His vision of the power of education is one that is sorely needed in Nigeria, where school attendance even at the most basic level is far from where it should be. This lack of access to education is hampering the economic and community development of Nigeria, especially in the Northern States where school attendance is the lowest in the nation.
Mandela (aka Madiba, his clan name), understood the power that education has to overcome prejudice and promote reconciliation. “We are steadily but surely introducing education that enables our children to exploit their similarities and common goals, while appreciating the strength in their diversity.” He believed that children educated together would do much to eliminate the historical racial divides that plagued South Africa since the arrival of European colonists in the mid-17th. Century.
Africa Education Partnership has a similar vision, we and our partners in Nigeria want Graceland International School to provide a quality education for boys and girls from all backgrounds, regardless of religious and ethnic background. One of our stated ams is in the spirit of Nelson Mandela’s vision to “promote peace, reconciliation and gender equality in education”
We welcome our very first Guest Blogger the Revd. Amjad Samuel.
What do you call an event that brings together churches, youth, Irish music, concert goers, and sandwiches to help change the world through education halfway around the world? On August 1, 2018 Africa Education Partnership created a beautiful synergy between a diverse gathering of interest groups to raise over a thousand dollars for Graceland International School in Gusau, Zamfara State of Nigeria.
Last year St. Paul’s Episcopal Church youth, Carly Hajducky, had collected books for Graceland School. This year she took on the challenge of organizing and promoting a fundraiser for Graceland. She designed a beautiful flier, and with the help of her mom, Jody Wilson, she placed the flier at different locations in Shelton, CT. She created an engaging campaign on social media to promote this event. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church also paid to boost Carly’s campaign on Facebook.
The response to Carly’s hard work and the popularity of the Highland Rovers Band resulted in a crowd of over 400 people gathering on the Huntington Green for a beautiful summer concert with family, friends and pets.
AEP, through some timely effort by Peter Dewberry – an AEP board member, provided Carly and her team of volunteers some simple and yet eye-catching T-Shirts. St. Paul’s Mission and Evangelism Committee, Vestry, and parishioners wore those T-shirts as they joined Carly and her team.
Elaine Chagnon, a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Tariffville, CT and AEP board member, organized a beautiful information booth. Her booth included poster size photos of Graceland International School through the various stages of its growth, telling the story of collaboration and success in some very effective ways. Elaine also had newsletters and brochures sharing information and news about the various activities surrounding AEP’s commitment to Graceland. All this together created a presence for AEP on the Huntington Green that simply could not be missed!
Adding to this presence was The Whey Station Food Truck. The Whey Station is a gourmet sandwich food truck company. On the day of the event, it generously donated all its income – including the cost of the sandwiches and the time of its staff and other overheads – for this cause. This is the second time this year that The Whey Station has made such an incredibly generous contribution to AEP. We are deeply appreciative of their generosity.
The sandwich truck, the information booth, and the supporting team were all in place by 6:30PM when the crowd started gathering to listen to the Highland Rovers, a popular Irish music band from Shelton, CT. As the concert goers walked to the green for the concert at 7PM, the AEP team started interacting with them and sharing with them the story of Graceland International School. The Highland Rovers encouraged people to buy the sandwiches and support the cause. In just two hours the team raised over four hundred dollars in direct donations from the most cooperative crowd! The online donations and checks are still trickling in. Please feel free to donate to this fundraiser during the month of August.
The net result of the event is an important reminder: we can all come together, from all different walks of life, to create a better world. Musicians, concert goers, church members, young, not so young, businesses, passers-by, anyone can join in to change the world by building schools in parts of the world that may not otherwise afford to do it on their own. And yes, if you are reading it online, you can go to www.africaep.org right now and contribute to keep this important work going; there is no reason not to!
Photo: The AEP team that made the event so successful.
Public transportation is no existent in Gusau, so students and teachers must either walk or be driven to school by parents, since many parents or teachers don’t own cars, this is not an option for most students. Another possibility is to hail one of the many scooters that carry passengers or one of the three-wheeled motorized taxis (aka Kekes) that are ubiquitous in every Nigerian city. These modes of transportation are somewhat risky, especially the Keke, There are swarms of Kekes in most Nigerian cities. These yellow, noisy and slightly dangerous, auto rickshaws and their drivers are sometimes known as “the wild bunch”.
To help alleviate this problem for our students and teachers, AEP has bought two buses for Graceland International School. Our partners have greatly appreciated these buses.
The board of AEP has allocated funds for upgrades to the classrooms of Graceland International School. Specifically these upgrades are for the addition of white boards for each classroom as well as ceiling fans.
Due to the very hot climate the addition of ceiling fans will make for a much more comfortable teaching and learning environment. As funds become available we will be providing further upgrades to enhance the teaching and learning environment.
We would like to invite you to donate to Africa Education Partnership. Please go to the donate button on the homepage to make your donation. This is a secure method of donating directly to our cause.
Music, Fun and Good Food
St. Paul’s Church, Huntington, Connecticut
will hold a fundraiser to benefit Graceland International School, Gusau, Nigeria.
The event will take place on Wednesday, August 1st., on the green and feature a concert by the very poplar band, The Highland Rovers, and starts at 7 pm.
The Whey Station, a food truck specializing in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, will be on hand to provide good food for all to enjoy. The Whey Station, which helped AEP last fall, has generously offered to donate the proceeds from the evening’s food sales to AEP for the benefit of Graceland International School.
Carly Hajducky, the woman who collected 400 books for Graceland International School, has taken charge of organizing and publicity.
Grab your lawn chairs and join us for a night of music, fun and good food.
Rain Date Thursday, August 2nd.
During our week in Gusau at Graceland International School, Bishop John Danbinta took time to give a tour of Graceland Hospital, currently under construction. As Gusau is a capital city, a small clinic would not suffice, so a large hospital facility is in the works. The hospital will provide not only basic medical care but surgery and maternity services as well. Being branded under the school name will strengthen the connection between medical care and education. Students from the school will be able to get first-hand experience in the medical fields by walking through the gate.
This is an ambitious project that has received funds from Kateri Medical Services, Inc., another NGO based in Tarriffvile, CT. The plan is to have a dedication of the Graceland International School examination hall and the hospital in October of 2018. Plans are underway for a medical outreach program at the new hospital facility during that time as well.
The board of Africa Education Partnership rejoices with our partners in Gusau for the fact that this hospital will be adjacent to Graceland International School. Co-branding of the school and the hospital will enhance both the school and the hospital in the eyes of the local community.
Many of the students at Graceland school aspire to be doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, with the hospital adjacent to the school, the students will have a great opportunity to gain practical experience.
The library at Graceland International School is very inadequate both in so far as books are concerned and in the lack of shelves for the books that they do have. Many of the books that the library does have are stacked in a few piles along the walls.
It is for this reason that we have shipped three barrels of resource textbooks and other materials to help stock the Library at Graceland International School. We are sending three more barrels this summer. The books that we have gathered to ship have been acquired from two Connecticut school systems, Granby and South Windsor.
Most of the books we are sending are in the fields of math, science and technology.
Sachin Menon, the young man on the left and a recent graduate of South Windsor High School secured 8 boxes of math, science and technology textbooks for Graceland International School, Gusau, Nigeria. He responded magnificently to the request I made in our church, St. Peter’s, South Windsor for textbooks.
He approached the principal of the South Windsor High for books that were no longer needed at the school. These books will be placed in the Library of the of Grace school as a resource for both teachers and students.
One of our board members, Mrs. Elaine Chagnon, recently retired from the Granby school system, has secured many more books for shipping to Nigeria. Sachin’s “haul” will join them and be taken to St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church in the Bronx, where we will pack them into barrels for shipment to Nigeria.
The Rev. Fr. Benjamin Udochukwu, a Nigerian ex-pat and pastor of St. Edmund’s, regularly uses this method to ship stuff to Nigeria. It costs $250 to ship one barrel, this includes the cost of the barrel. We expect to be shipping a total of at least 3 barrels possibly 4.
If you wish to help by making a donation toward this expense, please visit our website www.africaep.org and use the secure donate button to make your donation. Spend some time browsing our website, you will learn so much about Graceland International School.
A persistent problem in the region is finding a regular supply of clean water for drinking and washing. With this in mind our partners in Gusau have decided that they should drill a borehole on the school property to supply both the school and the adjoining Graceland clinic.
The Africa Education Partnership board has responded positively to this request and has allocated funds for this project. Funding for this project is a co-operative effort with Kateri Medical Clinics who have provided half of the $5000.00 cost.
Avon-Canton Rotary Club.
AEP board member Elaine Chagnon presented the need for clean water at the school to the the Avon-Canton Rotary Club, We are pleased to report that they decided to donate $1000.00 toward the cost of the borehole.
At the June meeting of the club, they presented Mrs. Chagnon with a check for $1000.00, which she accepted on behalf of Africa Education Partnership. We are very grateful to the Avon-Canton Rotary Club for their generous donation.