From hailstones to child protection

Skype delays tried to de-rail our weekly online meeting between rural Nigeria and the UK. However, one of the benefits of using typed skype messaging is that when there is a time lag the participants are able to write up their input for the various agenda items (which is emailed to us a few days before the meeting). The information is then eventually posted and can be read by everyone. The delays which were intermittent meant that the meeting overran by 40 mins but the format meant that those who needed to ‘leave’ on time could do so.

The Meeting: Comfort was unable to attend the meeting this week as she was being interviewed by the local TV station. I was surprised to hear from the Nigeria team members that many homes do actually have a TV and that the issue is one of electricity supply. The real problem being the unreliability and cost of NEPA. As a result most people choose to use either a car battery or a small diesel generator which they then switched on for an few hours in the evenings to watch TV programmes.

It was arranged during the the meeting that on Comfort’s return to Fantsuam, Frances would ‘interview’ her about the interview.
Frances duly did this and sent me her write up later that day which can be seen here.

John then went on to inform us that Edi's department (Health and HIV/AIDS Department I believe) does in fact have  free, weekly spot on the local radio. Fantsuam Foundation are now looking at asking for a weekly TV spot as it will be a useful way of engaging with a wider audience. However, they will need to raise the finance to enable this.


Community Action Committees (CACs) - visibility

Project is Active: 

This is a Fantsuam Foundation initiative.

In December 2010 Fantsuam Foundation contacted  community leaders from the many different districts that they serve. The vision was the establishment or reactivation of a Community Action Committee for each of these districts.

People and Organisations: 

Community Health Committees in Rural Nigeria

Training was once again a top topic at this week’s UK-Nigeria meeting. It is in fact an intrinsic part of Fantsuam Foundation - be it computer training at the Academy or health education or teaching staff to take blood samples from 5,000 children to screen for Sickle Cell Disease.

A farewell to 2010

Wednesday saw the last UK-Nigeria core team meeting of the year and it was a good opportunity to catch up with the latest from Fantsuam Foundation. (However, it was agreed that there would be a Directors meeting on December 22nd, which duly took place)

The next UK-Nigeria Team meeting has been arranged for Wednesday, January 5th 2011, followed the next day by the First Thursday meeting of the year on the 6th.

Releated Project: 

From Termites in Sambarkas to mobile phones

THE thorny issues of smart phones in rural Africa and termites in the sambarkas (traditional mud huts with a straw roof) were among the topics raised in our UK-Nigeria online meeting.

However, the majority of this week’s session was used to ensure the team updated Pam on any project developments in readiness for the ICTD 2010 conference, where she will be presenting.

Witchcraft update:
From the team’s discussion it is sadly not unusual for children in Nigeria to be accused of being witches - they are sometimes called 'spirits', and are often held responsible for illnesses and deaths. There seems to be widespread support for this generalised belief in witchcraft with many churches also sharing this fear and performing ceremonies in prayer houses to combat those they think are witches. Many children even confess to being witches because these beliefs are so ingrained that they internalise the thoughts others have about them.

John has been seeking professional help and guidelines to help these traumatised children, but my understanding is that there was little response to this. He needs advice for his staff regarding how best to minimise the psychological effects suffered by these youngsters as a result of such ordeals. We heard at last week’s meeting that staff from Fantsuam Foundation had rescued a child who had been outcast and had already been the target of several attempts to kill him.
John was  pleased to tell the team that the rescued child, Joseph, now has his own room, a school uniform, and has started at a school 15 minutes from his new home. He did very well in his pre-test and has been allowed to start at Junior Secondary Class2, rather than JSOne. Fantsuam has also bought him a mattress and pillow, and Comfort is supervising his food supplies. The best news of all came last Monday when John saw him smile for the first time.

A busy week at Fantsuam

This week at Fantsuam Foundation is expected to be even busier than usual as it incorporates the celebrations for both World AIDS day and World Disabilities Day.

Volunteers Day also falls this week, with the culmination being an end-of-year party and a volunteers’ award night on December 5th.

News from Rural Nigeria

Halfway through this week’s UK-Nigeria online meeting, John Dada was abruptly called away to attend to the tragic and sudden death of a member of his local community. As many of you will realise, John is often referred to as Baba (father) and it is to him that many of this rural community turn at times of crisis.

 This week’s particularly tragic event left a newborn baby without a father. At a more appropriate time I hope to update you further about this additional role that John finds himself in, but for now I will detail the  online session – which, following some discussion, was continued in John’s absence.

 For his part, John had just returned from Abuja where VSO had held a training course on Volunteer Management for its West African Partners. John was able to contribute by acting as a “resource person”  for the training. He informed us that a field visit to Fantsuam Foundation was currently being held for the VSO partners from Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Ghana and Cameroon.

Releated Project: 

What made us think this week!

ONE team member described this week’s UK-Nigeria meeting as “very thought-provoking”. Well I can certainly concur with that!
The bulk of the session was spent discussing the Knowledge Resource Centre. It was important that the team all shared their vision of what the KRC future might be.
One of the fundamental starting points was for us all to recognise the importance of our own learning journey. This is a “foreign” concept for many, who often see only formal accredited education as having worth or importance.
The group were able to see that the staff at Fantsuam Foundation are in fact incredible role models. All are self-directed learners - each with their own unique and impressive learning journeys. One example is Comfort who attended some initial basic workshops re Microfinance, and has gone on to establish the very successful and sustainable Microfinance programme at Fantsuam in rural Nigeria. She is now regarded as a true expert in this field, able to offer valuable insight and training for others both locally and globally.


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