Your Help is Needed Now More Than Ever! - Part 2
AEP began in 2009 to support Bishop John Danbinta's vision to provide educational opportunities to children of all faiths, regardless of gender or ethnicity in a less fortunate part of the world. We learned during our 2009 trip to Nigeria that certain school children in northern Nigeria were discriminated against, and that our partners live very close to an area that has, for years, been a hotbed of religious tension and violence. We started with the same goal we have today – to educate children of different faiths side-by-side without discrimination so that they learn together how to resolve their differences by non-violent means.
We knew nothing of Boko Haram (which had just formed in 2009), or that their acts would today represent the most extreme violence in the region, all in the name of stamping out modern education.
We always knew that our work was important. Only through the light of wisdom that shines more clearly in the dark shadows of tragedy have we recently understood our work to also be urgent. The many writings similar to Lola Shoneyin’s article, written in response to the mass kidnapping of Nigerian school girls, have revealed much greater insight into just how dire the state of education is in northern Nigeria.
We have gained an appreciation for the challenges facing northern Nigerian school girls – challenges not all that different from those documented in other parts of Africa (another informative article discussing non- profit assistance for female students in Zamfara state is at http://tinyurl.com/pahqwzz). As Ms. Shoneyin points out in her article, the World Bank recently reported that Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school in the world.
We are not only helping our partners provide an education of reconciliation over violence – we are indeed helping them provide an education in the first place. It is no wonder that demand for additional classroom space at Graceland International is so high, with many families asking when the second classroom block will be ready.
But we need your help and the help of everyone you know who has a passion for the power of education, for ensuring that education is made equally available to both girls and boys, and for fighting against extremist violence and fear.
You can either donate directly from www.africaep.org, or send a check payable to Africa Education Partnership, 99 Sand Hill Road, South Windsor, CT 06074. All of your donations are tax deductible. If you have made a pledge, consider paying ahead to help us raise enough money to complete the second classroom block before the start of this academic year. On behalf of the AEP Board, thank you for your continued support, and especially for helping us reach our goal of opening the second block of classrooms by the start of the upcoming academic year.
Your Help is Needed Now More Than Ever!
We are reminded weekly about why we continue to work so hard with and for our mission partners in Nigeria.
As this newsletter goes to press, disturbing news from northern Nigeria flows in: the kidnapping of an estimated 276 school girls in the northeast state of Borno, the bombings in Jos, Kano and Abuja, and additional killings in northeastern Nigeria, including 57 male students. Extremists of the Boko Haram group have taken many innocent lives (over 3,000 this year alone by one count) and continue to press their agenda against Western (secular) education and support imposing Sharia law throughout Nigeria.
In the words of Nigerian poet and novelist Lola Shoneyin, “The most effective way to defeat [these extremists] and everything [they] believe in is to ensure children, especially girls in northern Nigeria, receive a good education.” See Ms. Shoneyin’s exceptionally informative and very timely article at http://tinyurl.com/m4v3nql. As we continue to support our partners in Nigeria, with your generous assistance we also continue to do just as Ms. Shoneyin urges – help our partners ensure that children in northern Nigeria receive a good education.
Contributions from individuals and groups remain our most important and consistent source of income. Without people like you stepping up at the grassroots level, the Graceland International School project would not be possible. With your help, we have raised just over $170,000, sending $139,000 to Nigeria to complete the first classroom block and start the second block. An additional $10,000 is ready to send!
In light of recent activities, many in northern Nigeria who have been aware of the state of education have now come forward in written articles and blogs. From these writings we in the U.S. have come to understand and better appreciate the importance of collective accomplishments thus far, and just how critical it is that we continue to move ahead.
Building Two has a Roof!
AEP members recently received photos of the new roof just completed on Classroom Block 2!
The roof matches the bright blue of Classroom Block 1. The addition of the second building with its seven new classrooms now provides space for another 150-200 students. Additional funds have just been wired to Gusau to complete the interior work in the building, including plastering, electrical wiring, and classroom fixtures.
This structure was begun early last spring when the original building reached capacity. Parents continued to bring children in to register for classes. Originally designated to be a secondary school complex, Graceland International now houses students of all ages.
Now that Nigeria has been declared ebola-free, students can head back to classes. Schools in Nigeria had been shut down by the government while the virus was contained and were recently reopened at the end of October.
Bishop John Danbinta has plans to return to the U.S. in the spring of 2015. He will be traveling with his wife, Helen, who has just received word that her visa application has been approved. This will be her first trip out of Nigeria! The trip is tentatively scheduled for May, but at this point, travel plans are still in the discussion stage.
While here, the Danbintas plan to spend time in both Connecticut and Ohio, visiting the partner churches and spending time with supporters.
A benefit dinner is now in the planning stages in order to raise funds for a bus and the third school building.
We are extremely excited to have Helen travel this time. The message she brings will give everyone first-hand understanding of a woman’s perspective of life in a society where women often struggle for social equality. We look forward to her speech.