he would’ve been able to attend the COB annual conference, but due to some logistical delays, he wasn’t able to make it. However, his trip was not in vain as he was a father-like symbol to the girls while there, and was also present at the following week’s rally in D.C. …
July 20th week – Buhari @ capitol hill and rally with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson
On Tuesday, July 21st, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari met with the U.S. congress at Capitol Hill; the EMCI family in the region was on hand to rally for the cause. Not only were they present, but our cause was further advocated by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson representing Florida’s 24th District.
We already had an established contact with the Congresswoman when in conjunction with 5 other Congresswomen, she hosted a press conference for the escaped girls schooling in the U.S. to mark the one year date of their abduction on April 15th.
July 20th week – Girls’ summer trip back home
To give some context behind this event, last year when we initially got the opportunity to aid the transition of escaped Chibok Schoolgirls to the U.S., only four girls and their families were bold enough to take the step. These four girls were the first to go in September, and since then, only one had made a trip back to Nigeria. Much like their American counterpart students, we felt the importance of them being able to visit with their families since they had been away for almost a year.
Three girls came home and visited with some of the family they left behind. Tragically, shortly after she had departed to the U.S., one of the girls lost her father to illness and one of her brothers after the village he was at in was attacked by Boko Haram. The fourth girl who was among the first batch of departures, became orphaned while she was away. She did not travel back this summer.
The Lord bless the souls of the faithful departed
Aug 3rd – Back from the U.S.
Following their month long trip to the States, Mr. and Mrs. Gadzama returned to Abuja in the first week of August. However, the mission didn’t stop there…
Aug 4th – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson in Abuja
On August 4th, the official Bring Back our Girls campaign organization held a rally at the Unity Fountain in Abuja. Representing Florida’s 24th district was Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson yet again to advocate the cause.
Currently, there is one Chibok schoolgirl escapee residing in Nigeria who has not been able to attain a visa to travel to the U.S. in furtherance of her education. This saga has been ongoing since November last year. When the congresswoman heard her story, she stood by her side throughout the rally. We continue to hope and pray that she will be granted the visa in the near future to enable her to be reunited with her sisters overseas and continue her educational ambitions.
Thank you for taking the time to follow us on this lifelong journey.
Till next time,