The last UK-Nigeria weekly meeting of 2011 unearthed a sad situation which is unfortunately faced all too often by those attempting to provide aid in developing countries.
Once again it involves an instance where such aid fails to reach those in dire need. The major frustration is that Fantsuam Foundation possesses the necessary skills and expertise to deliver this help, yet - despite its 10-year history of bringing innovative integrated programmes to its impoverished rural host community - “top down” funding remains hard to come by.
John Dada of Fantsuam explained the situation to Pam and myself. He said: “We feel sorry that we constantly have to inform folks that we do not have the level of slack in our budget for meeting unplanned expenses.
“A young man came in this morning, his home was burnt in the crisis and now he needs to have a surgery on Friday at the Teaching Hospital. He wanted help from Fantsuam Foundation.
He is one of many we have to turn away. There is a lot of talk from the Government end on peacebuilding, but it seems largely for photo opportunities and the assistance is not reaching the folks who really need it.”
John eloquently summed up the events of 2011 by saying: “It’s been a challenging year at FF. The crises made me appreciate how much intertwined we have become with our host community. We are able to feel every blow, every pain, every challenge that comes their way. Often times, all we can do is just listen and nod in agreement. It is good that they all know - both Muslims and Christians - that FF is on their side all the way.”
John went on to inform us that Fantsuam Foundation are now members of the Southern Kaduna Reconciliation and Empowerment Network. They have elected to work in the area of empowerement if other team members will compliment their efforts with constant dialogues and reconciliation moves.
John added: “I was introduced to another group based in Kaduna, called Bridge Builders. They have asked to see our proposal of linking job creation with training in non-violent communication strategies.
“Ironically the destruction during the crises also provides opportunity for training youths in compressed bricks and building skills. Making youths from both sides rebuild the homes they destroyed, seems one way of getting the message of Non Violence across in practical terms.”
John went on: ‘It is easier for folks to begin to rebuild their lives when they see concrete efforts in place rather than the talk that has been the Government strategy so far.
“The folks just want the chance to work their ways out of poverty, and I know this can be done without much fanfare.”
John concluded our discussion about the difficulties of funding local aid by saying: “The Global economic crisis makes you feel that there is enough out there for everybody, if only humans will get the distribution right.”
Other news this week from Fantsuam Foundation:
- Fantsuam have continued with their HIV/AIDS Peer education program, reaching out to 1,600 youths.
- Fantsuam have also written a request for the Local Government to ask if they can pay for a borehole for the Zipak lab. The feedback was that this is a project they would like to support, but their attention at the moment is more towards the coming Local General elections.
- John was pleased to report that our street children feeding is proceeding apace. The £350 Dadamac sent towards the crisis is paying for daily lunch - including Saturdays and Sundays. Fantsuam have included some children whose homes were destroyed in the crisis.
- The American Embassy plans to release funds for FF’s clinic extension on Jan 15th, and John reports that they should have the new delivery and recovery room in place come March.
- John interviewed for an accountant position yesterday (December 13th).
He told us: “None of the three candidates were appointable for the management post, but two can come in at lower levels.The most qualified of the three has his eyes on a level of pay we cannot afford. The other two have their hearts in the right place, but not the right level of experience we need"
John explained that the moment, Kafanchan is not the most attractive location for highly experienced accountants.
- John is mentoring Kelechi Michaels, a former employee of FF who has decided to set up a branch of Fantsuam Foundation in the south east. FF have assured him of all of their support. Kelechi is still conducting consultations and says he now appreciates what it must have taken to get FF off the ground. John says he expects Kelechi will come to FF briefly to help train the new Finance Assistant as he has a good understanding of FF’s banking software.
- In the meantime, the Nigerian winter has started and blankets are now needed at night .
All the above information was obtained during this week’s typed skyped meeting.
The photo is from Fantsuam Foundation and shows the new Zipak laboratory which will screen for Sickle Cell and infection in the under 5's.