Phase one of Graceland International School saw the delivery of building materials, such as stone, sand and wood for the scaffolding. These items were delivered by truck and unusually, for us in the west, by camels. Once these materials were on site and laborers hired, the work of marking out the footprint of the first building was undertaken. The school committee has purchased their own concrete-block making machine. They made and stockpiled blocks in readiness for the building. Once the trenches for the foundations were dug and the foundations completed, the work of erecting the walls started.
Before long the walls were up. All was soon ready to begin the second floor.
Our first project is in Zamfara State in north west corner of Nigeria. The economy of Zamfara State is principally agricultural, and the educational opportunities are limited.
Our partners in Gusau are men and women of vision and dedication. Their vision includes providing a co-educational, non-discriminatory learning experience of high academic standard, open to all children regardless of ethnic or religious background. Named Graceland International School, the plan for this project is to accommodate up to approximately 500 children at both the primary and secondary levels.
Financial Accountability Procedures.
During our fact-finding mission in February 2009, we asked our Nigerian Partners to set up a bank account in order to receive the funds wired for the US for the project. A system of financial accountability and reporting was devised, whereby they would send us an estimate of material and labor costs. Designated funds would be wired to their dedicated bank account in Nigeria. After the funds were exhausted, photos and an accounting of expenses would be sent to AEP. After board review, the next installment would be wired to Nigeria.
We opened an account in the name of AEP with our bank in Connecticut to receive donations from US supporters.
This system has worked very well for the last nine years.
At our first fundraising banquet we received pledges amounting to a total of $39,000. These funds were used start on the first phase of the project.
In addition to the pledge drive, we also made the needs of the project known as widely as possible through newsletter, website and word of mouth. These efforts have brought in a steady flow of donations from individuals.
We have also approached several small foundations and received grants for specific needs such as textbooks, a copy machine and computers for the school office.
It is hard to believe that it has been just over a year since our fundraising banquet in support of Grace International School in Gusau, Nigeria. Our friend, Bishop John Danbinta, shared his vision of a school in his diocese that would provide a quality education for all children, regardless of gender, faith or ethnic background. The people of the Gusau Diocese have embraced the idea and are excited about this new school.
In February of 2009, several board members made the trip to Gusau to see the land that was purchased for Grace International School. The Nigerian committee established to oversee the project was there to greet and discuss plans for the school compound of three classroom buildings and an additional building to house teachers. Their energy and enthusiasm 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!
Above: The first floor of building one is completed and is awaiting a roof!
The school is being built in a new housing development that is rapidly expanding as many new homes are built.