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 (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
“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
We received a donation of various office, educational, and First Aid material from the EU Election Observation Mission.
Visited and distributed personal care items to the escaped Chibok girls who are currently attending school here.
Friday, May 8th
Transported many of the items donated by the EU Election Observation Mission to the IDP camp and EMCI school in Yola
Visited with the Chibok girls who are currently attending school there.
Paid a courtesy call on Nigerian embassy.
Saturday, May 9th
Relief distribution to the camp here. This is our ground-zero.
Spoke at a conference in DC
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this unique experience.