Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Touch of Home

I love to take a good look at t-shirts in Nigeria. You never know what you might find.

Here's one of my favorites so far: Minnesota 4-H!

Monday is one of our drivers in the ministry. His baseball cap has a green shape of Plateau State (where we live), a red ribbon representing HIV/AIDS, and PLACA stands for Plateau Action Committee on AIDS.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

To Cross the River

Our rainy season starts with a few rains in April, and then gathers momentum through May and June. July is even wetter and then it rains nearly every day in August. Even if the sun is shining on an August day, you still need to carry an umbrella. By September the rains will start to slow down and then we can expect just a couple of rains in October. Then dryness will rule the land from November through March.
During the rainy season, the river near our school becomes very swollen. There are a few places with strategically placed stones where people try to cross. When the water is really raging, people have to go far out of their way to cross a bridge and then backtrack.
In recent months we have heard many stories of parents who want their children to come to our school, but they live on the other side of the river. Last Friday two mothers came to find out about the school, and in the process of trying to cross the river, they fell in.
This morning a father came to see the school for the first time. He said, "I wish there was an access road to this place from the other side of the river. A lot of people over there would bring their kids to this school if they could get them safely across the river."
I said, "Well, next week we're planning to start building a bridge."
"Praise God!"
"You let the people know that now they can bring their kids to school here."
"I will! I will! You can trust me to do that!" I could see that he had a very exuberant personality and would definitely follow through.
An hour later he was back with his teenage daughter. He enrolled her in the Math Drill which is presently going on, and he is planning to enroll her in school in school by mid-September.
 This is the view of the back of the clinic/school from the river's edge.

Monday, August 27, 2012

T-shirt Dresses

On the last Saturday of every month, the OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) Department of Mashiah Foundation holds a special program for the children we work with. Approximately 180-220 children attend every month. The OVC Department works with about 800 children, offering varying levels of assistance.

Today I took special note of this little girl because of her dress. I immediately recognized it as one of the t-shirt dresses my mom and the church ladies made in 2007. This pink one was probably handed down to her by her older sisters.

I just happened to have my camera in my pocket, so I said, "Let me 'snap' you." The little girl immediately struck a pose much to the delight of the adults standing nearby. She continued to give me a new pose every time I 'snapped' her. Gotta love that confidence.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To Educate a Child

About two weeks ago a father came to see me with his 8-year-old daughter. He had heard that I might be able to help him figure out why she was having problems with learning. I was busy at that time with one of our Math Drills so we set an appointment for later.

He came last Friday. We had another Math Drill going on, but everything was under control, so I took some time to evaluate his daughter. She and I sat on the couch in the library while the father sat on a chair nearby and watched everything we did. First I used some of Lily's kindergarten readers to evaluate her reading ability. Although she tried, it was obvious that she could not read. Then I grabbed some Scrabble tiles and randomly pulled some out. She could identify all of the letters and knew some of the sounds. As I made 3-letter words and taught her how to sound them out, she quickly caught on. By the end of that exercise she was reading nearly all of the 3-letter words I made.

At one point the father interrupted me and said, "Do you train teachers?"

I said, "Well, we're just starting to do some teacher training."

Then I moved on to using dice for addition and then a puzzle that dealt with numbers and sequencing. She quickly caught on to everything I was doing.

I had her write so I could check her pencil grip and how she was forming her letters. Even before she picked up the pencil, I had observed that she was a lefty. Her pencip grip was correct and she formed her letters correctly. I asked her to spell some 3-letter words which she did. I told the father that it is not a problem that she is a lefty and that he should not try to make her change her hand. He said he used to make her change her hand, but then someone told him that being a lefty is not a problem so he stopped.

We ended by playing a game of concentration with the three of us. She really enjoyed that and handily won.

While the little girl stayed in the library and looked at books, her father and I went to a nearby classroom to discuss the evaluation. I said, "Do you know what's wrong with your daughter? Nothing. Her mind is fine. It's just that she has not really been taught."

He said that he pulled her out of her school during the past year because he felt that she wasn't learning anything there. There were at least 40 students in her 2nd grade class.  He himself is a high school Physics teacher. When he gets home, if he's not too tired, then he tries to teach her.

They live about an hour away from Jos so it's not possible for her to come to our school. The father was clearly grieved about what his next step should be. As he is teaching other children, his own child is not receiving a decent education.

In reality, this little girl is blessed to have a living mother and father who are so concerned about her education. Because of their concern, I believe they will figure out a solution.

We have many orphans in our school, and we serve as both the teachers and the parents of these children. But there are still many other orphans who have no advocate.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Celebrant

Today I chatted with the housefather of Bezer Home and learned more about the birthday party yesterday. The Celebrant wanted to mark her birthday with the Bezer Home kids because she herself grew up as an orphan. Out of the abundance that she now has, she wanted to remember those who are growing up as she did. Although I can't say this is extremely common, I have witnessed it on numerous occasions. Out of thankfulness for what God has done in their lives, some people choose to celebrate with those who are in need. I think that's a good challenge.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shared Birthday Blessings

Today a young woman came to Bezer Home to celebrate her birthday with the Bezer Home family. She just wanted to share her special day with others. I didn't even get her name so I'll just call her the "Celebrant" as we do here in Nigeria. She brought a beautiful cake which is being shared at the back of the room. She also brought the bottled drinks as well as the 5 kg bag of washing detergent for the Bezer Home residents. I just love those practical gifts!