Thursday, 29 November 2007

2 weeks - and counting!!

Hello folks! I'm afraid I have joined the members of the team who are counting the days until we leave Lafia. I am going to miss the people so very much - especially my host mum who I've grown very close to. I will not however, miss this place called Lafia. Everything here is so difficult and organising anything takes so much time and energy - and its very draining!

This week we have been busy preparing for world disability day. We had a fantastic meeting with about 20 disabled people in the office of our implementing partner NACWYCA. We had the blind, deaf, leppers and what the Nigerians call 'cripples' - but to you and me they are in wheelchairs. We wanted to conduct a needs assessment to determine what we will discuss in our disability forum that we are holding on world disability day. We are inviting policy makers and advisers to the governor to hear what the people ahve to say about disability iddues. We want to give these people a voice, because at the moment, nobody seems to care about them. I really hope we can pull it off, but its taking all my brain and physical energy to get thigns done!

We are also celebrating world aids day on Saturday with a rally and educating people about HIV issues. We are hoping to visit what they call a 'junction town'. These towns are where the long distance truckers have mistresses and therefore the rate of HIV/AIDS is very high in these areas. We hope to give out condoms and raise awareness while we are there.

Last saturday we managed to raise 11000 Nira for the local hospital through a day of fundraising. We did a steet role play about road safety issues and had a fundraising party in the evening. I was in the role play and I died 6 times that day because I got run over by an Okada! It was great fun and the money will go to a good cause. When we went to the accident and emergency section of the hospital they gave us a list of about 20 drugs that they didn't have. They said they sometimes have to wait up to 2 days before they can get more drugs. So if you turn up on the wrong day, it could mean the difference between life and death. We really don't realise how lucky we are that we have free access to health care.

What else? I have been buying things to bring back for Xmas and it will remain a surprise for those involved. I have become an expert at haggaling and I think the market stall holders hide when they see me coming! Roy the puppy is still very naughty and still poos on mammas carpet everyday! I wish I had the time to train him, but we don't get back until very late most days.

So 2 weeks to go until we come home!!! Unfortunately one of our UK team members had to be flown back to the Uk today as her grandfather waqs taken seriously ill. We had to say a very emotional goodbye to her yesterday, but we will see her again in London. She is a very popular member of the team, so we were all very oncerned for her. Lets keep our fingers crossed that things will work out for the best.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Busy bee me!!

Well, it seems that the last 2 weeks we will spend in Laifa will be the busiest and most stressful! We have been given a huge budget for World Aids Day, International Volunteering Day and World Disability day - £500 which goes a hell of a long way in Lafia! We can now make those days really special and our team is hoping to set up a social club for the disabled. There is so much to do and so little time!!

The newsletter is coming along slowly. We still have no money to get it printer, but we have someone to help us with the design and who may get us a discount on the printing! Some of the articles that have been written are excellent and at least people will get to know more about GX if they read the newsletter. It may even encourage youths in Lafia to volunteer!

Life at the school is now becoming very interesting - typical now that there's only 3 more days there. The school council set up a debate between two of the senior classes about corporal punishment today and it went so well. It was the first debate the school had ever had and it went down a storm! The kids were cheering and clapping at every good point and they want to have them every week from now on. I was so happy that it was the kids who organised it and not us - they deserve all the praise and it was just great to watch!

We also met with the principal today after wanting to see him for about 3 weeks! We gave him the list of 18 problems with the school that the school council had formulated. I was very nervous about him reading it as one of the points was about a particular member of staff who is a bit of a battle axe. He was more than receptive to all the ideas and we were pleasantly surprised with his response. He said that he will try and implement all the ideas and agreed about the particular member of staff. I said that she just needs to show more respect to the children and stop beating them for their sandals being broken!! We said that she should take on the role of counsellor and mother to the school, rather than disciplinarian. He actually called her to the office while we were ther and asked me to explian what being a mother to the school would involve!!

I just said "if I can give the example of my mother sir - she has only ever shown me love, kindness and respect and as a result, now as a grown woman, she is my best friend. If you want children to respect you, you must gain their trust and respect. It takes time, and their trust has been broken up until now through the use of flogging." We said that they can turn things around, but it won't be easy! He has agreed to change the discipline in the school from now on and has asked us to help him design a discipline scheme!! It was that easy, we just asked, and he agreed.

I am really beginning to feel that we have made a difference at that school. We have the talent competition tomorrow and it's going to be great! If anyone has any ideas about the discipline scheme - please email me as all ideas will be welcomed!

Thursday, 15 November 2007


Nawahala- meaning no problem in Hausa. This week has been pretty uneventful in the land of Lafia. The smog on the roads is giving me a cough, but other than that I'm absolutely dandy.

We actually had a day off work last week as the Nigerians had to go to Abuja to sort out their Visas. Incedently, the drove all the way there only to find out they were too late for their appointment, so had to drive all the way home again! The trip wasn't a total waste of time however. The Uk volunteers has asked them to get us some cheese as we've all been craving it in our dreams. We all got so excited about it and we were fantasizing about cheese sandwiches. However, the Nigerians returned with that fake plastic cheese you get on McDonalds burgers. It is an understatement to say we were disappointed! But, on Friday we had a bonfire party with cheese, tuna and Nuttela sandwiches. So, the moral of the story is, never let a Nigerian buy you cheese! The party was a good laugh and we had a fire and danced around it like godless pagans.

In school last week I stopped some of the senior students from being punished. When I got to school, about 2o pupils were kneeling in the boiling sun for being late. I approached the dean of studies and asked him what good it did them. I said they were already late, and he was making them even more late for lessons they are paying to attend. The reality of the situation is that most of the pupils have to lok after their younger siblings and do chores beofre school which is why they are late. He gave in and let them go in the end, and when I got to school today, there were no pupils kneeling in the yard. I hope that it stays that way.

The talent show isn't going to be between schools anymore as everything in Lafia is 100 times more hard work than it would be in the UK. If you want to send a letter, you have to hand deliver it and that involves getting on a motorbike. Getting letters printed in the first place takes about 40 minutes due to the slowness of the computers! But, the venure we were hoping to use was too expensive, so the talent competition is only going to be within our school.

We are busy planning our latest community Action Day which will again be about Road Safety Awareness. I witnessed a motorbike accident on my way to school this morning. There were two children and an Okada driver on the motorbike and they just clipped another Okada and toppled over. No-one was seriously injured luckily but it happened right in front of me, while I was on an Okada behind them, and it was rather scary, Just the other day another volunteer witnessed a boy trying to cross the road being knocked down. That was a more serious accident as the boy broke his leg. So, this Saturday we are doing some street drama on Road Safety then having a fundraising event in the evening. We are hoping to donate the proceeds to the hospital to help treat road accident victims.

We are also busy preparing for worl aids day, worls voluteering day and world disability day. We have got so much to do and there are only just over 3 weeks left!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

To Jos - and Beyond!

Hello folks!

So as I mentioned we went to Jos this weekend for our MidPhase Review. For those of you that didnt already know (I still cant get the apostrophes in this internet cafe!) Jos is the capital of the Plateau State in Nigeria. The Plateau State is really lovely. The landscape was amzing as there were many rock formations tht lookes like something from The Lion King! We really felt like we were in Africa as there were vast plains with mountains all around. The weather was also perfect. The sun was still hot, but there was a breeze that made it a bit more bearable. The nights were also very cool.

We stayed in a realy nice hotel-except that out hotel room has brilliant lime green furniture! We spent Saturday doing activites based on evaluating things like host homes, host home counterpart pairs, volunteer placements etc. It was fun and we all felt like the team became closer. We had a free day on Sunday. We went to a Wildlife Park, but all the animals had left for the day as we didnt see any! We were walking arond on foot, and the fences werent exactly very big! We think that the park used to be excellent, but that all he animals had either died or escaped due to crappy fences! However, we did climb a big hill and see a fantastic view over Jos that was well worth it.

We didnt get a chance to do any shopping which was a bit of a disappointment, but not much we can do about it. I really liked Jos. We didnt want to come back to Lafia! But now were back its back to the same old thing.

We did a bit more research with Edu link which was interesting, but hot. Ive resorted to going around with an umberella as the sun is just too hot! We have the day off tomorrow and were going to prepare for our bonfire night that were having Friday night.

Thats about it for now! Hope everyone is ok and enjoying the cold weather! I am so jealous! The closest we come to cold is going to a fast food restaurant called Mr Biggs where they always have air conditioning!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

A new arrival!

Yes that's right folks! The Egwa family now have a new addition in the form of Max the puppy!! He is the smallest, cutest, naughtiest little mite I've ever seen. I am officially inlove! He is so floppy and bouncy and cute. A welcome little friend for me!

It's been a pretty uneventful week really. We are going to a place called Jos tomorrow for a mid-phase review. I am really looking forward to seeing somewhere new and perhaps buying some genuine African craft.

The research at Edu link is well underway. We have already discovered that most families look after at least one orphan and our catchment area is not even the poorest. It's very interesting. Some of these children have one parent still living, but they get left behind when the remaining parent remarries. It really is terrible. However, most of the orphans we meet are well fed and schooled by their uncles/aunties. It's difficult work.

The work at the school is going well and the preparations for the talent contest are underway. We are having the 1st rehearsal on Tuesday, but I fear many of the entrants won't turn up. It would seem that getting these kids to really care about something is difficult. The school's main concern is making money, and the welfare and level of education comes last. One of the school classrooms collapsed during the night last week. Thanks goodness it didn't happen in the day! Children would have died. The school council have come up with some fantastic suggestions. They want simple things like prizes for the best students in the form of certificates, clocks in each classroom, the walls to be painted. We are going to talk to the principal about these things, but I don't think he will appreciate our pointers!

We had a fantastic time at Diane's Birthday. We danced a lot and even managed to get some British music played! We have only been dancing to the typical RandB since arriving, but on Saturday we played a bit of Muse (to my squealing delight!), drum and base and Groove Armada. All the UK volunteers went mental!! It was a great day and some of the guys made Diane a cake. I read a little poem I'd written for the birthday gilr which went down well.

I also went to Church on Sunday. We arrived at 9:45 and left by 12:45 - needless to say it was a LONG service!I don't have to go again until the end of November. I do find it interesting. Some of the prayers are very long. So long in fact I actually fell asleep!

Anyway, I can't wait to tell you all about our trip to Jos!

Love me xxxxx