Thursday, May 3, 2018

Water Project

I am in the midst of a unique collaboration with a former student who is now an English teacher at Riverbend Middle School in Iowa Falls, Iowa, which is the very place we met as a rookie English teacher and a sixth grade student in 1991. We just became reacquainted a few months ago.

His students have been reading A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park which details the difficulties of finding water in the Sudan.  The students were also reading some informational articles about the drought in Capetown, South Africa. And I believe they were doing a multi-disciplinary unit for both science and English.

He thought it would be interesting to find out what the water situation is like in another part of Africa: Nigeria.

I happen to be back in the classroom this year, so I shared this information with my 9th graders and posed the question: How can we best show what the water situation is like in Nigeria? Well, the answer was obvious: make videos about how we get our water and use our water. Many of my 9th graders had never made a video before, but their brains are nimble, and they figured it out.

If you'd like to check out the results of our Water Project, look up Vimeo and search for my name:  Mary Beth Oyebade.

After watching the videos, the Iowa students have been asking a lot of great questions. I will answer some of them on this blog. (And what a walk down memory lane it has been as I see lots of familiar last names of my former students who now have middle school children. I'd love to tell them a few stories...)

We live near the middle of Nigeria on a plateau about 4,062 feet (1,238 meters) above sea level. Our state is called Plateau State--imagine that! There are 36 states in Nigeria and one Federal Capital Territory (like the District of Columbia in the U.S.) Plateau state is in red on the map below. The top 'horn' of the state is all on the plateau while the elevation of the rest of the state is quite a bit lower like the rest of the country. 

File:Nigeria Plateau State map.png - Wikimedia Commons
Because of our elevation, we enjoy moderate temperatures during the hot periods. When we travel off of the plateau, we really feel the heat and can't wait to return home. Farmers can grow all kinds of crops on the plateau because the elevation is favorable for farming conditions. 

The weather on the Jos plateau can even get pretty cool at certain times of the year--well, not compared to Iowa--don't laugh at us

Just for size reference, Iowa would fit inside Nigeria six times. 

For population reference, Nigeria has more than half the population of the U.S. Let that sink it for a minute. Nigeria: 195 million people. The U.S.: 326 million

And...just to help you understand HOW BIG Africa really is, here is an image that shows how many countries you could fit into Africa! Pretty amazing, huh?

Image result for map of africa with U.S. china and europe
Africa is a continent with 55 countries (not states). Each country has a lot of languages, but Nigeria tops them all with about 510 languages!!! No, not dialects, but completely different languages. However, English is the official language because Nigeria was once a British colony (just like the U.S.).
Map of Africa Showing Nigeria in Red. (Source:

Here's a handy website for checking out our rainy season and our dry season as well as the amount of rainfall we get each month. Please keep in mind that this information is just for the Jos area. The further north you go on the Nigeria map, you will be approaching the Sahara desert, and the water  will probably be scarce. Conversely, if you travel to the southern part of Nigeria, you will find thick rain forest, with three planting seasons in a year. 

It looks like Iowa Falls gets about 36.7 inches of rain in a year while Jos gets 51.8 inches. 

We have had about four hailstorms this rainy season. This is quite unusual. Our rainy season is really starting off with a bang! The storms don't last long--about 20-30 minutes. I haven't seen any damage from the little hail we're getting. It's nothing like the baseball-sized hail I've seen in the Midwest (U.S.). The hail in Nigeria is like little ice cubes. (I believe it would be highly unlikely for other parts of Nigeria to get hail. I think we get hail in Jos because of our elevation. There is one place in Nigeria that is twice the elevation of Jos--the Mambila Plateau on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Maybe they also experience hail.)

You might want to read about how Foundations Academy built a small footbridge in order to keep children from falling in the river on their way to school. Here's a little more background about how the bridge came to be. 

We are enjoying the opportunity to share about life in Nigeria.


Sandi said...

It's great to read this recap of so many things Nigerian!

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

thank you for letting us connect with your students and experiencing Nigeria.

Brody Hoversten said...

Thank you for the chance to do this project!

Sandy said...

I was so very excited to see a new post from you on my blog feedreader! I will look up the video. I think of your family a lot. It is through connecting with you (through someone who sews in the Mid-west of America) that the Lord has burdened my heart deeply for the displaced and persecuted there.
God bless!
Sandy in the UK

Cheyenne Lyman said...

Thank you for the opportunity for us to communicate with kids our age across the globe from us.