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.