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Handwashing Day!

Handwashing and libraries were two of the subjects up for discussion during this week’s online UK-Nigeria meeting. John Dada informed us that Global Handwashing Day falls on 15th October. A Fantsuam team member was in Kaduna to discuss Fantsuam Foundation’s participation.
John said: “We would like to raise awareness in the local schools on basic handwashing, but the schools have no running water, and some have no toilets.
“We are thinking of installing some basic but affordable hand-washing stations in a few of the schools. It’s a small step, but in the right direction.”
John explained that a good first step would be the siting of a water bottle hanging from a string, so that it tips easily for washing one's hands.

In typical John Dada and Fantsuam Foundation fashion - where there is always the drive to share and replicate - John suggested that on the global Handwashing day that it would be good to make Fola at the Ago-Are Dadamac outpost aware of this global initiative so that they too could join in the day. From this discussion came the firming up of the idea of linking Fola’s Ago-Are children with those at Fantsuam Foundation’s children’s computer club.
John said: “We are also keen to start a School Radio Program where kids will hear themselves discussing issues with other kids.
“The Children's Radio idea is nothing new. When I was in the Primary school, we used to have one lesson period during the week, when the head teacher brings a radio to our class and we all cluster around it to listen to some lessons.

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

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.

Weekly news update from Kafanchan

This week’s online meeting between UK-Nigeria was in three parts:

1. The first part took the format of a series of emails from John Dada which contained staff member updates and the latest information about the Kafanchan Peace Market - together with photos. The photo show the market which was razed to the ground in April during the post-election violence and the emergence of the new market.
The team were sad to learn that a senior trainer had decided to relocate to Abuja but wish him every success in his new job and studies. It was felt by the team that some staff from southern Nigeria may have found the violence so intimidating that they decided they could not stay as this type of religious violence is unusual in the south.
John D. was himself in Abuja where he was planning to attend events of the Global Sickle Cell Day there. The previous year FF had organised a spectacular Sickle Cell Awarness Day but this year had decided against doing so again this year. This is because, as a consequence of the aftermath of the violence, their resources are strained and the staff’s priorities have had to change to accommodate the new demands and needs from their local community.

Kafanchan Peace Market Traders launched

The weekly online UK-Nigeria meetings have been established in their present format for more than three years. However, following Nigeria’s terrible post-election violence, John this week identified a new and unexpected benefit of our regular sessions - explaining that the Dadamac meetings are “evolving into a balm, a tonic, a forum where Fantsuam Foundation can unburden ...

Hope amid the chaos

Ever since since news of the outbreak of violence in Kafanchan reached the UK, the weekly UK-Nigeria team meetings have been a source of apprehension rather than the customary excitement. Will someone there be able to join us online? What news will there be? Has anyone else been hurt or left homeless amid the unrest?

All these thoughts occupy our minds as we prepare for the regular sessions - so we were naturally delighted that three members of the Nigeria team were able to join us last week.

It also came as a great relief to hear Comfort reassure us about events in her country,

“It's been quite stressful, but things are getting calmer,” she said. “People are still afraid - that is the feeling - but we pray that the violence ends very soon, so we can get back to normal.”

Ironically, one of the effects of the conflict is that Fantsuam has not yet been able to resume its normal service and so is unusually quiet. This in turn has meant Comfort, whose workload as General Manager of Microfinance often leaves her unable to join the meetings, has been in a position to attend online. With regard to the lack of normal activity, she told us: “Field officers have to be sure the communities we work in are safe before they can go there.”

Kafanchan Peace Market:
Following the destruction of the vital local market we were very pleased to receive an encouraging update from the Nigerian team.

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