Welcome to the summer update from the Education Must Continue Initiative. As we begin a new academic year, we are thankful for getting to this point; and mindful of those who didn’t make it to this point. Thousands of captives have been freed by the army but hundreds of children are dying of malnutrition.
Like our previous posts, we will touch on events and activities on the Nigerian and American sides of the ocean. We will also include prayer and request items, we added a new section,”special projects report”, and finally conclude with our media mentions for the months of July and August.
EMCI Nigeria (July)
Relocated Orphan Children – Summer holidays for all the children
In mid-July, the relocated schoolchildren in Nigeria ended their first full school year. The various schools we placed them in across central and southwestern Nigeria had different closing dates, so we had to coordinate with them as well as the pupils’ parents on when to pick them up and who would be going back home to northeastern Nigeria. The year was full of ups and downs, both for us and the schoolchildren. We had several medical cases, which were duly taken care of, some students got homesick after being away from the village for the first time in their lives, while others kept on striving ahead, achieving new heights they probably never thought they would live to see. At the end of the day, the smiles and joy shone on many faces.
Here are a few academic successes: one girl, whom we’ve nicknamed “vigilante girl” (because she was rescued from an all male, adult, local vigilante group while wielding her own rifle) has graduated from Junior Secondary School (Junior High) to Senior Secondary School (High School). At the time our team met this courageous teen keeping watch over her community from terror attacks, she explained that the last time Boko Haram came, they killed her brother. This time she was standing guard so she wouldn’t be abducted!
Another girl, Jummy, has come leaps and bounds from when she first came. Initially, she was at the bottom of the class but by the year’s end, she was in the top ten and has been promoted from JSS2 (8th grade) to JSS3 (9th grade). All our younger students in elementary and pre-elementary progressed to their next level. “Grace” a 12-year old girl who tested into Nursery 2 at the start of the year, will now be starting Primary 1 (first grade), with the opportunity to be promoted to Primary 2 (second grade) before the 2nd semester of the next school year if she keeps improving at her current pace.
Six of the twenty students who ended the year with us traveled back to the village where a certain degree of peace and stability has returned. All of them are needed at home in order to support their families in various capacities.
EMCI Lesson Centers Closing for Summer Break
Similar to their relocated counterparts, the children at the EMCI lesson centers in Adamawa and Borno states vacated for the summer in late July. Our founders, Paul and Becky traveled there for the closing ceremony and prize & award giving days. They took with them some relief items, along with sports equipment and recreational aids for extracurricular activities. We are proud of the fantastic Junior WAEC results from EMCI JSS 3 class. The top students in each class were awarded a prize, and their achievement celebrated. Perhaps the most encouraging outcome was the successful graduation of 59 senior students, the inaugural graduating class! Congratulations to these ambitious, brave souls.
Prior to the ceremony, there was a novelty athletics mini track & field meet and a friendly soccer match was played amongst the students. The looks on their faces as they were putting on their EMCI jerseys were mixed with seriousness and intent with joy and anticipation. Bare in mind, most of the kids ran and played ball barefooted! They put on a cultural dance show and at the end of it, the real winner was education; over 3,000 refugee children are being catered for at the makeshift camps and many staff and parents who are benefiting from it through the lives of their children.
- Students at home and the welfare of their families while on break
- Schoolchildren in the lesson centers; attentive minds and open hearts for learning
- For additional resources like clothing, shoes, textbooks, notebooks, writing utensils, and general educational material
- The instructors, parents, and supervisors of the lesson centers; for strength to keep pushing on
- A structure that has fallen needs to be built back up, and some of our new chairs that were in that building broke as a result. Thankfully, no one was injured or killed during the collapse of the building. We’d like for them to be repaired before school resumes
- For the government and aid agencies to help build a much brighter future for the young ones
EMCI USA (JULY)
Special Academic Recognition for One Escaped Chibok Schoolgirl
In July, one of the escaped Chibok girls in a US high school, whom we call Dee received a special letter. The letter transmitted a “particularly distinguished academic achievement” for Dee from the Member of the US Congress who represent’s the school’s district in recognition of her honor roll achievements throughout the year.
This is a wonderful achievement that D will always take with her. If you’d like to indicate your support for this young, brave soul, feel free to express it on our Facebook wall, or contact us directly through our email’s listed under the contacts section of our website. She has come a long way from a terrorist enclave in Sambisa forest to being the most award-winning student in an award-wining American school with lots of international students!
Zee’s Admission into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars
Continuing this streak of academic excellence, we are proud to say that Zee, one of our relocated girls in US College, has received the distinction of admission into the elite National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NCSC) due to her outstanding academic performance at her college.
NSCS is an honor society inviting high-achieving first- and second-year undergraduates from over 300 colleges and universities across the country, including the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Aside from the prestige of membership, Zee will have access to consideration for scholarships, networking opportunities, and other internships and discounts. This could potentially be helpful because all our college students are currently paying high international student tuition rates.
This is another amazing testament of the goodness of a God who daily loads us with benefits in the midst of the storm. Just a reminder that Z is the latest addition to us and has not been in the US 12 months yet. A week before she received this award, we were talking and she told how many college students used to visit her home and her late dad would give them money for school. She said silently to herself ” I pray someone does this for me too when I go to college.”
Has God answered this or what?
She told how when she arrived in America last fall and was given a school uniform in high school, she was sad because she knew she was ready for college. She told how when we informed her in December to try out for college, many in her school discouraged her. Students said the SAT was too hard. Teachers said she should wait and get a diploma from their school… By faith we told her and the other two girls not to try out for college after the Christmas break. They made it in by divine favor in January 2016 – barely three months after she arrived the US, thanks to an unexpected ministry donor to whom we are deeply grateful!
Does God have a plan and a time or what? Zee survived a bullet to the head and now averages a 3.82 GPA!
We share this as an encouragement that we are being answers to prayers made years ago and prayers being made now at the throne by present day martyrs. And Heaven smiled…
NSCS member, Zee, at a DC Monument
On July 5th, a day after the USA’s Independence Day, EMCI college students visited the US National Guard Museum in Washington D.C. which tells the story of the US citizen soldier from the 17th century to today. They received a private briefing from a museum curator, who explained how the museum organizes and updates its artifacts in order to continue to tell the story of the US citizen soldier as effectively as possible.
God Bless AMERICA!
EMCI Nigeria (August)
Improvement in School Results for Placement Children and Summer Homeschooling
During their summer vacation, we engaged the relocated schoolchildren with summer homeschooling. Some of these kids have never had proper in-class teachers, much less homeschooling. It has had its challenges, including domestic truancy and calibrating to lessons while on holidays, especially for the younger ones. However, education MUST continue!
We engaged several youth corps service members here in Nigeria to come 5 times a week for 4 hours of lessons. The students have been divided into secondary (Junior High and High School) and primary schools (Elementary) for a 2-month program, lasting to their final days of summer holiday.
Thus far, we’ve noticed improvements across the board, though, some students are making progress faster than their peers. One indicator of their progress has been their response to home economics and sharing of responsibilities. Initially, when they first came, one girl in particular wistfully did most of the clean up in their rooms and around the premises, while the others chatted away. Now, things are different, with each of them taking on more responsibility, leveling the workload share.
Highlighting the Accomplishments of two Boys Orphaned by BH
Each one of the over twenty schoolchildren EMCI has relocated have horror stories after going through ordeals most people never live to experience. We want to share with you the story of T&P, two orphaned brothers schooling in southwestern Nigeria, where Yoruba is the main language spoken, not Hausa which is the predominant language in northern Nigeria. A few years ago, BH attacked their town, and their parents were killed in the onslaught; the boys witnessed as the terrorists executed their mother in their home.
Fast forward two and half years and now, both boys are in high school. The younger brother is on the verge of starting his final year, SS3. The older brother is starting his junior year, SS2. T is celebrating P’s outstanding performance, saying that he couldn’t be prouder of him.
The two boys spent a couple days with us before returning home to the village for the remainder of the summer.
A Chibok Mother’s Reaction to the August 14th Video Released by BH
On August 14, 2016 terror group Boko Haram released a ransom video of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls exactly 28 months after they were taken. Esther Yakubu’s daughter made a direct personal appeal to her mother for help. The day before Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria, heavily armed anti-riot police blocked Esther and her group from marching to the presidential villa to present her daughter’s message from the ransom video. This is Esther’s message to the government and to her captive daughter: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcGAF_0Sk-Xzh7h0P26K5Kw
Preparations for School Resumption in Mid-September
As we write this post, the relocated school children have been out of school now for almost a month and a half. Their various schools will have different resumption dates and requirements. We want to take this time to say a special THANK YOU to these institutions for the scholarships, discounts, and numerous efforts made for our vulnerable schoolchildren.
COB Missionaries from the US’ Visitation and Interaction
In mid-August, a team of a dozen or so missionaries and ex-patriots from Church of the Brethren Headquarters in the US embarked on a 2-week work-trip to Nigeria. While here, they traveled to the EYN/COB headquarters and Bible School which is currently being rebuilt after it was attacked by BH almost 2 years ago. EYN church has lost over 10,000 members to Boko Haram terrorism.
“It’s one thing to hear about the insurgency in another country; even to communicate with people on the ground there and to send support. It’s a whole other thing to be there and witness the chaos for ourselves.” This was a comment made by Pat K, a first-time visitor to Nigeria who ended up staying a week longer than the others.
After they returned to the “big city” from their 10-12 hour journey to the northeast, we had dinner with the COB team. We are always encouraged when we have the opportunity to fellowship with visiting brothers and sisters from abroad. They are a great encouragement in the midst of the storm.
EMCI USA (August)
Saa’s Visit with Missionary and 42-Year Veteran Educator in Nigeria, Harold
This summer, one of the Chibok girls in the US used her break from college to visit with a heroic and historic figure; Educator Harold spent 42 years in Nigeria teaching young children in school.
The retired missionary who turned 90 years old in August, told Sa’a how one of his 13 year old students told him she was going to be a medical doctor. “We all laughed”, the old man said. “A female doctor in Northern Nigeria???”.
Well, she was determined and she indeed became the First Lady Doctor in northern Nigeria!
EMC’s International Director (and son of northern Nigeria’s first female doctor – Maryamu Dija Madaki) presented Saa to Mr. Harold as a granddaughter and an example of his continuing legacy to a fourth generation.
“Thank you for your service. If you hadn’t done what you did for my mum, I wouldn’t be serving others today,” he said.
EMC joins his family in wishing him a happy and blessed 90th birthday and thank him for his service to God and humanity and the development of education in Nigeria.
Special Projects Report
EMCI focuses on educating school-age victims of terrorism. However in special circumstances we provide assistance to adult victims too.
“Timo” is a young adult victim of Boko Haram. Already crippled before his abduction during the Christmas holiday some years ago, he was in the terrorist camp before his daring escape during a thunderstorm 8 months later. Timo survived snakes and other perils in the forest before making it out alive 5 days later. He has returned to school to school to get an education and has no support from anyone. His mum is a refugee in another country. EMCI and PLEA supported him with a laptop and a friend of EMC in South Africa paid for his school fee for this semester.
Ruth is a widow whose husband was killed by the terrorists in front of her and her baby. A year later, the terrorists killed her uncle again in front of her. She has returned to school to get an education. EMC and PLEA supported her with a laptop.
David had his slit throat by Boko Haram. He survived 14 hours till he got medical attention. During that time, even as he bled profusely, he struggled to get to the homes of his neigbors to warn them to flee the terrorists. He has gone back to complete his final year of school which was interrupted by the attack. EMCI helped him with medical attention for ruptured stitches on his throat through a kind gift from a friend in Texas.
Special gifts from friends and readers like you help us to extend support to these fabulous heroes.
Summer Progress and Preparation to Return to School for Three College Girls and two High School Seniors
The girls are having a wonderful summer, some of them got to travel a bit during their time out of school.
Here is a link to a discussion held in Miami, coordinated by congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10154156105898381&id=600133380
Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson, a consistent champion for the Chibok girls in the US, once again assisted some of the girls with getting back to school supplies.
- For the church, esepecially EYN/COB to be strengthened to be better able to respond to future attacks
- Shipment of relief goods to be cleared and delivered to intended recipients in one piece and in a timely manner as many IDPs are dying daily of malnutrition
- For the abducted Chibok girls and many other women and children still in captivity, that they will be reunited with their families before the year runs out and that God will divinely arrange not only for their freedom, but for authentic comfort, consolation, counseling, restoration and healing for any who escape
- Resources for the college girls in the US. Their annual need now exceeds $120,000 and we have several more years to go.
Media Mentions for Summer 2016
Education: NGO Graduates 59 IDPs In Yola (The Leadership Newspaper) Aug 1, 2016 – http://leadership.ng/news/544127/education-ngo-graduates-59-idps-in-yola
New ‘Proof of Life’ Video Shows Dozens of Kidnapped Chibok Girls – http://www.voanews.com/a/boko-haram-some-abducted-chibok-girls-killed-in-air-strikes/3463613.html
Emma interview with CNN Aug 16th 2016 – http://www.snappytv.com/tc/2610718
Glob Trot: John Kerry heads to Nigeria Aug 22nd 2016 – https://world.wng.org/2016/08/globe_trot_john_kerry_heads_to_nigeria
Girls fight back against Boko Haram by getting an education Aug 29th 2016 – http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article98547372.html
How a Nigerian schoolgirl escaped from her Boko Haram kidnappers Aug 29th 2016 – http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article98730827.html
Mother of abducted girl pleads for help Aug 30th 2016 – http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2016/08/30/nigeria-chibok-missing-girls-mother-demands-intv.cnn
Facing Terror and Destruction, Some Stand Up for Freedom Aug 30th 2016 – https://medium.com/@cvirgin/facing-terror-and-destruction-some-stand-up-for-freedom-19edd9ff785a#.8o5zy9o1v
Girls fight back against Boko Haram by getting an education Aug 31st 2016 – http://www.guardiannewsusa.com/girls-fight-back-boko-haram-getting-education/
Hello, and welcome to our latest blog update for the months of May and June, 2016. We were so busy with lots of travel and schools letting out, we decided to combine our activities for the previous two months into one newsletter. A couple new additions; as usual, the end of this post will include media mentions for the period (we encourage you to check these out), and we are also creating a “sponsorship” section with details on how you can help contribute to the life of one of the many IDP children from Northeastern Nigeria.
Without further ado, let’s get to it…
Update on the Placement/Relocation Program
Our founders, Paul and Rebecca traveled to the U.S. in May. Meanwhile, back in Nigeria, our many relocated students continued to strive ahead.
The schoolchildren placed in the various schools in Nigeria came home on separate occasions for mid-term breaks. Their orientation to the big city and new environment continues to progress, even though we had some individual challenges with some of them. Several traveled back to their villages in the dangerous northeast to see their families during this time.
May 27th is celebrated as Children’s Day in Nigeria. On that weekend, EMCI staff visited with one of the school’s, and had a picnic with the 9 children we have there.
Update on Northeast Lesson Centers
Over in the Northeast, our lesson centers continue to make progress, as beacons of light in their communities. Currently, over 2,000 pupils attend the Borno center, while the Adamawa center has close to 1,000. An interview with the principal at the Adamawa site yielded the following:
“Much improvement has been witnessed in the overall climate of the center after the International Rescue Organization created skills acquisition workshops. These include manual activities like tailoring, shoe-making, and other gainful trade skills.”
“Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic relief and development organization also came and made two toilet facilities as well as dug a bore-hole for the center.” (Some of you readers may not understand the significance of such acts, but putting it in the context of the displaced victims, it means much better hygiene, better disease control and more access to water, to mention a few.)
“Then, we also entered in a joint project with American University of Nigeria to create TELA, technology assisted learning for all. Basically, children from ages 16 and upward are taken and given books and radios to facilitate learning. Last month (May), the top 24 students were taken to AUN to be further assessed. At the end of June, they will return to further reassess them as part of a research project being conducted by the University.”
SPONSOR A SERVICE
When his disciples were sending the children away, our Lord stopped them, saying “let the little children come to me.” Here is your opportunity to contribute to the life of one of these little victims of insurgency in Northeastern Nigeria.
– 3 meals a day for a week costs (₦3,500 or $13)
Update on US School Girls
EMCI’s Girls Study Abroad Project successfully concluded its second academic year this year.
Update on the Three College Girls
Our three college students are making rapid progress through their programs. One excelled on her writing evaluation, which placed her into a higher level program, another placed in the top five in her class, which exempted her from her final exam, and a third continues to hone her writing skills and to receive praise from her professor as her work is used as a model for the entire class.
Emma Ogebe our international director and the girls traveled to New York City to experience Broadway. Later that weekend, at a dinner, Emma remarked to the hosts how the previous day was the anniversary of the day terrorists murdered Zee’s pastor dad in front of her. Looking quizzically: “is today the 14th?” she asked.
STATEMENT BY SAA – ESCAPED CHIBOK SCHOOLGIRL – ON THE ESCAPE OF ONE OF HER ABDUCTED CLASSMATES
On Tuesday, May 17th, the first abducted Chibok schoolgirl to escape from Boko Haram in over two years ago was found. Amina Alli was discovered in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno state by civilian vigilantes.
Sa’a, an escaped Chibok schoolgirl who is currently attending college in the US courtesy of the Education Must Continue Initiative Charity, released the following statement by text from class on May 18th:
“That’s wonderful, and since she’s found it will be nice if she can tell where the other girls are and all the information about what’s going on with them there!”
This picture was taken in Abuja in April a week after the 2nd anniversary of the Chibok abductions.
People gathered at the BBOG meeting point by the Abuja fountain awaiting US ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers.
Everyone each picked a placard bearing the name of one of the 219 abducted girls.
Our International Director Emmanuel Ogebe picked a placard for missing girl #127. Guess what her name was?
Look at the picture and see for yourself.
Founders Visit to High Schools.
EMCI’s founders, Paul and Becky Gadzama together with our International Director and Educational Advisor, visited the high schools where the escaped Chibok girls are attending to interact and appreciate them. The schools were satisfied with the progress of most of the girls. They had dinner with some of the host parents and the EMCI team.
EMCI gave the 9 high schoolers who were not graduating after their two year sojourn in the US options for continuing education and renewing their student visas to choose from. Ultimately, two of the 9 girls decided to remain under the academic program of EMCI in our approved academic centers of excellence while 7 dropped out and reportedly went to a certification summer course (GED) initiated by the Nigerian embassy. Five of the seven had just completed middle school.
Summer Preparations for Placement/Relocation Program
As the summer holidays approach (yes, Nigerian school children go on break about a month and a half after their American counterparts), we are preparing to host some of the younger ones in central Nigeria, while the others will be going back to their hometowns.
The end of the month brought about another visitation day at the school where we have 9 children. EMCI’s resources guy, Heriju, took some provisions, including bags of corn, gari, shoes, notebooks, torch lights, and other day-to-day supplies to the school and had a small picnic with them. The children were quite excited; some were already calculating what they could save and what they could consume.
Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association Program
The Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA) was established in 1982 as a networking association and fellowship forum for the church and missions movement in Nigeria. From June 8th to 10th, NEMA hosted a “Tribes Around Lake Chad Consultation” program, themed Re-Engaging the North-East. Many of the participants were key stakeholders in the rebuilding of the Northeast program; various NGOs, churches, individuals, and EMCI were among the invited guests. Paul Gadzama attended the program, contributing the educational dimension of the project of re-engaging the many displaced victims of the insurgency in the Northeast.
Founders Journey to Northeast with Church of the Brethren
Paul (our Nigerian National Director) traveled to the Northeast with a couple Church of the Brethren staff for another visit to the lesson centers there. They were taken around each center meeting with staff and other stakeholders in the area to support them and to gain insights into some of their individual and collective needs. Relief items and some medical kits were donated to the health services staff there as well.
In conjunction with the CoB, we are seeking support for our displaced kids. EMCI’s desire is to have some lunch feeding for the 2000 kids at the EMCI school in Borno and perhaps elsewhere.
Efforts to Set Up Humanitarian Assistance
EMCI is currently working to step up our humanitarian assistance to vulnerable victims. A relief food shipment from the US arrived late June. Let us know if you want to help us get urgent food supplies to children in need. You can save lives, literally! The media reports that 21 people are dying daily in one of the refugee camps we are going to.
US High School Students Earn Honors!
One of our escaped Chibok Schoolgirls received recognition from her school for her outstanding work in the classroom. She received the music instruction award as well as the most improved ESL reading award. In addition, she also received recognition from EMCI regarding the successful completion of the academic year as well as the launch of her Summer English Language Institute Program (College Preparation).
LAURELS FOR ESCAPED CHIBOK GIRL
One of the escaped Chibok schoolgirls won eight awards at her school’s prize giving day taking home the highest single number of awards in the entire school!
The awards include:
* Top student-ESL Science
• Most dedicated – ESL Reading
• Outstanding Achievement in Math
• Excellence in Economics
• Excellence in ESL Bible
• The Sir Isaac Newton Award in Physics
• Most hardworking in ESL History
• Academic Excellence – ESL Grammar
Her awards made her the highest awards recipient at her school which has citizens of over 30 countries in attendance. Her school had also revived a US president’s award for academic excellence – the first such institution to garner this prestigious award in the history of the US.
EMC’s award-winning student received a recognition from the congressperson for her outstanding performance within the constituency.
The school is generously providing authentic full scholarships for the next full academic year as the students complete their college preparation and advance to higher education. They have not and do not intend to do any fundraising in order to meet their scholarship promises to us. We are especially grateful for the team of qualified educators and administrators who do continue to invest into the lives of the EMCI students with such excellence, grace, and professionalism. We are also grateful for the professionals, including physicians, dentists and eye doctors on our team who are providing full health care to our students.
Our host families are extremely compassionate, thoughtful, reputable, and highly educated moms, dads and grandparents, who are uniquely qualified and consider it a special calling to love and care for our students during their time in the US. One evening of particular blessing included the Mother of one of their still missing Chibok classmates encouraging and praying over our students.
We want to say a special “thank you” to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative for the efforts they made to making this journey a success.
This is how the US Heritage Foundation publicly introduced Becky during an event on Nigerian issues (after referring to the challenges in Nigeria):
US Senate Chaplain
The climax of the trip to the US was the opportunity to speak and pray with the United States Senate Chaplain. The US Senate Chaplain officially opens each session of the US Senate in prayer. This is an honored tradition started by one of the US founders, Benjamin Franklin. Chaplain Black is the first African American to hold this position in the Nation’s history. He shared with us that he had spoken an official prayer in the US Senate for the Chibok girls at the time of their abduction. After asking us about Nigeria, he shared his inspiring life story of overcoming many life obstacles. His mother only had a fourth grade education, but she supported his education, and he now holds three Masters Degrees and two Doctorates and was an Admiral in the United States Navy.
He prayed for us and especially for Becky, and Mary and her missing daughter right there under the US Capitol Dome and under the auspices of the highest US appointed ecclesiastical position. He shared a powerful verse from an inspiring hymn, This is My Father’s World: “This is my Father’s world: Oh, let me ne’er forget; That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”
After a beautiful time of prayer, he said that the Senate was pleased to add Nigeria to its prayer list. After he prayed for us, we felt freedom in our hearts. Indeed, it was an experience that we will forever appreciate.
Members of Congress Attend Broadway Showing of Eclipsed
On June 19th, members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended the Eclipsed show on Broadway in honor of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. This was the final showing weekend of this Tony award winning play by Actress Danai Gurira in New York.
A special guest also dedicated the night’s performance to some of the 218 still missing.
The Pages Turn; We Send a Blessing
We pray a blessing for those Nigerian students who sadly had to leave our program due to EMCI standards and those US students who were abruptly lured away from our program by government agents and their proxies.
June is two years since we met the first girls and for an all volunteer organization that is not even 2 years old, we are exceptionally grateful at how far we have come. We are grateful for all who have helped in the way and whom we have helped on their way.
The best is yet to come…
Have a great summer every one!
Media Mentions and Important Links May/June 2016
Hello, happy new month. Welcome to the latest newsletter from the Education Must Continue Initiative, for the month of April 2016. This month was quite busy for us, so without further delay, let’s get to it.
Relocated Children Home for End of Term Break
At the end of March, close to twenty relocated schoolchildren had come home for break following Easter Holiday and end of term 3-week break. Some traveled back to their villages to be with their families. The ones who remained in central Nigerian city continued to fellowship in the EMCI community. EMCI engaged them in daily activities including chores, games and play, as well as tutoring and other responsibilities.
The new girls who had been relocated about a month earlier were tested at two different schools, placing them in classes ranging from Nursery 1 to SS2 (senior secondary). Thus, by the time the returning students were going back to school, this new set of girls were able to return with them. Several Church of the Brethren staff came around and encouraged them for their bold step in pursuing education.
While they were present, we followed up on a Skype appointment we had made with Todd Flory, a COB member and teacher at Wheatland Elementary School in Kansas. His class of about 30 pupils had done a “Skype around the world” day, and our students were the last stop. We spent close to an hour sharing our different cultures and backgrounds across laptop screens. Some of the areas we touched on were favorite subjects, the Kansas State Flag, the other countries they had Skyped, and what our different ecosystems were like. The students also asked each other what kind of jobs they’d want to hold when they became adults as well as the kinds of foods each ate. Some of our more shy students eventually summed up the courage to show their faces to the camera, smiling when they discovered some shared familiarities. At the end of the session, Wheatland Elementary students sang their school anthem for us, and in return, our students sang the Nigerian national anthem for them while holding up our country flag.
Update on the Status of the EMCI Learning Centers in Adamawa and Borno States
51 SS3 (Senior Secondary 3) students are currently sitting for their SSCE and NECO (final year exams). These students are from EMCI Adamawa lesson centers and have been preparing for over a year.
Meanwhile, at EMCI Borno, a piece of land has been acquired for the future development of the EMCI Heritage Academy. More information on this will be available in future posts; watch this space. Also, a room has been refurbished and converted into a reading studio at the center. Now, we are creating a computer lab and a library to facilitate the learning process through use of technology.
Finally, 250 desks seating 750 students had been made over the past few weeks for both of the learning centers.
Schoolgirls in the United States Achieve Academic Recognition
There were several classroom victories during the month which we’d like to share with you. Their teachers are giving us excellent reports, saying that the girls are much more relaxed now and are better able to focus on their studies. In one location, 3 girls made it to the honor roll! One girl earned highest honors, level 1! The other two attained level 2 honor roll which means B average or better on a stringent grade scale. All three of them overcame specific academic challenges and have improved their GPA since the beginning of the year.
Our three college students are making rapid progress through their programs. One excelled on her writing evaluation, which placed her into a higher level program, another placed in the top five in her class, which exempted her from her final exam, and a third continues to hone her writing skills and to receive praise from her professor and extra bonus points (160 out of 150!) as her work is used as examples for the entire class. Her teacher placed her paper on the board and announced to the class that, “this was written by someone in the same class as you, and you should take this as a challenge!” This young woman’s father was brutally killed by Boko Haram terrorists in her presence, and yet she is going forward with her studies with excellence and determination as an inspiring tribute to her late father. “Death, where is thy sting?”
One of our high school students is ready to advance to college in the fall, so if you or someone you know would like to contribute to this effort, please contact us (www.emcinitiative.org).
A Week of Action for Two Year Remembrance of GGSS Chibok
April 1st was the beginning of the 2-week countdown to the 2-year remembrance of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from their dorms at Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno state. The EMCI coordinated several events in Nigeria and the USA to mark the desperately unfortunate incident and inspire action. Below is a summary to mention a few.
- On April 12th, EMCI student coordinator/mentor, Nubwa Gadzama and EMCI International Director, Emma Ogebe spoke on a panel at the World Bank Spring Meetings on “Human Rights and the Status of Women and Children in Africa”. It was the Naija Worldwide Charities (NWC) and Global Women- Africa Network (GLOW) policy forum/global town hall meeting session entitled, “The Human Rights Status of Women and Girls in Africa and the Rest of the World,” and held on April 12, 2016, at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)- World Bank Headquarters Spring Meetings, Washington DC.
- Remembrance events were held in Washington D.C. USA, Abuja, Jos, and Borno
- On April 13th, Boko Haram released a video showing 15 of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. When we showed our Chibok girls the video they recognized some of their classmates.
- During that week of April 10th, the annual EYN Conference was being held at the Annex Church Headquarters. Close to a dozen Church of the Brethren (COB) members had flown in from the United States representing church leaders. To keep the memory of the missing girls alive, EMCI printed a list of each of their names on large banners. These names and banners were carried through the aisles of the church and afterwards, hung on the walls of the auditorium of the church for the week-long duration of the conference. This act even caught the eye of a national newspaper, and the front cover picture of the medium on April 14th was a senior COB representative holding up the banner.
- Our journey getting some of the escaped Chibok girls to school in the United States were inspired by visits of Congressman Chris Smith and Congresswoman Frederica Wilson amongst others . On the 14th of April, our US team accompanied the girls schooling there to a remembrance event at capitol hill attended by Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Frederica S. Wilson, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep Sheila Jackson Lee and many others. There Sa’a spoke on behalf of her sisters, promising that they will never forget their missing friends and classmates. (At the end of this post is a list of all our media mentions for the month, including the events held at Capitol Hill on that remembrance)
- Meanwhile, across the pond, one of our co-founders, Rebecca Gadzama was being awarded by her Alma Mater, the University of Maiduguri for her efforts in furthering education at the institutions. The Graduate Records and Alumni Relations office in the University and the National Alumni Association was conferring the first “Annual Achievement Award” as part of the 22nd Combined Convocation and 40th Anniversary Celebrations. She was nominated to receive an award in recognition of the humanitarian services as an alumnus of the university.
- On April 21st, members of US Congress invited the Chibok girls schooling in the US to participate in a Candlelight Vigil with a delegation of members of the U.S. Congress at the State Department. Initially, we were afraid it was going to be a time used to give speeches from members of Congress, but it turned out to be a powerful, spiritual and uplifting event. The Congress people brought their own podium and set it up outside of the State Department. Congresswoman Wilson (D-FL) organized the event, working with the US Capitol Police, who provided escorts for our girls and the Congressional Delegation. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), and Reps. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), and the United Nations Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) also participated in the vigil and shared inspiring statements. The stirring event was filmed by ABC’s Nightline, which aired a documentary covering the event as well as other prominent networks (MSNBC and Voice of America). The participants commended our girls for continuing their studies in the US and urged people all over the world to unite in standing up for the missing Chibok girls and to work together to eradicate Boko Haram. Several members of Congress spoke, and a Democrat asked a republican to pray. Illustrating the extent of broad bi-partisan support of the effort, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said that “it is not a Democrat issue or a Republican issue or a Woman’s issue or a Man’s issue, or a Black Caucus issue, but it is a HUMANITARIAN ISSUE.” Others re-iterated that the full Congress supports this. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee read from Psalm 91 on safety. UN Representative Barbara Lee spoke eloquently, showing great support. When it was our turn, Sa’a briefly explained who she was. One of the non Chibok escapees, but a victim of terror from Northeastern Nigeria, known only as “Zee,” led Congress and the girls in prayer quite powerfully in the name of Jesus. You could have heard a pin dropped as she prayed. Then she and Sa’a read all 219 names while we all prayed for them. NO ONE BUDGED. Some of our girls and other distinguished participants were crying. They were God’s tears. Members of Congress’ hearts were touched. As a fitting end to an inspiring tribute, Congressman Curt Clawson (R-FL) who had been asked by Congresswoman Wilson to pray for the effort, led the delegation in singing Amazing Grace to conclude the inspiring event.
Update on Activities in Nigeria when International Director was Around
Towards the end of the month, Emmanuel Ogebe flew to Nigeria to attend some of the goings-ons there. While here, he traveled to Adamawa and Borno states to visit the learning centers there, fellowshipping with families, staff, and victims of the insurgency. With him, he brought donations of computers from PLEA a US charity, to help further the learning process there.
Our objective remains networking with various organizations to see if we can collaborate on projects to bring back quality education and provide a more prospective looking future for people coming from that region. Please contact us if you want to help.
Somewhere on Broadway…
In the US, Danai Gurira, a famolus actress and playwright, who wrote Eclipsed, a Broadway play about enslaved women in Liberia’s 12-year civil war, was inspired by EMCI’s work upon meeting our International Director and human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe. As a result, all Broadway performances of Eclipsed will conclude with a moment in which the names of some of the missing girls are read and remembered as the performance is dedicated to them. Bono, the famous lead singer of U-2, appeared on stage with the Eclipsed staff as part of the launch of the remembrances. Eclipsed is the first production in Broadway history to feature an all-female director, cast, and playwright.
As Promised, here is a List of our Media Mentions
Escaped ‘Chibok Girl’ Pleads for More US Help
From Boko Haram Captive To U.S. College Student http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/04/18/474702756/from-boko-haram-captive-to-u-s-college-student
Nigeria’s missing girls: A glimpse of the stolen
#BringBackOurGirls Survivor Urges World Not To Give Up On Her Friends
Link for first Congressional event on 2 year remembrance
Congressman Smith Tweets in remembrance of missing Chibok girls
As Video of Chibok Girls Gives New Hope, We Speak to Survivors of Boko Haram
‘Eclipsed’ shows on Broadway to be dedicated to victims
Nigeria’s Stolen Girls: Inside Boko Haram Territory Where Children Are Forced to Become Suicide Bombers: Reporter’s Notebook
How School Girl Escaped Being Kidnapped By Boko Haram: Part 2
UM-Flint Grad Will Work to Save, Ensure Education for Victims of Boko Haram
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson hosts candlelight vigil at the U.S. State Department to honor the Chibok Girls
Chibok Survivor Now Thriving in the U.S.
Names of Still Missing Girls
- Lydia Habila
- Rejoice Musa
- Mary Madu
- Hauwa Abuge
- Laraba Haruna
- Esther Ayuba
- Maryamu Yakubu
- Lydia Imar
- Comfort Amos
- Naomi Bitrus
- Ruth Wavi
- Mary Dauda
- Ladi Joel
- Saraya Samuel
- Salome Pogu
- 16 Sarah Abdu
- Rose David
- Esther John
- Deborah Aji
- Hauwa Dauda
- Naomi Luka
- Glory Dame
- Saraya Dame
- Hauwa Bula
- Laraba Paul
- Lugwa Samuel
- Lugwa Sanda
- Comfort Habila
- Guba Bura
- Lydia Emma
- Glory Yaga
- Iyhi Abdu
- Kauna Lalai
- Tabitha Silas
- Maryamu Lawan
- Yagana Jashua
- Rejoice Santi
- Godiya Bitrus
- Awa Bitrus
- Rahila Yohanna
- Maryamu Wuri
- Hauwa Musa
- Kabu Musa
- Rhoda John
- Salome Titus
- Maryamu Abbas
- Safiya Abdu
- Hauwa Adamu
- Rakiya Gali
- Ruth Ngitatar
- Halima Gambo
- Rebecca Ibrahim
- Rakiya Kwamte
- Rebecca Kabu
- Christiana Yusuf
- Jumai Muteh
- Amina Bulama
- Anna Ezekiel
- Saraya Stover
- Patience Jacob
- Awa Abughe
- Lugwa Abughe
- Mairama Yahaya
- Martha James
- Awa Amos
- Asabe Manu
- Esther Usman
- Mary Dame
- Ruth Kolo
- Hauwa Tela
- Suzanna Yakubu
- Amina Pogu
- Yaayi Abana
- Saraya Paul
- Fatima Tapje
- Saratu Micah
- Elizabeth Joseph M
- Amina John
- Victoria William
- Rakiya Shitima
- Deborah Peter
- Jummai Pogu
- Mary Sule
- Jummai Aboku
- Rifkatu Amos
- Rebecca Mallum
- Ladi Wadai
- Kwamta Simon
- Esther Markus
- Blessing Abana
- Nguba Bura
- Karu Stephen
- Rahila Bitrus
- Tapchi Hyelanpa
- Deborah Solomon
- Rahila Ibrahim
- Monica Enoch
- Dorcas Yakubu
- Rifkatu Galang
- Asabe Goni
- Naomi Yaga
- Rhoda Peter
- Naomi Adamu
- Hauwa Ishaya
- Sarah Samuel
- Saratu Ayuba
- Hauwa Josepj
- Jinkai Yama
- Maryamu Abubakar
- Deborah Abbas
- Saraya Musa
- Helen Ibrahim
- Hannatu Ibrahim
- Maimuna Usman
- Maryamu Musa
- Hannatu Nuhu
- Asabe Ali
- Yana Yaske
- Rebecca Joseph
- Naomi Philmon
- Rifkatu Yakubi
- Liatu Habila
- Deborah Jafaru
- Abigail Kugama
- Hauwa wahi
- Racheal Kheke
- Amina Ali
- Ayuba Grema
- Saratu Dauda
- Yaana Pogu
- Grace Paul
- Margaret Shitima
- Pindar Nuhu
- Hannatu Abubakar
- Hannatu Ishaku
- Hauwa Kwagwi
- Parmata Musa
- Hauwa Nkeke
- Mary Dama
- Mary Amos
- Aishatu Musa
- Mary Yakubu
- Sarah ndaske
- Hadiza Yakubu
- Asabe Lawan
- Tabitha Pogu
- Ruth Bitrus
- Lydia Simon
- Mwa Daniel
- Lugwa Mutah
- Yana Bukar
- Saraya Yaga
- Christiana Ali
- Kauna Luka
- Hauwa Peter
- Ladi Paul
- Deborah Yerima
- Juliana Yakubu
- 159 Ruth Lawan
- Laraba John
- Mary Daniel
- Hauwa Musa
- Naomi Zakariya
- Saratu Markus
- Zabu Yaska
- Saraya Samuel Yaga
- Hajara Isa
- Kwadzugu Haman
- Hauwa Markus
- Hauwa Maina
- Comfort Bulus
- Aisha Lawan
- Martha Musa
- Fibi Haruna
- Falta Lawan
- Maryamu Bulama
- Aishatu Lawan
- Glory Ali
- Esther Jashua
- Ruth Ishaku
- FILO Dauda
- Rifkatu Splomon
- Margaret Watsai
- Mary Ali
- Ruth Amos
- Bilkisu Abdulkahi
- Martha James
- Rebecca Ibrahim
- Maryamu Lawan
- Deborah Andrawus
- Agnes Ngapani
- Mary G .Dauda
- Saratu Iliya
- Saratu Tapji
- Mairama Bashir
- Victoria Dauda
- Halima Ali
- Maryamu Ali
- Ladi Audu
- Zainabu Yaga
- Awa Ali
- Talatu Adamu
- Ladi Paul
- Ladi Dauda
- Hannatu Dauda
- Lydia Yaga
- Mary Paul
- Naomi Yohanna
- Jessica Habila
- Jumai Paul
- Saratu yahi
- Helen Musa
- Jumai Yaga
- Grace Ahmadu
- Hamsatu Umoru
- Lydia Nuhu
- Mary Yakubu
- Saratu Thlawur
- Aishatu Modu
Hello once again, we hope you had a wonderful Easter…
In Africa we have a saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, you go together.” We want this attitude to resonate with you once you’re through reading this blogpost. For our ardent readers, we were unable to produce February update because we were quite busy. Without much delay, welcome to our 2nd newsletter of 2016, we hope you take something from this update as we march into spring together.
Director’s Visit to EMCI Adamawa in February
In the second week of February our founders, Paul & Becky, traveled to Northeastern Nigeria to pay a visit to our learning centers there. There, we visited with parents and staff members to encourage and get feedback from them. Materials and other school supplies were procured to aid the smooth operations of school activities. 60 desks are being made for the center there, to add to the desks already there which currently seat 130 students. The new desks each seat 3 students for additional seating capacity of 180 students.
A need we observed was for a media room, where we can play educational CD’s and have sufficient audio/visual projection to facilitate the learning process to as many pupils at a time as possible. Stipends were paid to all the teachers and supporting personnel for the months of February and March.
EMCI Visit to Borno State Learning Center in March
During the first week of March, four EMCI members traveled to Borno and visited with the learning center there. Though they were out of session for their midterm break, we were greeted by many parents and members of the security team (vigilante there). Some of the current activities going on there include:
- 150 desks being made for the center there. Each desk holds 3 children and they will be transported to them after Easter
- 51 senior students to sit for their SSCE (final exam)
- Uniforms and ID cards made for each student
- Received and delivered donations of 48 Soccer Jerseys from a Catholic School in Manchester, UK
Finally, we also paid monthly stipends for February and March to all the teachers and supporting personnel there.
Update on Relocated Schoolchildren in Nigeria
After our return from the Borno and Adamawa states we were able to secure three openings for girl students at one of the schools in central Nigeria. Subsequently, we relocated eight orphaned girls from a Borno community to our home in central Nigeria, which has become a transition-house for these kids, in hopes to gain admission for them all. They range in age from twelve to twenty-three. One girl has already been enrolled in the school where we already have a couple girls. We are working on placing the girls into more schools in either the same city or another city in the same region.
The last Saturday of each month brings with it visiting day at two of the schools where sixteen children have been relocated in central Nigeria. Following our visits with them at the end of January, we took their school provisions requests and made arrangements to meet their needs as best we could. Foodstuff like garri and corn were supplied to the thirteen children at one of the schools and in early-March, they came “home” for a week during their mid-term break. For the three boys in the other school, we bought shoes for them as well as painting class and math utensils.
In early February, EMCI also visited with the two girls who were relocated to another city in central Nigeria. There the matron at the facility informed us of their progress in their new school and was happy to report that after an initial slow transition, the girls were acclimating well to their new environment. They made requests for school supplies such as books and writing materials, which we made arrangements for.
Easter with the Schoolchildren in Nigeria
Shortly before Easter, sixteen students came home for breaks, some of whom have 3-week holidays to mark the end of the session. While here, they have integrated with the eight new girls and made them feel at home too. Some of them were reunited as they had known each other from back when they were schooling in Borno together. Those who were able to travel, went back home for the 3 week break.
On Thursday, March 24th while most of the kids were around, we had a Skype session with Todd Flory and his fourth grade class at Wheatland Elementary School in Andover, Kansas. Todd is a COB member who after reading our article in the October issue of Messenger showed interest in Skyping us. His class connects with other classes and students around the world with Skype. We wanted both our students to become more aware of and involved in the issue of global education access, especially for the girls and refugees. The Skype session was great; our kids learned about limericks while we taught them some phrases in Hausa. Todd asked if we could Skype them again on April 14th as they will be doing an all-day through midnight Skype Around the World project. We’ll be forward looking to that.
Spring Break and Valentine’s in the US
Some of our relocated schoolgirls still high school in the US had a pizza night reunion on Valentine’s weekend.They asked for pizza – which is a good sign that they are acculturizing to American food. They also didn’t mind that it was half pork half sausage!
Some of the students attending school in the US underwent career testing this week as they continued to progress educationally and pursue long-term career paths in their areas of calling.
Please help them keep in mind as this is just one step in their future/career exploration process. The results can be useful for initiating natural discussions on the array of possible career options and additional prayer concerning their occupational options, but will not be the be all and end all of it. Similarly, they will have access to career and college exploration online resources which they can use for exploratory (not to mention motivational) purposes.
God will continue to direct and develop their knowledge and skills and reveal their aptitudes as they continue to commit their future to Him and work hard with their studies.
April 14th will mark the 2-year anniversary of the abduction at GGSS Chibok. As we approach this date, several events will be held in remembrance of the tragic event and to continue to raise awareness and hope for their return.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson is organizing several events at Capitol Hill and has invited a Chibok escapee staying with us to speak at a congregational forum and a press conference at the Capitol. Each week, that congress is in session, led by the congresswoman, they take photos of themselves wearing red and hold up signs, ensuring that the girls have not been forgotten. These days at congress have been dubbed “Wear Something Red Wednesday”.
Meanwhile, at Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, there will be a delegation of COB USA members coming around that time. EMCI will be holding remembrance prayers and gatherings at the church and home in central Nigeria, in solidarity of the missing girls.
For more details about participating in our anniversary activities, please contact us. See list below:
1. Houston, TX April 8
2. Houston, TX April 10
3. Washington DC April 13 and 14
4. New York NY April 15 and 16
5. Silver Spring MD April 16
This Easter weekend, we wanted to share with you someone special. Let’s call her “Miracle.”
One day Boko Haram terrorists attacked her family in northern Nigeria. Her husband was a policeman so they beheaded him in front of her and her kids.
Although the terrorists usually don’t decapitate women and children, they made an exception because this was the family of a cop.
They beheaded her two children in front of her and then slit Miracle’s throat too and left her for dead.
Two days later, city workers were clearing the corpses for mass burial when the found Miracle’s body. As they picked it, she twitched.
Unlike her husband, Boko Haram did not completely sever and detach her head. She was a woman so they assumed slitting her throat was enough to kill her. It didn’t.
Miracle is alive today after two days left for dead. She was the sole person recovered alive from the heap of corpses.
She is trying hard to support her baby – her sole surviving family member – and restart her life as a refugee.
Although EMCI focuses on child victims, sometimes we see adults that we simply can’t turn our backs too.
With a small grant provided by a church mission team in Kingstowne Virginia, we sent Miracle to a class on how to start a business. Now she sells chickens to keep body and soul together.
You can be part of Miracle’s recovery too. Let us know if you want to help her buy more chickens, pay for her child’s school or help her with house rent.
Happy Easter from EMCI – countering terrorism, one book at a time!
Hello for the first time this year; glad you could be a part of this newsletter. The month of January was a chilly one (both in Nigeria and across the Atlantic), but the wheels of EMCI could not be allowed to freeze. Here is an update of goings-on while we turned the leaf of a new year.
Resumption of the Learning Centers
After spending time away from informal schooling during the Christmas & New Year period, the children at the EMCI leaning centers in Borno and Adamawa states resumed. They had been away for close to three weeks prior to resumption, which saw an increase in the number of registered schoolchildren. Presently, 50 of the the final year students are prepping to sit for their WAEC exams in May/June.
We will continue to strive to provide the resources to keep the center open and cater to the needs of the near three thousand children there, as well as the brave teachers, parents, non-academic staff, and various other stakeholders in the environs.
Return & School Resumption of the Relocated Children in Nigeria
Following the turn of the year, the relocated schoolchildren began to return to their various “bases” in central Nigeria. They came in different bunches; some in two’s, and other’s in groups of four and five.
Although their schools resumed within the first week of school, some couldn’t make it back in time due to financial challenges at home. A set of orphaned twin girls had to wait for their mother to sell farm produce on the weekly market-day to raise enough money for her to put them on a bus back to the city.
The last Saturday of the month is reserved as a visiting day among some of the boarding schools they attend. Our staff got to catch up with with a few of them last Saturday (Jan 29th), providing them with durable snacks for the semester, and money to get more school equipment. The overall attitude of the children is one of gratitude and a desire to stay in school.
Visit from Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren
In Mid-January, fourteen volunteers from the Church of the Brethren community in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania came on a missions trip to Nigeria. We were blessed to host them for a dinner, during which we presented a comprehensive package surrounding the insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and our efforts at securing the futures of the affected children.
Continue to pray that our message will touch the hearts of those who it reaches and the plight of the children will be alleviated through collaborations with communities such as these. Thank you.
Founders Trip to the UK
Early this year, our founders traveled to the UK for the new year. While there, they shared EMC with community who had shown interest to support the displaced schoolchildren and learning centers.
Trip to the US, a College Update, and EMCI Annual Awards 🙂
Our managing partner and global resource person traveled to the United States and visited with the relocated schoolgirls. There, she also met with our Human Rights Advocate, who doubles as our International Director. Awards were announced amongst our domestic and international staff.
Our Education Adviser was nominated MVP in the United States for her invaluable work garnering more than $150,000 worth of genuine full scholarships for our high school girls in addition to numerous other enrichment programs.
EMCI’s Global Partnership and International Cooperation Director was nominated MVP in Nigeria for her tireless efforts in supporting IDPs, victims as well as candidates for our program both in the US and Nigeria.
Update on the Relocated Chibok Girls
The Chibok schoolgirls in the US continue to make strives in their education. Sadly, one of our Chibok Girls in the US lost a relative in the recent bomb blast in Chibok.
Thank you for taking the time to share with us. See you next month!
It’s that time of the year again. When we begin to look back at the previous 12 months and prepare for the start of another journey around the sun. To wrap up 2015, this post will cover our activities for the months of November and December while doing a photo recap of the year gone by. We will also highlight some of our major milestones, including presenting a summary listing of our media mentions.
Here we go!
November 2015 with EMCI
Relocated schoolchildren’s acclimation to their new communities
- Currently, EMCI has facilitated the relocation of 31 internally displaced and/or orphaned children from Borno and Adamawa States to seven different schools in Jos, Abuja and Abeokuta.
- There was a degree of apprehensiveness among a few of them when they first came, but these brave young ones soldiered on.
- Some were able to come “home” in Jos for a midterm break towards the end of the month. There was much to celebrate as they are becoming more and more of a family.
Growing number of children at the lesson centers in Adamawa & Borno states
- The EMCI “lesson centers” have accommodated an increasing intake of children who have been out of school in the affected regions.
- Currently, the Adamawa location has around eight hundred children whereas the one in Borno state has over two thousand. In each of this centers, we had initially planned to accommodate no more than a couple hundred.
- Please pray for desks and adequate classroom materials for the lesson centers in addition a continuation of funding for the teachers’ stipends. Contact information for those interested in contributing is provided at the end of this newsletter.
Continued financial contributions from near and afar
- We want to recognize and appreciate the cash donations received from UK philanthropists. By God’s grace, some of our founders will be visiting them in early January.
Acceptance into a higher institution of one relocated schoolchild
- One of our relocated daughters to Jos was formally accepted into a leadership institute to pursue a course leading to national diploma in community health!
EMCI USA Schoolgirls
- There was much activity on the other side of the pond involving our twelve schoolgirls in the States. Most of them celebrated their first American Thanksgiving with host sponsors there, while the familiar few showed them the ropes around how to tackle turkey roast.
- The girls continue to improve in their schoolwork, and are making new friends and connections as they progress through life in their new found home.
December 2015 with EMCI
Relocated schoolchildren were able to go home for the holidays
- After completing their first semester “at-board”, the kids were sent home to be with their families for Christmas.
- Medical treatment was provided to one who had post-traumatic stress-related symptoms.
Newspaper and media metions
During the month, a couple media outlets published articles with EMCI being referenced. Check them out:
- Morgan Winsor’s article highlights the devastation by Boko Haram on the education sector. Read it here.
- Following her trip to the Northeast with our founders from a few months back, Paul from Christian Science Monitor published her article. Read it here.
- In response to a report by UNICEF saying that Boko Haram violence has forced 1 million children out of school, Teo Kermeliotis, a deputy online editor for Al Jazeera Media network interviewed our founder and published this article: read it here.
Oversight trip to EMCI lesson centers in the Northeast
- In line with regular school scheduling, the lesson centers closed for Christmas and New Years, marking the end of the semester.
- Our founders, Paul and Rebecca Gadzama were on hand to oversee the closing ceremonies as well as to pay the teachers’ stipends and provide gift items to victims of the insurgency there.
- At Adamawa, there was prize giving for the end of the term. The top three children in each class were awarded prizes. That’s kindergarten one through three, primary one through form six (grades one to six), and JSS1 through SS3 (Seventh to twelfth grades). The top student received an additional gift of a Christmas card.
- At Borno State, there was a football (soccer) match held between children of the host community vs. the children of the surrounding environs. The real winner was EMCI.
- Awards were presented there as well, and a full-fledged end of year party was celebrated. Admonishments were dolled out to deserving individuals and stipends were paid including additional Christmas bonuses.
- The figure at the close of school was 788 in Adamawa, an increase from 400 just a few months prior. People had been urged to return home on the premise that the insurgency had been cleared. However, they were forced to come back to IDP/refugee status because there was no home to go to…
EMCI USA and the overseas schoolgirls
- Perhaps the biggest milestone achieved was the formal acceptance into colleges (degree courses) by three of the trans-Atlantic schoolgirls. These girls have barely spent a year overseas; one of whom is an escaped Chibok Schoolgirl, the other was only recently admitted into high school there in September. Pray that we get scholarships to sponsor them. Please see our contact at the end of this newsletter if you are interested in helping.
- As the year rounded up, the girls placed in host families for Christmas, while a couple of them remained at their schools.
- Finally, our resident human rights attorney and co-founder Emmanuel was recognized as a hero of the year by the Darfur Women’s Action Group for his tireless advocacy to the plight of the still missing Chibok girls and against the insurgency in Norheastern Nigeria. Read more about this award here.
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Here is a photo recap of EMCI from inception to date:
You may contact us on our Facebook page or through our email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) if you are interested in supporting any one of our efforts.
Greetings and welcome to another update on recent affairs here at Education Must Continue Initiative. What many people don’t know is that EMCI is comprised mostly of victims of terrorism themselves helping others. We would not have been where we are today without the sacrifices made by people who have also been affected by similar situations. Through the concerted efforts of these fellow sufferers, education will continue to reach those in most dire need of it, even in the most isolated and violent regions of northern Nigeria.
Here we go…
CHIBOK GIRL GOES TO NY
Salome’s UN visit with Gordon Brown (An EMCI escaped Chibok schoolgirl being interviewed by UN Special Envoy on Education – Gordon Brown former prime minister of The United Kingdom. Syria has over 2 million displaced children. Nigeria has 1.4 million!)
Salome is one of hundreds of girls abducted by Boko Haram from the Nigerian town of Chibok in April 2014, sparking the global hashtag campaign Bring Back Our Girls. She is one of just a few dozen to escape.
She spoke to Women in the World on the sidelines of an event in Manhattan on Monday September 28th, where she took the stage with United Nations Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown. The event, called Up For School, was hosted by UNICEF and children’s charity Theirworld, drawing leaders from around the globe to talk about the importance of getting kids to school.
She was one of many powerful voices at the event on Monday, including a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, Mohamed Sidibay, now a schoolteacher. Others included Sarah Brown, president of the charity Theirworld; Graca Machel, the first education minister of Mozambique; Holly Gordon, chief executive of the initiative Girl Rising; Kennedy Odede, the founder of schools for girls in the slums of Kenya, and many others.
Tens of millions of children around the world are out of school, due to child trafficking, forced marriage, child labor, and war. “Some of these children will never see school unless we do something about it,” said Gordon Brown. You can do something about it by signing the Up For School petition to encourage governments to take action.
DOCTORS FAMILY DONATES TO EMCI
Donation from Dr. Ameh Foundation and Peace Corp Alumni (Dr. Ameh Idoko Foundation donates to Education Must Continue Initiative’s efforts.)
The family of a renowned Pediatrician and founder of Madonna hospital in Makurdi, Benue State, Dr. Idoko, has made a donation to EMCI in honor of their family patriarch.
Dr. Idoko whose family is one of the most illustrious in Benue state and indeed the north central Nigeria comprising a lawyer, medical doctor, pharmacist, IT Guru amongst others, recently turned 76.
Making the donation on behalf of the Dr. Ameh Foundation was Hon. Robert Owoicho Idoko first son of the distinguished doctor and former chairman of Okpokwu LG.
In a brief message to EMCI, the pharmacist and family scion said that they were touched by the story of EMC’s “newest arrival” in the US – a schoolgirl orphaned by Boko Haram sponsored. “May God bless your kindness to humanity,” Owoicho Idoko added.
Some of the children present at the education support event by the Dr. Ameh Idoko Foundation on October 5th
EMCI GETS MUCH NEEDED MORALE BOOST FROM DONATIONS
(October 23rd; Our founder, Mr. Paul Gadzama went on another trip to the IDP camps in Yola as well as to Lassa. An excerpt from his POV is provided below)
“The reality is that there are still great risks undertaken to access victims of the insurgency in Northeastern Nigeria. It was in the news that there was a bomb blast at a mosque in Yola that weekend. Fortunately, Paul had already departed Yola for Lassa at the time and returned safely.
We had a great and fruitful day. Started at the EMC Yola IDP School. Church of the Brethren (COB) donated for the construction of 65 desks which has filled the classroom block donated by the Family worship center. The donation was also used to erect demarcations between 6 classrooms up to the roof and black chalkboards were also made. For the first time, we were able to pay stipend to all the volunteer teacher staff comprised of internally displaced persons. This has boosted the morale of the teachers.
UNICEF also donated 3 tents while we were there.”
Our thanks to the Peace Corp Alumni of Nigeria for their support to five f our teachers. In a donation letter, Al Hannans, president of PCNAF said “The Peace Corps Nigeria Alumni Foundation (PCNAF) was formed in 2001 by a small group of former Peace Corps Volunteers in the Washington, DC area with a desire to play an on-going role in supporting the country where we have seen first-hand evidence of how it helps to reduce poverty and promote economic growth. Therefore, our mission is to help foster economic growth in Nigeria with programs designed to increase equality and access to quality education.
One of the most important things children displaced by Boko Haram terrorists need is help with continuing their education. So we commend the Education Must Continue Initiative for recognizing that need, and for creating a school in Yola to ensure that the children of refugees can continue their studies.
We know that one of the biggest problems you are currently facing at the school is the need to provide financial support to your teachers. So we are making a donation to cover the costs for five teachers.” President Hannans had taught classes in Nigeria during the civil war in the 60’s – a time not unlike the present in Nigeria.
EMCI appreciates the generous donation to support 5 teachers at EMCI’s IDP school in Yola, Nigeria. The school which was started as essentially a home-schooling activity for people internally displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency has actually become a brick-and-mortar institution over the past few months.
While we received donations of computers from the European Union Election Observer Mission and blocks of classrooms built for us by a church, PCNAF group’s donation is the first cash donation specifically providing regular support to the critical element that makes all of this work – the human capital of our priceless teachers!
EMCI has an all-volunteer staff of over 40 teachers who themselves are victims of Boko Haram. Morale has been low and the donation comes at a crucial time when these professionals are wondering how to cater for their families as the holidays approach.
During the recent Teachers’ Day, Nigeria’s union of teachers reported that over 600 have been killed by terrorists. The donation serves to encourage the surviving victims who continue to educate children in a high-risk profession targeted by a group called “Education is Forbidden.”
EMCI OPENS NEW SCHOOL (POV)
“The journey took four and a half hours rather than the usual two and a half hours. This was due to increasingly deteriorating roads and countless military checkpoints.
Instead of arriving at 11 am when school was supposed to close for the weekend, we arrived at 1 pm. Nevertheless, the children waited despite the hunger and thirst. I got biscuits for them on the way, which they were over excited to get, maybe for the first time in years. I was however saddened that it could not make it possible for the children to have more than 2 pieces each.
We have over 1,300 children from primary 1 to JSS 3 (grades 1 to grades 8) in the register, and the number is increasing. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only school available in that area and outside Maiduguri and Biu local governments; this is the only town a school is operating in Borno state. So we must remain very low keyed. In fact, we have instructed that it be called a lesson center to avoid unnecessary attention and therefore distraction.
There are only 12 teachers, so I asked the coordinator to interview and recruit 3 more. Initially, we had planned to start with 150 students and 5 teachers. We have provided basic amenities and facilities for the school but the excitement in the community is overwhelming. Many of these children are also refugees from neighboring villages. These are the villages at the fringes of the Sambisa forests and therefore remain a hot spot.
We provided funds for them to construct a soccer and volleyball pitches which is providing relaxation and trauma easing for children and even adults. They have requested for a handball court now.
Before departing, I was able to pay stipend to all the 12 teachers today, and you need to see the excitement and tons of appreciation. These guys are going to give their soul to the teaching of the children.”
Founders Trip to Maiduguri to Attend NEMA and Other NGOs Conference
A week after the Yola/Lassa trip, Paul was in Maiduguri after attending a two day engagement session between National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Presidential Initiative in the Northeast (PINE) and other stakeholders in the reconstruction of the affected region.
They addressed the issue of cooperation, coordination and communication. The Vice President gave the keynote address after other top government personalities have presented.
However from the communique, they were gathering raw materials for further preparations for the Presidential Intervention in the Northeast. We were able to make contacts for possible future collaboration.
The US Schoolgirls Attending a College Fair
Some of the girls studying in the United States had the opportunity to attend a college fair as they seek opportunities to continue their education. Please pray for resources and admissions to make this possible as college education is very expensive in the US. The loss of records resulting from the burning of their school has been a major setback which we are working to address.
Update on the progress of the school children here in Jos and Abuja
Nineteen of the relocated schoolchildren spent a week of their mid-term break and returned to their school towards the end of the month.
Since these breaks are short, it is not cost effective for them to make a journey of 12 hours back to the Northeast. We need hosts to keep them during such short breaks.
Update on Hauwa (Petition to get her Visa)
If you will recall, we have been trying to obtain a visa for one of the Chibok school escapees to allow her continue her studies in the U.S.
After three denials, we just started a petition on the White House Petitions site, “We the People”. Please sign it and take a stand with an escaped Chibok schoolgirl. You can play a part by signing this in just five minutes. Here is a link: http://wh.gov/iPs5H
Here’s some more information about this petition:
Give a student visa to Hauwa – a courageous Chibok schoolgirl who escaped after Boko Haram abduction #bringbackourgirls
Ms. Hauwa is one of the 57 escaped Nigerian schoolgirls after their abduction by Boko Haram terrorists from Chibok a year and a half ago today. In fact, she was the very first girl to inspire the others to escape and she led the way by jumping herself.
She and several other girls obtained scholarships to school in the US and applied for student visas. Hauwa is the only one who was denied a visa by the US embassy in Abuja three times.
The terrorists put her out of school. The US should not keep her out of school any longer. #bringbackourgirls.
Please show the world that he US stands with girl education and show the terrorists that these girls will achieve their ambition for a good education.
Give Hauwa a student visa now. She’s a heroine who should be encouraged, not denied!
|Aug 25, 2015||– Departed Jos for Yola (Paul & Rebecca Gadzama, Paula the journalist from Christian Science Monitor)
|Aug 26, 2015||At EMCI School, Yola (Paul, Rebecca, Paula)
– Met 29 teachers (word had gone out that the founders would be coming)
– Over 100 students just playing at school
– Had a meeting with the teachers and school administrators
|Aug 26, 2015||At Lassa (Paul, Rebecca, Paula, Raheema, Solomon – youth/vigilante leader)
Donations of EMCI Materials
o 2 small First aid boxes to vigilantes
o 2 large green medical bags
o 1 trauma kit § 2 small first aid kits
o 2 cartons of mana nutrition foods
* All handed over to the chief nursing officer of Lassa General Hospital
– Found hospital building completely destroyed by BH
– Remains of those very sick patients who could not run, felled down barely outside the hospital were still lying around
– There were only 3 staff
– No office
Lassa Town Destruction
– Almost 2/3 of the town is burned and fallen to the ground
– None of the 15 churches are standing!
– Lassa main EYN church recently expanded to include primary and junior secondary schools is gone
– All of the missionary-erected buildings have been completely dilapidated
– Very few people, mostly women and children
– No school for the past 3 years!
– No serious farming as no one can go far from home
– High level of malnutrition
– Produced hundreds of educationalists
– Provide huge technocrats to the Borno state and Federal Government
|Raheema’s Project: educationisforbidden.com
– Expressed her desire to liase with EMCI
– Promised her possible collaboration in the very near future
|First Sighting of my Destroyed House and Compound ~ Paul and Rebecca Gadzama – Paul, Rebecca, Paula, Raheema (Photographer), 3 vigilantes and Lassa Commander
– Met step mother-in-law, Lydia Mele and 3 aunts
– Shocked at the level of devastation
– Shown some of our broken utensils
– Prayed for God to heal our land
– Made more commitment to build education and to pray for true religion of peace which is in Jesus
– Took off for Yola at 5:30 pm
|Aug 26, 2015||For Yola
– The BH bombed bridge, forcing all vehicles to go locally on wooden bridge
– Arrived Yola at 9:18 pm
– Took off back to Jos the following morning
Donations of Toiletries and other Basic Items from “Project Aloe”
A fellow Nigerian American, Ms. Jumoke Dada, founder “Project ALOE” visited with and donated toiletries and shirts to some of the Chibok girls in the States. Project ALOE, along with its community partners, supports and encourages college bound girls by providing beauty essentials and education at a send-off event in honor of their achievements while modeling the importance of giving back to others.
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…
The month of June was full of activity for us here at EMCI on different fronts; both in Nigeria and in the U.S.A. For starters, June 1st brought about a regime change at the Federal and State levels. Efforts to combat the Boko Haram insurgency were reinforced by commitments made by the incoming President, Muhammadu Buhari. We continue to pray fervently for an end to this menace and for a sustainable peace that will foster an educative environment.
The first week of the month saw a joint effort between EMCI and Family Worship Center (FWC), Abuja go to IDP camps in Yola where we donated relief materials to camp officials as well as internally displaced persons. Some of the teenage girls (pictured) have lost contact with their families while escaping terror attacks. They are called “unaccompanied minors.” It took a short time to mobilize the Unaccompanieds. Many others showed up too and you might have a fracas or stampede. National Emergency Management (NEMA) officials carefully coordinated the distribution to avoid any incidents as the supplies couldn’t reach everyone in line.
Team EMC/FWC also visited an unregistered camp. Unlike government camps, they have makeshift sticks and thatch structures – not buildings. Pictured is the staff room for the teachers at the refugee schools. They are IDPs themselves. We gave them money for soap. They are all volunteers…
We got to meet the kids – hundreds of them. Our representative asked quiz questions in class. One girl answered correctly who the president of the US was. So we had to give prizes to the winners 🙂
During the month, we were also mentioned in an Al Jazeera article, written by a dear friend to EMCI. Check it out here.
Already mentioned in our original blogpost was the donation of various office equipment, supplies and other material by the EU Mission to Nigerian to EMCI. Pictures of some of these are subsequently shown. We cannot begin to thank all those who had a hand in making that a reality. All we can do is ensure that they reach those who need them the most. God bless you.
Some of these items were distributed to IDP’s at the Stephanos camp at Bukuru, Jos. This camp is located at a former secondary school, and even though they have cement-walled buildings (unlike the ones in Yola), it is far from optimal. The family members coordinating the affairs of the camp are pictured with some of our staff as they received relief items.
Our founders made two more trips to Yola, to check the affairs of things at the camps, in addition to donating of relief materials. “Over the mountains, and through thick and thin straw-thatched buildings” EDUCATION MUST and WILL CONTINUE!!!
Coming back to where it all started, there was a pleasant reunion of the 10 escaped Chibok schoolgirls who have been relocated to the United States. Summer just started and these girls are excited for their first “barbecue-season” in the land of the free. They recently took ESL exams and it will please you to know that they are all making significant academic progress… more to come later.
Thank you for accompanying us on this ride… hang tight for the next one.