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!

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.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


I have been back four weeks now. I am glad to be with my family and it is good to have hot showers, constant electricity and running water. It is also good to be able to sleep without having to worry about rats or insects crawling on my face. However I really miss Nigeria. Life was so much simpler there. Here I am faced with materialism on a massive scale and pressure to conform is strong. For the first time in ages I put on make-up. Going to the shops was a big shock as prices seemed to have shot up. Worst was going out for a meal and discovering the cost was the same as a month's wages for a teacher in Nigeria. Being told I'll soon get used to it again is small comfort.
It was not easy being a volunteer and I did struggle a lot at times but it was an amazing experience and I am so glad I did it. It is one of the major achievements of my life. Just before I left the tables I helped to design were being put into schools. It is also amazing to think that my training is now being used in other states. Even more mind blowing is thinking of all the teachers who are now teaching reading using a group method. I was so lucky to have been given the freedom to do these things and really appreciate the SSIT who willingly put my ideas into practice. The appreciation I received from the teachers will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I hope to go back to Nigeria and continue my work with story books so I may post every now and then but for now it is goodbye. Thank you to everyone who has read this. If you are thinking of volunteering then I would advise you to go for it! It may not be easy and you may have to face fears and obstacles but you won't regret it! If I can do it then anyone can!


The last few days were the hardest of all. Walking out of the ESSPIN office for the last time was hard. My desk was so tidy and bare. I will no longer have to sit there editing lesson plans while keeping an eye on the waste paper bin in case the rat has decided to climb in there again! I said my last 'odabo' to the guard, walked downstairs and had my last pronunciation lesson from the guard on the desk and a final wave to Abdulai, the man who lifts the barrier at the gate. I have had some amazing conversations with that man-mostly completely beyond my understanding but he always seemed happy with my replies!
Clearing out our house and packing up took a lot of time as we had acquired so much stuff over fourteen months. We 'dashed' most of it. I asked the guards to put some stuff in the bin for me but not much ended up there. Very little of it was rubbish in their eyes. Even my worn out shoes could fetch a few naira apparently-very humbling. Lea made a certificate of excellent teaching for Buki, the girl in the photo,  who tried to teach us a phrase in Yoruba every week. She would also test us on previous phrases and was quite strict! She brought her brothers round for the final farewell.
Then there was another party. Sue is relocating to Abuja so we were both leaving. Here the chefs are getting ready.
All the ESSPIN staff came in outfits made from the same fabric! Here is Ife-I will never forget making mincepies with her or going to the market.
This is Kola who I worked with and sat next to in the ESSPIN office.
Then came Katherine, the deputy team leader who is a grandma like me and took us to the cantata at her church last Christmas.
As a surprise the ESSPIN staff had outfits made from the same fabric for Lea and I and Sue and Mesbah. Here I am with two of the SSIT members- Eunice and Yunus (both pronounced the same!).
Funmi was in charge of the agenda. He also made a very nice speech about me as did Sherrife.
Emma' the state team leader organised a pub quiz!

My dress was made from 4 yards of fabric!. Funmi bought Lea some 'palms' (sandals) to complete his outfit.

Even Sue's children had an outfit. I loved the flower on Bike's dress.
Sue was given special Yoruba cloth from SUBEB.

On the actual day we left Ilorin, Uzzar and Funmi and Sharon came round. We weren't sure when the plane was leaving-neither was the airline company Arik! As we left our neighbours were cheering and waving to us from the balcony and all the kids in the street came out to say goodbye. The woman from the tomato shop stopped the v an and gave us a mug and a calendar.
We finally left five hours later than scheduled. We l;eft Abuja early the following morning and were back in Heathrow at 3pm. I wore the lovely clothes the SSIT gave me all the way home.

Here I am at Heathrow. Fortunately when we arrived at Manchester airport James had brought a coat and a blanket as it was rather cooler there than in Nigeria!