One of the real challenges faced by our friends in Gusau, Nigeria is the fact that they live about 150 miles from the encroaching Sahara Desert. With the shifting climate trends, hotter, more dry weather extremes are a fact of life for about six months of the year. The issue of powdery and/or gritty dust is an everyday occurrence...and it settles everywhere. It is extremely difficult to get rid of it by sweeping or dusting- hence the computer “dust bags” shown in a previous post.
Despite challenges, the construction of the girls’ dormitory is progressing. A second installment of funds has been sent and received.
Our latest project: a girls' dormitory, kitchen, and dining hall at Graceland International School.
I was able to meet with a small group of teachers and the administrative team to review the progress made at the school.
We were very excited to get a tour of the school after our survey of the hospital. The changes in just a year’s time were quite remarkable. The exam hall was completed and is truly beautiful.
We were woken at 5 am by the dawn call to prayer from all the neighboring mosques:
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar: God is great,
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but God;
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God;
Hasten to prayer, hasten to prayer.
Prayer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep.
The call goes out 5 times a day, the last after dark; it is a regular reminder that Zamfara State, like the other the northern states of Nigeria, is overwhelmingly Muslim.
After breakfast, we were taken to the Cathedral Church of Christ the King. The Cathedral compound consists of the Cathedral itself, a community center and several other buildings including a primary school and two smaller churches, one Igbo speaking, the other Yoruba.
During the Cathedral Church service, we each brought greetings and explained the purpose of our mission..
Lunch, rest, supper and back to the Cathedral to discuss with the board of the Diocese and their Education committee...our decision to partner with them to build Graceland International School was a focus of discussion. We were very encouraged by the evident enthusiasm for the project and the thoughtful comments and insights that were shared by the community leaders.
Why this project is important
Like parents everywhere, these folks wish to provide a quality education for their children, in an environment free of ethnic, gender, and religious discrimination. Our Nigerian partners recognize that girls need to have the same opportunities for a quality education as boys. Our partners also recognize that having an educational milieu that is free of discrimination ethnically and religiously will help to promote peace in the society at large.
Graceland International School will therefore accept students from every background. The school will aim to offer a high academic standard, an environment that fosters understanding between different ethnic and religious communities.
Graceland International School building committee
After returning from church, we all rested a bit. We returned to the church at 5:00 for a meeting with the school building committee - those interested in building the secondary school. This was a very fruitful meeting. We explained our purpose in gathering data to build the school, and listened as the building committee described their vision to us. It was really a wonderful meeting, and as tired as the Americans were, I think we all communicated nicely. We left the meeting to return to Bishop John's house for dinner feeling very satisfied by the enthusiasm of the Diocese for our mission.