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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.

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.

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.

Welcoming new Friends

This week’s UK-Nigeria online meeting differed from the norm as, for once, new participants outnumbered the regulars!

Apologies were received from Frances and Pam - who was traveling and unable to come online - and from Kelechi who was in Abuja. Meanwhile Comfort was still on training in the USA and was unsure if her schedule would allow her to attend - or even if she would wake up in time!

However, John was able to introduce me to two new team members, Yakubu and Emmanuel.

During the meeting Yakubu told us he had only been at Fantsuam Foundation (FF) for a week, but that he had already been “sucked in”. John explained that Yakubu had “hit the ground running” and already had a range of assignments on his plate.

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.

Rural Realities

I am sad to report that this week’s online meeting between thIe UK and Fantsuam Foundation brought some distressing news. We have long been aware of the type of local community responsibilities that John Dada shoulders, and yet again this became apparent during our latest session.

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 ...

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