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From Antenna to Schools in rural Nigeria

Bala was not at the latest UK-Nigeria online meeting - but he had an excellent excuse! For rather than joining this week’s online sesson, he was busy setting up the new antenna which will allow Fantsuam Foundation’s Academy to receive free bandwidth for the next five years.

Truth and Reconciliation Movement for the Plateau

Below is John Dada's response to the informative, inspirational (and brave) article written by Prince Charles Dickson for Sahara Reporters - which can be viewed here .

"Dear Charles,

I read a lot of hope in your article, and you have also identified someone of like mind: Aliyu Tilde. It will only take a few folks to start a reversal of this season of madness in Plateau. Truth and Reconciliation is what the majority are yearning for, but a vocal minority is drowning their voices. If those we call leaders have let us down, let us rise to the ocassion and help ourselves. Let us reach out across the "vs" and let our humanity save us from this no-win situation.

I suggest that you and Tilde start reaching out to the few and courageous others who agree to promote peace again on the Plateau. The problems are not intractable, we will not sweep things under the carpet, but we shall go into this with a vision of a Plateau that allows everyone to live in harmony, and achieve their potential. A Plateau that has found that the indigene-settler dichotomy is not what is needed for development in this space age, and is willing to leave this brutal past behind. Let us start a Truth and Reconciliation Movement for the Plateau".

John Dada PhD, MPH, RN, DipHE
Executive Director
Fantsuam Foundation
Kafanchan, Nigeria

Feedback from rural Nigeria

Oritamefa Baptist Model School, Ibadan is one of the biggest school in Ibadan metropolis. Fola (who has only had his laptop for two weeks) visited the school to help  teachers with the configuring of their system
He was also the first to let us know about the flooding in Oyo State and sent us some photos.
Dadamac has helped Fola obtain his laptop with the help of an loan through Fantsuam Foundation's microfinance bank. Once the interest free loan has been repaid by Fola the intention is that the money will be lent out again.
During our weekly UK-Nigeria meeting Comfort gave us an update about Fantsuam Foundation's successful microfinance programe.

Road Accident claims 26 lives in Kenya.

Dadamac's condolences go to David Mutua and his community who sent us this email.

"It's a sad week in my village in Kawethei, Kangundo Kenya. 26 family and relatives, neighbors and friends died and many are going through a painfull and tough time due to injuries sustained over the weekend through the worst road accident of the year in Kenya. Thanks to the Kenyan Government for offering
support for funeral and hospital expenses, we appreciate very much.
 
We are requesting for prayers and soon CALD -  through our facebook group the Kawethei Community Development Network will be working with people on the ground, family members, friends and friends of Kawethei people to setup a mid term and probably long term support system to those families that were affected.
 
I know what it feels like when government, friends and family support the short term and leave you, that's when reality sinks. Life is not same anymore. I am the first born and I lost both my parents in 1995.

May the almight God Rest the souls of those left us in eternal peace, give the hand of the Holy spirit for quick recovery for the injured and endurance forthose that were left behind".

For additional information about the accident please see this video by KenyancitizenTV.

Inspirational meeting

This week’s online meeting between the UK and Fantsuam in rural Nigeria was as dynamic and wide ranging as ever.

We discussed practical ways of helping Fola, a trusted individual in the Dadamac network who hopes to get his community at Ago-Are online. Last week we told how within a week we had devised a way to help him achieve his vision -  not only had he received his money but he had brought his laptop and had already sent us photos.

It was agreed during the meeting that John Dada would arranged to advance Fola additional funds, via Fantsuam Foundation’s microfinance bank.The extra money is to enable him to buy an inverter. The tariff that Fola is on means that he can now go online between 9pm and 6am and he is responsible for this new Dadamac outpost at Ago-Are.
As John quipped:  “Talk about North/South linkage, Dadamac is it!

John told us that during the week he had had a visit from the American Embassy’s new officer in charge of Human Rights from the American Embassy to follow up on FF's efforts following the post-election violence. It is hoped that the Embassy will help Fantsuam’s Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Team to actualise it's medium and long term goals of rehabilitation and reintegration of the various communities - with a major emphasis on services for women and children in post-conflict situations.

Fantsum reaching out

As usual, this week’s UK-Nigeria online meeting proved a real gem.

Feedback from John suggests the community is becoming used to the new realities of slow business output in the wake of the post-election conflict.

He reports that the Kafanchan Peace Market traders are gradually getting their businesses going again, with some of venturing into new businesses areas.
Twelve of the 27 traders are Muslims and these women have negotiated with Fantsuam Foundation to defer their loans until after Ramadan.

In recent blogs I have documented the loss of experienced staff from Fantsuam, mostly as a direct consequence of the recent troubles. However, a related ongoing problem which afflicts FF was explained by John. Once again he has lost another valuable member of his staff who has been offered five times the salary that FF can afford. This is a recurring problem for John. He trains people who have minimal skills but, by the time they have served their unofficial apprenticeship at Fantsuam, they have gained valuable experience and are poached by bigger organisations
This is because FF offers a fasttrack training and unique hands-on approach to integrated development. John reflected: “The way we are starting to look at this is that taking youths from Ground Zero to become employable by bigger organisations may be one of our callings - but it costs us so much."

A community helping itself

This week’s online meeting between the UK and Nigeria teams marked another step forward because it drew upon additional technology.

As well as our usual Skyped/typed conversation we used sms/phone messages to check the situation at FF in the light of John’s uncharacteristic absence.
The fact John had not sent us an explanatory email as is his custom had caused us to speculate as to whether there was a problem. However, the team in the UK (based in London and Leeds) were able to contact Comfort at Fantsuam (rural Nigeria) and she reassured us that all was OK, aside from some connectivity issues. Comfort also said repayments were now improving - an encouraging sign that things are slowly returning to normal in the wake of the post-election violence earlier this year.

She was further able to tell us that John was out. And the next day John sent us all an email and filled in the gaps.

In the morning he had gone for what he thought would be a brief home-care visit to a bed-bound client of FF prior to the meeting. But when he got there he had to deal with complications and was delayed. In between I suspect John had his usual busy day with many demands being made on him. Later that evening John received an emergency call from a staff member’s wife, who had gone into labour while her husband was away in Kaduna. She delivered safely and both mother and child are happily back home.

Kafanchan Violence: The legacy

Nearly four months after Kafanchan’s post-election violence, we were sad to learn from John Dada that staffing at Fantsuam is still suffering the effects.

Chollom, the network administrator who was displaced during the troubles, has now understandably relocated to Jos. Likewise Yakubu, a recent arrival, has also returned to Jos at the insistence of his worried family.

Before the troubles Kafanchan was widely perceived to be safer than Jos, so the UK team were disturbed to learn from John that this is no longer true. He said: “I think this is the often unseen and untold price that organisations and individuals continue to pay for sectarian violence, even long after the incident itself. Jos now appears safer than Kafanchan - but the FF view is, if we did not stay to promote the peace, who would?”

On the positive side, two new female volunteers have joined FF, one of whom will be taking over the role left vacant by Yakubu's departure.

To learn more about the situation at Kafanchan please read Lagun Akinloye’s article for Think Africa Press, which the team were also pleased to see had also appeared in the Daily Times. John said: “I was wondering where the Daily Times story came from, then I realised it was Lagun's report! It was very well written, and Daily Times has a high urban circulation in Nigeria. The national exposure which Lagun's article gives us is great.”

 

Making Rural Connections

Judging by this week’s UK-Nigeria online meeting, it seems the normal busy and varied activities of Fantsuam Foundation are becoming evident again following the recent post-election violence.

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