Visit to the construction site of Graceland International School.
Our visit to the construction site was a highlight of the trip. It was amazing to see the first building already under construction! The second floor just needed to be roofed so that the internal finish work could be done.
We were also able to see the adjacent tract of land, approximately 160,000 square feet which more than quadruples the size of the school property!. At the time of our visit, it was being leased to farmers during the growing season, but Bishop explained that the balance of the purchase price was due at the beginning of December. The amount needed for the land was $30,000. In addition another $10,000 was needed to put a roof on the existing building. The thought of raising $40,000 in just three and one half months was a bit overwhelming, to say the least, but after discussion and prayer, we pledged to Bishop John that the money would get to Gusau.
Since property boundaries are often marked with cinder blocks, the idea of selling virtual cinder blocks seemed to be a viable option to get the fundraising started- 400 x 400 = 1600 blocks; 1600 blocks x $25 each gives us $40,000- simple! We tearfully ended our stay in Gusau with the $40,000 figure in the forefront and fleshed out the fundraising campaign on the plane ride home. This involved approaching our respective churches, writing to newspapers, approaching friends and personal contacts. While the figure seemed totally out of reach, we took comfort in the chain of events that initially provided the land and the down payment.
Photo: View of adjacent property Photo: View of classroom block
Gusau Trip August
On July 22, three members of the AEP board, a southern Connecticut teacher, and two members of St. Paul’s Church, Akron, Ohio, boarded a plane for Abuja, Nigeria. They traveled with eight members of FaithCare and Trinity Church, Tariffville, bound for the Kateri medical clinic. After almost 24 hours of travel, the team arrived safely, spending the first night in the capital city.
After a day of setting up the clinic, the team prepared for the crowds arriving for medical care on Monday. While four of the six joined the clinic crew on Monday, Don Ghostlaw and Elaine Chagnon traveled with Bishop John to the U.S. Embassy to meet with a representative to help ensure Bishop John’s visa for his next visit in the spring of 2012.
On Wednesday, our team of six split from the others and traveled to Kaduna to visit St. Michael’s College, considered to be a model secondary school. We spent time touring the school and talking with the principal and teachers. The excellent dialogue gave us a wealth of information about education in Nigeria. Armed with this information we left Kaduna for Gusau. Traveling north took about four hours, with numerous roadblocks designed to slow traffic through the many small villages we had to pass through on our way to Gusau.
Finally, we arrived in Gusau, on Thursday 28, 2011. What a joy to enter Bishop’s compound! We were warmly greeted, allowed to freshen up, and given a meal. Three of bishop’s six children were at home, so meeting them along with his wife, Helen, was very special.
Our next few days were filled with meetings. We were able to spend time at Christ Cathedral to observe the primary school. We met with teachers, parents, and students, gathered information, and shared ideas regarding the construction of Graceland International School.
The conversations were fruitful with all parties joining the dialogue. Parents and teachers alike shared their passion for a quality education for the children. Their combined vision for Graceland International School includes a state-of-the-art science and technology building.
They also requested athletic fields and dormitories for both staff and students. This will require significantly more space than the plot they own. By happy coincidence, a large adjacent parcel of land was for sale. Bishop John had already placed a 50% down payment of $30,000 on the property. It agreed that a fundraiser was needed to raise the additional $30,000 upon our return to the USA.
In the evening, we met with the building committee and listened to their plans and ideas. Their vision for the school was encouraging in its scope.