Finding ways to get children to school is a common problem for the schools we work with in Nigeria. There is no centralized bus service as in the United States. Schools must either purchase and maintain their own vehicles or count on children walking to school or parental drop-off.
Buses in Nigeria are generally 15-passenger vans that are extremely costly to purchase new, somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 US. While a bargain here in the states, that figure represents a king’s ransom in the areas where we work. The vans do not have the heavy-duty suspension of a typical school bus and have limited student seating.
Bishop Markus Dogo of Kafanchan has been saving funds and approached Bob Chagnon, husband of AEP board member Elaine Chagnon, about the possibility of shipping used school buses to Nigeria. Bob, recently retired from DATTCO Bus Company in New Britain, CT, consulted several employees and the search began.
Two 28-passenger “mini” buses have been located. Through a connection with a Nigerian friend living in New York, arrangements have been made to ship the two buses, packed with barrels of school supplies, to the port city of Lagos. AEP is currently running a Facebook fundraiser to secure funds to pay all shipping costs. Bishop Markus, having just transferred money to DATTCO for payment of the buses, is working to secure additional funds to pay for the taxes at the port.
We hope to soon have the shipping funds in hand and are ready to host a socially-distanced, safe packing “party”. Thanks to DATTCO for their help in locating the buses.