January 2016 Affairs with EMCI

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.

The Nigeria schoolchildren, prior to the commencement of the second semester of classes.
EMCI Nigeria relocated schoolchildren loading up to go to school for the second semester following Christmas holiday.
EMCI volunteer with three of the Nigeria relocated schoolchildren, prior to departing for 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.

Thank you to Elizabethtown COB

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.

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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.

Receiving foodstuffs from a benevolent donor in the US.
One of the current high school girls who was among the first set of escaped schoolgirls to be relocated is pictured here receiving a laptop gift.
Three relocated girls in the US, off to college…
Our International Director pictured here with the three college bound ladies

Thank you for taking the time to share with us. See you next month!

EMC

Christmas and a Year in the Life of EMCI

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.
Smiles from the Jos students prior to Christmas Break

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…
Our Founders Addressing the Lesson Center in Adamawa
EMCI founders presenting Christmas gifts to children at the Adawama lesson center at the end of year ‘ceremony’
EMCI founders presenting Christmas gifts to children at the Adawama lesson center at the end of year ‘ceremony’ (2)
EMCI lesson teachers receiving their salaries at the end of the term
Food items being prepared for the children and staff at EMCI lesson center, Adamawa
Food time!
Christmas Party at EMCI lesson center
EMCI founders and staff, Adamawa Lesson Center
Paul Gadzama adressing staff, members, students, and well wishers prior to kickoff of the match
Prayers being said at the EMCI lesson center, Borno
A photo with the vigilante security personnel at the Borno lesson center
A photo with the vigilante security personnel at the Borno lesson center
Closing remarks

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:

Media Mentions

If We Run and They Kills Us, so be it, But We Have to Run Now (Published October 14th, 2014 by Sarah Topol, Medium)

Boko Haram Escapees to Start Education in the US (Published December 25th, 2014 by Tomi Oladipo, BBC)

The Girls Who Escaped: One Year Afer the Kidnapping, Some Chibok Schoolgirls have left Nigeria (Published April 13th, 2015 by Sally Hayden, Vice News)

Chibok Girls Abduction One Year Later: European Union Delegation in Nigeria Remembers (Published April 14th, 2015 by Modupe Omopintemi, CNN iReport)

Capitol Hill Lawmakers Meet the ‘Malala of Africa’ (Published April 16th, 2015 by Julia Craven, Huffington Post)

Traumatized by Boko Haram, Kidnapped Girls fire on Rescuers (Published April 30th, 2015 by Sarah Kaplan, Washington Post)

 Denied Education by Boko Haram, Nigerian Kids make do in Derelict Schools (Published June 12th, 2015 by Chika Oduah, Al Jazeera)

Nigeria’s Chibok Girls Find New Start in US (Published August 30th, 2015 by Chika Oduah, Al Jazeera USA)

Salome, a Chibok Girl who Escaped Boko Haram Shares at #UpForSchool Town Hall (Published September 28th, 2015 by A World At School

A Chibok Girl Recalls Her Escape from Boko Haram (Published September 30th, 2015 by Staff, Women in the World in association with the New York Times)

Hon. Robert Idoko/Family Flag off Education Support Program as a Foundation (Published October 7th, 2015 by Engr. Dan Atayi, IPN News)

Chibok Girls in America Ask US Govt to Grant Student Visa to Escape Leader on One and a Half Year Anniversary of Abduction (Published October 15th, 2015 by Emmanuel Ogebe, IPN News)

Nigeria’s Education Crisis: Boko Haram Targeting Schools, Teachers, Students is Devastating Africa’s Largest Economy (Published December 2nd, 2015 by Morgan Winsor, International Business Times)

In War with Boko Haram, Nigerians Battle to Keep Classroom Door Open (Published December 7th, 2015 by Paula Rogo, the Christian Science Monitor)

Virginia Man Opens his Home to Boko Haram Victims (Published December 8th, 2015 by Allison Seymour, Fox 5)

One Million Forced from School by Boko Haram War (Published December 23rd, 2015 by Teo Kermeliotis

Bring Our Girls Back to School; A Project by GOFundMe (Supported news links at the bottom of the page)

You may contact us on our Facebook page or through our email (pmgadzama@yahoo.com or info@emcinitiative.org) if you are interested in supporting any one of our efforts.

education must continue

October Affairs with EMCI

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 RisingKennedy 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.

attends an event with Theirworld and UNICEF to get all children #UpforSchool on September 28, 2015 in New York City.
United Nations Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown with Saalome at the #UpforSchool event in New York City. (Getty)
Salome's interview with Gordon Brown
Salome’s interview with Gordon Brown

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.

Son of Dr. Ameh Idoko presenting children with donations at the event
Son of Dr. Ameh Idoko presenting children with donations at the event

Some of the children present at the education support event by the Dr. Ameh Idoko Foundation on October 5th

Some of the children present at the education support event by the Dr. Ameh Idoko Foundation on October 5th

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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.”

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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.”

Between both schools, EMCI now has enrolled over 2,000 displaced kids back in school.IMG_3156

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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.

Paul, at the NEMA/PINE Engagement Session in Maiduguri, accompanied by members of other NGO’s and churches

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.

US Schoolgirls attending a college fair
US Schoolgirls attending a college fair
US Schoolgirls attending a college fair

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.

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Some of the relocated children, on their mid-term break.
Midterm break 2
2 months ago, the girl on the far right was a vigilante.
Wotclef visitation with EMCI founder
EMCI members visit two schoolgirls who had previously been relocated to a school in Abuja.

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!

EMCI

Aug/Sept Affairs With EMCI

Hello and welcome to another session with us, here at Education Must Continue Initiative. Our activities in the past month and a half since our last blogpost have taken us from the outskirts of the Sambisa Forest in the troubled Borno state, to Philadelphia and Washington D.C.  Here we go again…
Jos to Yola to Lassa and back Trip (Below is a detailed itinerary of the trip)
Aug 25, 2015 –    Departed Jos for Yola (Paul & Rebecca Gadzama, Paula the journalist from  Christian Science Monitor)

CSM Journalist interviews the EYN President Rev. Dr. Samuel Dali in Jos, the annex headquarters of the church as Beckie looks on, prior to departing for Yola
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

Back where the school started, our founders in front of a portion of the thatch classes being supported with tarpaulin
In spite of their being on holiday, children of the EMC School came out in large number to welcome the directors and the Christian Science Monitor Journalists
Some of the school staff identify with the cry for return of the abducted Chibok girls
Some of the children who came out from the neighborhood to welcome us during the trip despite the holiday
Some of the children who came out from the neighborhood to welcome despite the holiday
More children in the newly built classrooms, contributed by Family Worship Center from Abuja from a few months ago (see previous blog post)
Children playing in their makeshift ‘playground’ using the free gift from mother earth

CSM Journalist interviewing EMC IDP school teachers
Aug 26, 2015 At Lassa (Paul, Rebecca, Paula, Raheema, Solomon – youth/vigilante leader)

Ruins of a military tanks used by the Boko Haram and bombed by the Nigerian Air Forcejust by the highway beside the ruined EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi
Ruins of a military tanks used by the Boko Haram and bombed by the Nigerian Air Forcejust by the highway beside the ruined EYN Headquarters, Kwarhi (2)

Some of the vigilante members in Lassa on duty.

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

Presentation of some EU donated medical kits and drugs at 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

The House of a former Military Governor in Lassa, ransacked and burned

–    Almost 2/3 of the town is burned and fallen to the ground

–    None of the 15 churches are standing!

Ruins of a church in Lassa

–    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 

Ruins of the Lassa General Hospital as the vigilante escort our team on a tour

The hospital ambulance
About Lassa

–    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

Frontage of the Gadzama house in Lassa as it stands
The Gadzamas family bed use to be at the spot being pointed at

Paul’s younger brother’s house in the same compound
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

With the CSM journalist who accompanied our founders on the trip
1 Month in the New School for 5 Girls in the U.S.
We celebrated 1 month of being in the new school for 5 of the secondary/high school Chibok girls in the U.S. in Mid Septebmer.
Received Donations of Books from Several Different Sources 
Towards the end of August, there was a donation of hundreds of books, journals, and educational materials from three independent sources in Nigeria. Some of these have already been allocated and distributed to the IDP camp school in Yola.
Got Placement for 9 kids (2 boys and 7 girls) from Primary to Secondary School at 4 Different Institutions in Jos and Abuja Plus Additional Spots for 10 others
We have been given 3 spots at for 2 boys BH ophaned boys aged 18, 11 and a girl, 8 years. Another orphaned girl will report to a college in Jos to start Diploma in community health on Oct 5th. She has 6 credits prior to enrollment.
We are expecting 15 kids from Borno. Another college is is giving EMCI 10 spots .
We also conducted trauma and healing counselling sessions for the children that recently arrived from Northern Nigeria.
These three girls from Lassa Township recently got admission sponsorship to a school in Jos
Trauma healing session for some children who got the relocation and placement program of EMCI
Trauma healing session for some children who got the relocation and placement program of EMCI (2)
Handing over 2 girls to a shelter and school in Abuja

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.

Project ALOE was founded by Jumoke K. Dada, the creative director of Signature RED a marketing and communications company that specializes in women-targeted marketing. In 2010, Ms. Dada felt compelled to give back to young women and as a result, created Project A.L.O.E – Assisting Ladies by Offering Essentials.
We are grateful for the shared openness and commitment to paying to forward, in way or another to young girls whose futures we can positively impact.
Receving toiletries and shirts from Project Aloe
Receving toiletries and shirts from Project Aloe (2)
Celebrated 1 Year at School in the U.S. for the First Batch of Girls
The month of September also marked the 1 year anniversary of four Chibok schoolgirls’ entry to the U.S. This was more or less, where it all began for EMCI.
Another Denial of visa by U.S. Consulate in Nigeria to a Chibok Escapee
On a sadder note however, the Chibok schoolgirl who had previously been denied a visa to go and continue her studies in the U.S. was yet again denied a visa. This time, it was a visitors visa to attend an education event in New York sponsored by the U.N. in conjunction with several other NGO’s. She was meant to be an education advocate, but as circumstances beyond our control hindered this dream from becoming a reality.
We will continue to strive for her and ensure she is able to attain the quality education she deserves.
Another BH Victim got a Visa to the U.S.
Finally, on a much lighter note, we do have something to celebrate from the U.S. Consulate in Nigeria. The daughter of a high profile Christian leader from the Northeast whose father was murdered by BH has had her visa successfully processed to continue her education in the U.S. Her studies in the new town she was relocated to, Yola, was disturbed by bombings and a series of attacks from BH. She felt unsafe and feared going to school following the attacks.
Thank you for taking the time to share with us in this stage of the journey. Till the next one.
EMCI

July/Aug (Summer) Affairs with EMCI

Greetings! This is coming a little late, and we apologize for that. We’ve been busy trying to catch up on happenings back in Nigeria. The month of July was quite a productive one with moving pieces from Askira, Borno State, to Tampa, Florida. Here we go…

July 1st – 30th – Cbk girls are off for holiday in their respective homes
 
The end of the academic school year brought about the first summer in the U.S. for the 10 girls there. We received quite a number of offers to host the girls in various parts of the country, and if we could have, we would have rotated them. However, as is the case, we could only put them up in homes that we felt would provide the adequate social and spiritual nourishment as well as logistical arrangements they needed. To achieving this end, the Church of the Brethren (COB) was instrumental, as they provided the base for qualified families and homes that could host our girls. The link between COB and EYN which is the local church in Chibok and of the girls, dates back to almost eight decades. Both the church and Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) Chibok were built by COB missionaries in 1947. We sent them also because they needed to be with Americans who understand their pains and where they are coming from, some of whom were missionaries in Chibok. Now, they can confidently say that they have extended families across the pond. This was culminated at the COB national conference at Tampa.
 
Summer commences for these 10 brave souls
“Dad” and his new daughters
 
July 2nd – Off to the U.S. 
 
Our founders in Nigeria, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gadzama departed for the US, for a month long summer trip that would see them canvass the majority of the East Coast. One of the major items on the agenda was also to asses the one year experience of the ten Chibok girls currently schooling there.
 
Off to the US …
 
July 5th – Meet with former ministers
 
Chibok girls meet the sagacious former Nigerian Minister for Power, Prof Nebo yesterday. Professor had spoken about social action and justice as cornerstones of our faith. He said when John the Baptist sent to inquire if Jesus was the expected Messiah, Jesus’ reply showed what important evidences of being a Christian are: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. Matt 11:5 Preaching was the last evidence Christ listed. He mentioned actions before words.
Dr. Akinwumi Adesina with 2 of the Chibok Girls and EMCI Co-Founder Emmanuel Ogebe
Former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo with 2 of the Chibok girls and Emma
 
July 11th – Building new classroom blocks at EMCI School, Yola
 
If you recall from our last blogpost, a few weeks prior, Emmanuel Ogebe, our Nigerian American advocate, dragged his Abuja home church missions director, Aunty Regi, to Yola to visit the school at the IDP camp. We literally jumped on a plane two days after we first discussed the idea of going there. While there, Emmanuel expressed the need of tarpaulin for the school as rains were coming to Aunty Regi. However, she said that from here experience, that wouldn’t work. This week we got the sad news that the rains flooded the camp and schooling was disrupted. Shortly after, Aunty Regi called and said she was sending a team to visit the camp. Is that ok? Emmanuel said “yes”. Today July 11th) we saw pictures of them building a school. Yes. Building a school! They didn’t even know about the flooding. I can’t believe it. Thanks so much Family Worship Chapel!
 
Before… our visit to the IDP kids’ thatch classroom
Before…. June 2015 EMCI refugee school in Yola, Nigeria
Classrooms for refugee kids under construction
What the class has transformed to now
After… new school structure built in July 2015
July 11th – 16th – Church of the Brethren Annual Conference meets EMCI
Being that our founders, the Chibok girls, and the majority of the of IDPs from in Northern Nigeria are members of the local church, Ekklesiyar Yan´uwa a Nigeria: EYN (the Hausa translation of Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), we took on the opportunity to fellowship at the Annual Conference held in Tampa, Florida (www.brethren.org/ac/2015/).
Representatives of COB from all over the world were present, including our very own EYN Jos’ Women’s Fellowship (Zumunta’r Mata), 10 of the relocated escaped Chibok girls, and three of our founders, Mr. and Mrs. Gadzama and Emmanuel Ogebe. Also present was the EYN president, Rev. Dr. Samuel Dali, a close friend of EMCI and also an advocate for justice and equality from and for Northern Nigeria.
The Women’s Fellowship of EYN  toured most of the COB Churches in U.S. while they were there. Our 10 Chibok girls on summer break , hosted by COB families toured with their ‘mothers’ from Nigeria.
Mrs. Gadzama spoke to the audience, presenting the dire situation of the many displaced members, pastors, and congregation, receiving a standing applause when she was through.

The Gadzama also shared their 16 month journey with the Chibok girls and the EMCI IDP schools. They also called for the recovery of all abducted people, especially, the 219 Chibok girls and for God to cause a change of heart among the Boko Haram insurgents.
Towards the end of the conference, the entire EMCI staff, as well as beneficiaries (the 10 Chibok girls present) were called on stage and a congregational prayer led by the senior pastors was held for them by over 2,000 participants.  It was truly a beautiful moment.
Videos from the conference can be seen here: www.livestream.com/livingstreamcob/AC2015/videos
 
Following the conference, the EMCI family took a trip to the aquatic zoo and down to the marina, thanks to Port Tampa for a wonderful excursion to a WW2 War ship – Victory.
 
One of our founders, packages goodies and gift items from Nigeria for the girls (is that chin-chin I see)
Mommy Gadzama
Daddy Gadzama
Daddy Gadzama
One POV from the COB annual conference
Reunion night at the hotel in Tampa, prior to the COB Annual Conference
The Nigerian contingent at the COB conference made their presence felt!
No, really, the Nigerian contingent was truly represented well at the COB Annual Conference
EYN Women’s fellowship representing at the COB Annual Conference
Mrs. Gadzama, sharing her family’s 19 mnth journey with some of the escaped Chibok girls, the birth of Education Must Continue on June 6th, 2014 at the COB Annual Conference.
Mrs. Gadzama sharing the work of EMCI schools in the IDP camps to the congregation at the COB Annual Conference. All we can say ‘thank you Lord, Our faith looks up to you Father. Because you live, we can face the future.’
Prayers being said for the EMCI family at the COB Conference
Prayers for the EMCI Family from the COB family
The EMCI family at the COB Annual Conference in Florida
😉 mercy me
Gone out to sea
All Aboard Victory!!!
 
July 17th(ish) – First Chibok school girl escapee’s father arrives the US
“Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” We witnessed a wholehearted belief in this statement when one of the fathers of the girls in the States was able to visit with his daughter, for the first time since she left Chibok in the Fall of 2014.
When this GGSS Chibok escapee, arrived our “transition and orientation” home in Jos last September, we didn’t know how mature both educationally and socially she was. It was as if she had spent her entire life in the big city. Much of that growth and appreciation of the world outside of her small town that the exhibited came from her father.
From the moment he left his farm in the village, to his arrival at Capitol Hill, various obstacles that would have deterred many others came his way. Yet, he kept the same calm, hopeful demeanor up till his arrival at the residence where his daughter was staying.
We had hoped he would’ve been able to attend the COB annual conference, but due to some logistical delays, he wasn’t able to make it. However, his trip was not in vain as he was a father-like symbol to the girls while there, and was also present at the following week’s rally in D.C. …
 
Our girl, seeing her dad for the first time in almost a year. They’ve come a long way from Chibok….
 
July 20th week – Buhari @ capitol hill and rally with Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson
On Tuesday, July 21st, Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari met with the U.S. congress at Capitol Hill; the EMCI family in the region was on hand to rally for the cause. Not only were they present, but our cause was further advocated by Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson representing Florida’s 24th District.
We already had an established contact with the Congresswoman when in conjunction with 5 other Congresswomen, she hosted a press conference for the escaped girls schooling in the U.S. to mark the one year date of their abduction on April 15th.
This was the flyer used by to commemorate the one year date of the abduction of the Chibok girls
Rep Wilson welcoming President Buhari to Capitol Hill
Rep Wilson with President Buhari during his visit to Capitol Hill
DC Rally with the Congresswoman
Rep Wilson, rallying for the BBOG cause
Congresswomen Frederica S. Wilson meeting Mrs. Gadzama for the first time
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson with the EMCI family in D.C.
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson with one of the GGSS Chibok Escapees
A pose with the Congresswoman at the Rally in D.C. (President Buhari is somewhere in ‘that building’ in the background)
Rally Rally Rally!
 
July 20th week – Girls’ summer trip back home 
To give some context behind this event, last year when we initially got the opportunity to aid the transition of escaped Chibok Schoolgirls to the U.S., only four girls and their families were bold enough to take the step. These four girls were the first to go in September, and since then, only one had made a trip back to Nigeria. Much like their American counterpart students, we felt the importance of them being able to visit with their families since they had been away for almost a year.
Three girls came home and visited with some of the family they left behind. Tragically, shortly after she had departed to the U.S., one of the girls lost her father to illness and one of her brothers after the village he was at in was attacked by Boko Haram. The fourth girl who was among the first batch of  departures, became orphaned while she was away. She did not travel back this summer.
The Lord bless the souls of the faithful departed
 
One of our Chibok Girls Schooling in the US, reunited with her classmate whom she hadn’t seen since the night of the abduction in April, 2014
Aug 3rd – Back from the U.S. 
Following their month long trip to the States, Mr. and Mrs. Gadzama returned to Abuja in the first week of August. However, the mission didn’t stop there…
 
Aug 4th – Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson in Abuja
On August 4th, the official Bring Back our Girls campaign organization held a rally at the Unity Fountain in Abuja. Representing Florida’s 24th district was Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson yet again to advocate the cause.
Currently, there is one Chibok schoolgirl escapee residing in Nigeria who has not been able to attain a visa to travel to the U.S. in furtherance of her education. This saga has been ongoing since November last year. When the congresswoman heard her story, she stood by her side throughout the rally. We continue to hope and pray that she will be granted the visa in the near future to enable her to be reunited with her sisters overseas and continue her educational ambitions.
 
Thank you for taking the time to follow us on this lifelong journey.
 
Till next time,
 
EMCI
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson at the BBOG rally in Abuja in August. 2 Seats to her right is the aforementioned Chibok Schoolgirl still awaiting her visa to be able to travel
Another Shot of the Congresswoman with our hopeful Chibok schoolgirl, still in Nigeria. We’ll get her there …
 

June Affairs with EMCI

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.

 

EMCI and FWC donating relief materials
EMCI and FWC donating relief materials
Donating items to unaccompanied minors with assistance from NEMA (1)
Donating items to unaccompanied minors with assistance from NEMA (1)
Donating items to unaccompanied minors with assistance from NEMA
Donating items to unaccompanied minors with assistance from NEMA
EMCI and FWC donating items to unaccompanied minors
EMCI and FWC donating items to unaccompanied minors
Donating items to unaccompanied minors
Donating items to unaccompanied minors
EMCI and FWC donating items to unaccompanied minors (2)
EMCI and FWC donating items to unaccompanied minors (1)
EMCI and FWC donating items to unaccompanied minors (1)
EMCI and FWC donating items to unaccompanied minors (2)
EMCI representative preparing gifts for some of the children
EMCI representative preparing gifts for some of the children
staff room for the teachers at the refugee schools
staff room for the teachers at the refugee schools
Dispersing funds to teachers at the refugee schools
Dispersing funds to teachers at the refugee schools
Prayers being said at staff room for the teachers at the refugee schools
Prayers being said at staff room for the teachers at the refugee schools
One at a time... receiving their gifts
One at a time… receiving their gifts
Children queuing up for their gift items
Children queuing up for their gift items
Lots and lots of kids. No kidding!
Lots and lots of kids. No kidding!
SOOOO many kids
SOOOO many kids
Lots and lots of kids... Seriously... No kidding!
Lots and lots of kids… Seriously… No kidding!
We have a winner!!!
We have a winner!!!
EMCI staff going through items received from the EU mission to Nigeria
EMCI staff going through items received from the EU mission to Nigeria
EMCI staff going through items received from the EU mission to Nigeria (1)
EMCI staff going through items received from the EU mission to Nigeria (1)
EMCI staff going through items received from the EU mission to Nigeria (2)
EMCI staff going through items received from the EU mission to Nigeria (2)
EMCI Donating Items to Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru Jos
EMCI Donating Items to Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru Jos
EMCI Donating Items to Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru Jos (1)
EMCI Donating Items to Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru Jos (1)
Smiles from some of the IDPs at Stephanos Camp  at Bukuru, Jos
Smiles from some of the IDPs at Stephanos Camp at Bukuru, Jos
EMCI Donating Items to Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru Jos (2)
EMCI Donating Items to Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru Jos (2)
EMCI founders with the coordinators of the Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru, Jos
EMCI founders with the coordinators of the Stephanos IDP camp at Bukuru, Jos
Cross section of Parents at the meting with two of EMCI board members. And children excited about the visit. (2)
Cross section of Parents at the meting with two of EMCI board members. And children excited about the visit. (1)
Cross section of parents meeting 2 EMCI board members (6)
Cross section of parents meeting 2 EMCI board members (2)
Cross section of parents meeting 2 EMCI board members (2)
Cross section of parents meeting 2 EMCI board members (3)
Pose with Sambisa escapees (1)
Pose with Sambisa escapees (1)
Cross section of parents meeting 2 EMCI board members (5)
Cross section of parents meeting 2 EMCI board members (5)
"Accommodation"
“Accommodation”
A newborn in one the camps in Yola. Let's pray she grows to live in a society better than the one she was born into...
A newborn in one the camps in Yola. Let’s pray she grows to live in a society better than the one she was born into…
Reunion of the 10 today (1)
Reunion of the 10 today (1)
Reunion of the 10 today‏
Reunion of the 10 today‏
Girls taking exams today‏ with one of our American volunteers assisting
Girls taking exams today‏ with one of our American volunteers assisting

A Week in the Life of EMCI

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Welcome to the first official blog post of Education Must Continue Initiative. We have a come a long way in less than a year since our inception. Many individuals and organizations have contributed in one way or another to our mission, without whom, we would be nowhere  near where we are now. We’d like to say thank you to each and everyone of you.

The week of May 3rd – May 9th was a remarkable one. There were events and activities running across our global network, from Oregon to Yola. Here’s a brief insight into the week that was:

Thursday, May 7th

Abuja

We received a donation of various office, educational, and First Aid material from the EU Election Observation Mission.

Jos

Visited and distributed personal care items to the escaped Chibok girls who are currently attending school here.

Friday, May 8th 

Yola

Transported many of the items donated by the EU Election Observation Mission to the IDP camp and EMCI school in Yola

Oregon

Visited with the Chibok girls who are currently attending school there.

Washington D.C.

Paid a courtesy call on Nigerian embassy.

Saturday, May 9th

Yola

Relief distribution to the camp here. This is our ground-zero.

Washington D.C.

Spoke at a conference in DC

 

Thank you for taking the time to learn about this unique experience.

EMCI