Me at Lucy's Wedding. The sun does shine in England!

Me at Lucy's Wedding. The sun does shine in England!
Me still in England!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Ilorin: Hope Orphanage

While  was in Ilorin I also went back to Hope Orphanage. A friend had donated money for the orphanage and I was able to buy 2 big bags of rice for them. Tunji helped me to get a good price for the rice and Alatise drove Stefan, Miranda and myself to the orphanage.
There have been big changes in the last two years. There are more buildings-separate sleeping houses for boys ad girls and a clinic has been started. They are also drawing up plans for a school on the site.

 There are now 30 children. First we went to the nursery. This baby was born to a woman who is paralysed and did not even know she was pregnant. Another baby had been born to a young student and two others had mothers with mental health issues. This baby was very tiny and they are keeping him well wrapped up to maintain his body temperature.

All the babies looked well and happy.

 They are hoping to move them to a bigger place soon so thy can all have their own cot.
 It was good to see how the children had grown. Grace is 10 now and doing really well.
 They were having their dinner when we arrived.
 The children were shy with us at first but soon relaxed!
 Stefan was  great hit with the little boys!
 Christie Omolehin has also 'rescued' two women who had been roaming the streets. People regarded them as 'mad' but she took them in, got them medical attention and they are now able to function normally. The one woman is hoping o go back to her village soon and be reunited with her children and the other young girl is helping out at the orphanage now,
Christie receives no money from the state and relies on donations. Without her, some of these children would not have survived and the babies keep arriving!

Back in Ilorin: Books for Kwara

The second week I flew to Ilorin. With the help of St David's church in Eastham I had raised £1100 for 'Books for Kwara'. I was quite nervous travelling with so much money but all went well.
 Miranda and Stefan are VSO volunteers in Ilorin now and they had set up meetings in book shops for me. We bought most of the books from a shop that sold West African Publishers books. They are really great books full of stories relevant to Nigerian children and Miranda and Sheriff did a great job bargaining so we got a good deal.
Tunji and Sheriff (SSIT) took us to the bookshop-called 'Glorious Books'.
 We also got books from Macmillan.
These are Macmillan 'Storyworlds' also relevant to Nigerian children.

 We went to the plastics factory and bought 10 crates with lids. There are over 100 books in every box. I also put Jolly Phonics books donated by Chris Jolly in the boxes. Chris also donated Jolly Phonics pens which contain pictures of the actions for the sounds and these are going to be given to the teachers. Barclays bank also provided biros for the pupils and these are also in the boxes.
Here you can see  the books and the biros.

As soon as schools open next week the boxes of books and pens will be delivered. Tunji and Sheriff have chosen 10 schools to receive the boxes and will monitor the impact they have on the pupils' learning. I also gave letters written by Eastham Brownies to Tunde, the SSIT in Oro and he will deliver them to St James school in Oro. This school received a box when I was working in Ilorin ad were keen to hear from English children.

Mission accomplished! Thank you so much everyone who made this possible!

Training in Abuja

Yes, here I am back in Nigeria! I spent a week training teachers at Springhall British School in Abuja. It was very different from my previous trainings in public schools! I was made very welcome and it was a rewarding experience. I was asked to give training on the British Literacy and Numeracy frameworks. The following week I flew to Ilorin to buy books for the 'Books for Kwara' appeal.
Here are photos from the Jolly Phonics training session. They loved the 'long a' snails!

The split digraph glasses were a hit too.

The whiteboard software was also enjoyed and has been ordered!

On the 'nice' web they posted comments on the training! video

There wasn't much time for sitting around!
I was really looked after. On the Wednesday I lost my passport! I had been to the MTN office in the Hilton Hotel to register a sim card at 1.30. At 10.30 I discovered I did not have my passport and the last time I had seen it was when It was in the scanning machine at the MTN office! David, the head teacher's husband, was wonderful and drove me to the Hilton. I was told no-one had seen it but I persuaded them to let me look in the MTN office. I lifted the lid of the scanner and there it was!!!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Godfrey takes me out!

Godfrey was more thana driver. He really looked out for me. On Friday afternoon he arrived at the hotel with his sister Joy. They took me to places around Owerri. We looked at a very splendid hotel. Later we walked around the GRA which was good as I had been stuck in the hotel all week.
 Then we went to the farm. I saw lots of fruit trees-mangoes, paw paws and plantains growing. Joy gave me some palm oil kernels to try and grow back home.
This is the fish farm. They really jumped high when the food was thown in.

This is a plantain tree!

Pine kernels.

It was so good to see thigs growing in Nigeria and so much green. Godfrey and Joy were so welcoming.

They took me for a traditional Nigerian meal. I failed miserably. I really couldn't eat the cat fish in the ochre soup and found the wheat difficult too. However I think the staff were quite pleased when I took their photo!

It was a great end to a very successful week.

Numeracy Training Highlights

The teachers were great. They loved the counting songs. Here we are singing 'Five Little Ducks'.

We made dice, number lines and lots of numeracy resources.

The teachers were keen to come out and demonstrate lessons.

This is me with Caroline! We are now sisters because of our shared name!

 Group photo! They also enjoyed playing maths games-especially 'Find a Friend' and Bingo!
They made place value cards.

The Director of SUBEB gave me a lesson in Igbo pronunciation!

Stella and Patrick were a great help. They said I looked very white in this photo!!!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Caroline returns to Nigeria!

I was asked by Stepping Stones to do some Maths training in Imo. Now that I have resigned from my school in the UK I was able to say, 'Yes'. It is only for a week but I am very excited to be going back!
Crazy but wonderful. Nigeria I had forgotten how you make me smile! Seven hours waiting for a delayed Arik plane from Abuja to Owerri on a hard metal seat I wondered what I was doing. Necessity drove me to the toilet which was clean but had no lock! I was constantly informed of flights taking off to places such as Lagos, Enugu, Maidguru by a very dramatic female voice who ended every announcement with a very throaty drawn out ‘Thank you’. As more and more flights left with Arik I wondered about my suitcase (or I should say ‘load’) and hoped it had not been put on any of those planes by mistake. I was amazed it had got this far without any comments as it was full of scissors, dowel, bottle tops for my maths training. With no phone card or Nigerian money all I could do was sit and wait. Finally I heard the word Owerri and leapt to my feet. We walked out to the plane, dodging passenger buses and walking round planes. I need not have worried- there was my load by the plane. I indicated it was mine and got on the plane. I was the only white person on the plane but there was a distinguished visitor on board so I escaped much attention. The usual juice and cake were served and in no time we landed. Owerri seemed so green compared to Kwara and there were many trees and crops growing. As we walked to the terminal I followed the distinguished visitor until I realised I was about to go out the exit. As a mere mortal I had to go back for my load. Outside I waited as the truck brought the loads to where we all stood. There was then a scuffle to get the bags as it was hard to see which part of the truck they were in! I then went to the exit where my luggage receipt was checked-foolproof system I need not have worried.

Godfrey, my driver, was waiting. What a great, kind person he was. He took me to some Hausa people so I could change my money and then phoned a friend to arrange for me to get a sim card for my phone. I had a tour of Owerri. It felt like I had never been away. The bright colours, the bargaining, the dusty roads, the ditches, all the churches and the heat all greeted me. There were a lot of tuc tucs , drivers with no respect for any driving rules and the ‘road safety’ police were busy taking money.

In my hotel I was very grateful for a nice clean room. The phone rang a lot but the line was empty when I answered-it took a while for me to realise it was the phone in the bathroom and the one by my bed didn’t work! I went to investigate the conference room and was told the training had started at 8 and finished at 4 last week (actually it had started at 9). I was also told they knew nothing about card, masking tape, etc. A frantic call to Naomi and I was told these things were in a cupboard. I gradually relaxed and got into Nigerian mode-everything works out in the end! Mr Fred came to visit me-he was to be my assistant the next day. Then I met the chef (pronounced ‘shef’). He said he would make me food other than on the buffet if required.  I helped myself to ‘potato’ soup(tasted suspiciously like chicken but the waitress assured me it had no meat-she did not like the look of it, she said but white people ate it!). Then I had beans and vegetables which were nice and paw paw. Finally after 24 hours I slept!

The next morning the teachers arrived at 10am! However all seemed to go quite well. I had to slow down a lot as they found it hard to follow my accent. We had a lot of fun singing counting songs and making dice. They have a lovely uniform which is a dark blue suit, white shirt and red flower. On Fridays they are allowed to wear their own clothes.

After the training I tried to buy a slice of cake from the bakery-I ended up with enough cake to feed a family of eight. It was good to have a cup of coffee-even with powdered milk. I have a hotel porter outside my room all the time which is very reassuring and everyone is very polite and smiley-even when telling me there is no internet connection. After another meal of beans (Simon, the chef is going to make me spaghetti tomorrow) I left the restaurant. My waitress asked me if I could teach her to spell! She wrote out the alphabet on a scrap of paper and looked at me expectantly. What could I do? She is going to write a story about herself for me to check tomorrow.

It is quite noisy as the hotel is near a roundabout but somehow it doesn’t matter. The smiling, the greeting, the happy faces and the rousing ‘God’ music makes it impossible to be down or anxious for long! I would like the internet to come back though......

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Books for Kwara

I have not forgotten Nigeria! I am doing a fundraising this Saturday so if you live near me in the UK please come!
Enjoy a cake and coffee and help a child to read!
£1 is all we need to give a child a book to read!      

These children live in Kwara, one of the poorest states in Nigeria. School buildings are often falling apart and children have to sit on broken benches in classes of up to 100. We have taught the teachers how to teach reading which will help the children get a better education and a job. Being able to read gives them a future. At the moment most children only have a textbook to read. They need proper reading books. Just £1 buys a reading book written and published in Nigeria.

                                      These children are learning to read but have no reading books!

Your contribution of £1 will go straight to Nigeria where a Nigerian team of School Improvement Officers will then buy books from a Macmillan warehouse and take them straight out to the schools where they are urgently needed.
You are invited to cakes and coffee (or tea) on Saturday July 21st at 13 Kendal Close, Bebington. Drop in any time from 10am – 4pm. All I ask is a donation for ‘Books for Kwara’!                                    Many thanks, Caroline.