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.
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.
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 ...
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.
Following their successful screening of over 5,000 children for Sickle Cell disease, Fantsuam Foundation has now decided to construct its own rural diagnostic laboratory. Building started last week.
Located at Ungwan Masara, in Kaduna state, Nigeria, this facility, when fully equipped, will serve a rural population of over 600,000 within a 55km radius.
This significant initiative will be a befitting milestone to mark the celebrations of the 5th Dadamac Day which is to be held this Thursday, 4th November.
This week’s online meeting began with a testing technical question. As regular participants will know, we “meet” virtually every week using the Skype networking programme. However, since most cyber cafes lack this facility, the query was raised as to whether we might exclude people by adopting the same format for our monthly First Thursday meetings.
It was therefore suggested that using Yahoo Messenger might be a better option. However the vote from the Fantsuam Foundation was that Skype remained the preferable format for them as well as being easier to log into, it was the most effective alternative for sending files and pictures.
During the course of our meeting, John (I) had noticed that Pam and I had been editing our typos on Skype as we went along. At the close, he asked how we were doing this and we were able to explain the process, sharing that knowledge with the group, This was a good example of shared internet enabled learning - especially as this particular skill was first taught to Pam (UK) by a user in the USA. We are delighted to say it has now been passed on to rural Nigeria!