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