Our recent community development outreach was held in collaboration with the Abia State University, (ABSU) Uturu, Nigeria. During the outreach we carried out a two weeks workshop / seminar with 20 participants on Community/Primary Health Care for health educators, medical practitioners and professionals, and for over 45 educators and teachers of the University’s staff schools (high and primary). A four days leadership and management seminars was also conducted for 98 senior administrative non-teaching staff of the same University.
The report coming to us from the Vice Chancellor of the University indicates that many lives were touched and a great impact made among the leadership – teaching and non-teaching staff of the University. Listen to the following comments from various participants;
“Almost anything can be bought at a reduced price except lasting satisfaction, which we have gotten during this seminar. Thanks!”
“You are someone who perfectly understands others, share their problems, joy and sorrows. Someone who springs up hope in our deep and pitiable predicament. Someone whose gently advice and material encouragement can brighten a dark moment. A person on whom one can confidently fall back without breaking one’s neck. Yes, you are that someone to us”.
(Staff of ABSU Staff School & Clinic).
Another participant in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the University wrote;
“I am overjoyed to join other members of ABSU community to express my profound appreciation to you for initiating and carrying out the just concluded two-week train-the-trainers seminar/workshop for us by the Link International Ministries team from Canada. In fact, I should say that our interactions with the wonderful team members is so far, the best thing that has happened in the lives of the non-teching staff of ABSU. I am glad that the seminar/workshop has became an annual event.. Thank you very much. This participant continued by saying, “In order to ensure that better knowledge and skills of management procedures acquired by the administrative staff of the University during the seminar/workshop are deep-rooted in the ABSU non-teaching staff and applied in real life situations, may I suggest that a follow-up measure be adopted as soon as possible by establishing a unit within the University for administrative staff training”.
Free Medical Treatment:
Before departing from Canada we received medicines and medications from two Canadian based health organizations and from various drug stores and doctors from the greater Vancouver and Victoria Areas that we could use for free medical treatment. We were able to conduct two Saturdays of free medical treatment for over 500 needy young and old, boys and girls and men and women from all works of life of Old Umuahia in the Umuahia South Local government areas of Abia State. You can’t just interpret the joys on the faces of the people as they received treatments and medicines from our medical team members who worked with doctors and nurses drawn from the Federal Health Centre, Umuahia. Before we left that area, individuals were coming reporting healing from high blood pressure, malaria, arthritis, aches and pains of all kinds, etc. What a joy it is to be a part of this kind of ministry that brings joy to the heart and smile back on the faces of the masses. To God alone is the glory.
AIDS’ Orphans Sponsorship Program:
In the midst of our tight schedule, we were able to meet with the AIDS orphans we sponsor on monthly bases and with those that are still in need of sponsorship. What a joy that beams from their faces when they came face-to-face for the first time with some sponsors and received gifts from them. We could not hold back our tears. Being a part of a mission of hope for the hopeless cannot be overemphasized. We still need sponsors. Contact us should you decide to be a sponsor. It is $50 (Cdn) a month.
School Kits For School Children:
The team were able to distribute school kits to over 500 Primary and Secondary school children from various schools within the communities we worked. Words cannot describe the joys on the faces of the children and their teachers for receiving the kits.
University Environmental Assessment:
One of our team members Mr. Don St. Pierre, made a survey of the environmental assessment of the University and discovered that there is soil erosion. He submitted an interim report to the Vice Chancellor making some recommendations on how the erosion could be managed. In his concluding statement to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr. St. Pierre said,
“Environment is a holistic concept. It encompasses much more than just the biological and landscaping component. The learning environment also includes the conditions of the physical plant: The buildings, services and facilities. A beautiful environment on the outside will not compensate for a poor environment on the inside. The long-term goal should encompass both aspects”.
He is presently following up his survey by consulting with Canadian some Canadian engineers on what best to do to manage the growing soil erosion within the University endowment land.
Diversity of the Team Members:
On our team for this summer outreach we have educators, nurses, administrators, a scientist and students. Our ages ranges from 87 years old to 16 years old, each brought skills that complemented one another’s and each one played a vital role that enabled us to accomplish our targeted goal thereby making our mission an effective and fulfilled mission.
We are in the process of putting together another team for summer 2007. Should you be interested on being a member of the team, please contact our Canadian office immediately.
Paul Ndukwe (Rev.)
A NIGERIAN CLASSROOM
(EXCERPTS FROM MY TEACHING JOURNAL)
This morning I went to meet the students I will be working with at Wings of Faith School. Since they are still finishing up exams, I don’t start the program until next week. First thing when I meet the head mistress, I am told that they had forgotten to tell me that the students would be on summer holidays halfway through the two weeks I was to be teaching. I’m thinking,
“Ok – I guess I’ll fit two weeks into one! So much for planning!” However, as she took me from class to class introducing me, she would ask the students if they would like to come to school for an extra week for a science lessons with Mrs. Lisa. Without hesitation every single student enthusiastically raised their hands and agreed eagerly to come! Now, not only will they be there on their break, but I also have double the number of students I thought I’d have! This is not Canada!.
First day of teaching – Tough crowd! I came in with piles of creative, fun, get-to-know you games and activities hoping to get the kids more comfortable with me. Silent, straight faces stared back at me. Maybe there’s not usually a lot of student interaction in the classroom. Needless to say, I scrapped my intro plans and jumped straight into the first lesson! All in all, the biggest lesson I learned today is that Nigerian education involves a great deal of rote memorization.
Now that me and the students have gotten used to each others differences, I can feel them warming up and becoming much more comfortable trying new things. Today we did rock testing. This was the first attempt at giving a more independent and demanding task. I think once they got the hang of it they began to enjoy it! I know the sticker incentives also have something to do with it!
Today was the best day of school so far! I was dropped off by the bus and as soon as I stepped out the door, I was swarmed by my students wanting to carry my boxes and hold my arm! This is the picture of the dream I’ve had to teach in Africa since I was a little girl. I really had to step outside of myself and thank God for fulfilling this desire. How often do you really get to check off one of the top three things on your ‘Life’s To Do’ list!
I’ve learned to find a balance between the rigidity of the schooling here and the freedom of schooling in Canada; Enough discipline and instruction to curb the chaos, with enough freedom to allow their minds to think a little differently. After all, it is in these areas of unfamiliarity and discomfort that we learn and grow best!