October Affairs with EMCI

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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

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