Shipping materials to Nigeria has always been problematic, with no direct route other than shipping through DHL at exorbitant cost. Enter the Rev. Ben Nnaji, Priest-in-Charge of St. Edmund’s Church in the Bronx, New York. He had befriended Bishop John several years ago; Elaine Chagnon was asked by Bishop John to contact him. Rev. Nnaji had a contact who ships regularly to Lagos, Nigeria. Through the generosity of the Women’s Guild at St. Edmunds’s, the cost of shipping one barrel was covered. AEP covered the cost of a second barrel. On September 22, Elaine and son Nate headed to the Bronx to load the barrels with books. At this point, the books are enroute and should arrive before Christmas. One of our Nigerian team members will make the trip to Lagos to bring the books north to Gusau.
Carly Hajducky, a middle school student from St. Paul’s Church, Huntington, had an idea to help AEP. After hearing that a need existed for a library, the energetic young woman decided to collect books. She submitted her proposal to the Rev. Amjad Samuel, an AEP Board member for approval...and also to the Girl Scout Council for her Silver Star Award.
After receiving the go-ahead from both organizations, the drive was on! Carly worked tirelessly to collect 525 volumes. She catalogued each volume, placing a dedica- tion label in each one. In addition, she had bookmarks, several book bins, and a binder with the catalogued list to add to her donation.
On September 17, Elaine Chagnon was invited to St. Paul’s to address the congregation with Carly. At the conclusion of the service, the church picnic provided Elaine with the opportunity to become better acquainted with Carly and her parents. The books were presented and loaded!
It was a heartwarming experience to chat with the Hajducky family and appreciate their generosity and compassion. AEP is grateful for the effort and special care Carly took to make the drive such a success. The books will provide the library space with a great starting collection. On behalf of the students at GIS, AEP expresses its sincere thanks!
Benefit Dinner a Success!
On Saturday, February 23, the AEP Board hosted its second benefit dinner in support of Graceland International School in Gusau, Nigeria. Originally planned for April 2012, the dinner was rescheduled when our speaker, Bishop John Danbinta of Gusau, was unable to obtain a travel visa until August 2012.
As soon as we got word that Bishop John had the visa, we started planning his visit in partnership with St. Paul’s Church of Akron, Ohio. Between Bishop John’s commitments in Nigeria and the many people in the United States who wanted to hear about Africa Education Partnership and Graceland international School, we decided the best time for his visit was late February/early March. In addition to the AEP benefit dinner at St. Peter’s, his itinerary included:
• Visiting with friends he met while studying at Hartford Seminary and people who have traveled to Gusau
• Speaking at various venues in Connecticut - St. Peter’s Church, First Cathedral in Bloomfield, and Trinity Church in Tariffville
• Traveling to Akron to speak at St. Paul’s, meet with church
April 28 Fundraising Banquet.
On April 28, we will hold a banquet to raise additional funding in order to continue this work. Please join us and learn more about this unique opportunity. Finally, we are looking forward to Bishop John’s presence at the banquet. He will only be able to join us if the U.S. Embassy approves his visa application. Even if Bishop can’t be with us in person, the dinner will be a great opportunity to celebrate the progress made on Grace International School to date, and to encourage your future support. Mark your calendars!
Mother’s Day Dinner Dance
On Saturday evening, May 7, 2011, AEP sponsored a Mother’s Day Dinner Dance fundraiser for Graceland Iternational School at TasteBuds in East Hartford. Attendees were treated to an array of appetizers while AEP board members greeted guests. A buffet-style dinner was enjoyed by all.
AEP President Don Ghostlaw addressed the diners and shared information regarding the progress of the Gusau school project.
For the remainder of the evening, music was provided for dancing enjoyment. Jon Grenier and his band donated their time and have asked to make this an annual event. AEP members discussed holding the event closer to Valentine’s Day. This was a great first time event that promises to be even better next year!
Sincere thanks go to board member Amy Crenshaw for her hours of organizing and planning this fundraising event – awesome job!
Pledge Drive for Graceland International School.
The energy was contagious and we were excited to partner with them by raising money for this school, starting with the banquet held in October of 2009. The total cost of the complex is somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000, a very small amount by American standards.
Right: A view of foundation construction during the early stages of construction.
Now we need your help more than ever. While the initial fundraising effort yielded an amazing $39,000, the monies have been almost depleted with the construction of the first classroom building. Please consider making a donation to help complete the first classroom building - it needs a roof!
The estimate for the whole project is $350,000.
In October 2009, we held a banquet at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, South Windsor, Connecticut, to raise money for the first phase of the project, which was to build a two storey block of classrooms. We invited Bishop John Danbinta to come from Gusau, Nigeria to speak at the banquet and to present his vision for Graceland International School.
One hundred and ten people attended from all over Connecticut, included among the attendees was a large group of expatiate Nigerians interested in helping to develop a school that would be open to all students regardless of gender, religion or ethnic background.
The menu was three courses Chicken Cordon Bleu as the main course.
After the dinner Bishop John presented the need and vision for Graceland International School. He emphasised the fact that the school would offer equal opportunities to girls, and in a region where ethnic and sectarian tensions run high the school would build bridges of peace between these different groups.
After Bishop John’s speech, Mr. Don Ghostlaw our board chairperson presented the financial challenge of such a large project. He called on those present to make a 3 year pledge toward the building of the school. Once all the pledges were in we had raised $39,500, some of the money was given as a one time gift, other money was promised over a three year period.