Our day began with an early morning visit from Mrs. Pricilla Thomas. She was our cook and pretty much took care of us on previous trips to Nigeria. Mrs. Thomas is on her way to a UMW revival in another part of the conference, but wanted to share her red stew recipe with us before she left.
Jim and I then went with Simon Benjamin to visit with various folks. First we went to see Mrs. Lucy Nayme, an orphanage board member. She is an aunt to the former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nayme. Lucy is in poor health and received us at her home. Our next visit was with the former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party in Taraba State, Dr. Abdulmumuni Vaki. Dr. Vaki and his family have been local supporters of the orphanage for some time. His home is in the Mambilla Plateau, a higher and much cooler place than Jalingo where we are staying.
Our final visit of the morning was with the Rev. Martin B. Okan who is the secretary of radio at a particular radio house. Everyone in Nigeria receives radio. Through the efforts of folks like this, people all over the area know of the work of Simon Benjamin at the orphanage and how it impacts the community. In addition to being the secretary of radio, the Rev. Okan has a multi-site discipling ministry, spreading the Gospel of Christ and conducting workshops on evangelism throughout the area.
Thanks to Dottie for the morning report as I woke up with a terrible sore throat and decided to work on some photo editing and SD card organizing for the rest of our stay.
Not long after Dottie and Jim arrived back to the bishop’s guest house, they shared that the Rev. Okan arranged for another radio interview to be edited in combination with the ones we did on Saturday at the orphanage. The program manager (controller programs) Yohanna B. Maikori from Taraba State Radio arrived about 2 p.m. He asked each of us a series of questions about the effectiveness of government involvement in the orphanage, what we thought about the vitality of the orphanage, plus other questions all centered around private, government and church funding. I equated it to our own health and human service agencies in our states that often partner with private and church institutions to deliver services. We have now been interviewed and broadcast twice in Taraba State, once on AIT Television and once on Taraba State Radio. AIT is semi-private more like public broadcasting than the other media houses that are purely state-owned. I personally am in awe that three pretty much nameless folks from Nebraska are making such media rounds. I keep joking that it must be a slow news day. On the other hand, it speaks to the heart of the plight of many in Nigeria … the least, the poor, the sick and the children.
Our conversations with bankers, government officials, and the church all seem to point toward the value for more Nigerian institutions that run as well as the UMCN Mile Six Orphanage. Some have said that many others claim to have orphanages, but when evaluated, they are found to have no children. All that said, it is a humbling experience to be here.
Over the lunch hour the Rev. Dr. Eunice Iliya came to meet with the bishop and afforded me the opportunity to video some of her testimony regarding the success of the orphanage. She studied in Southern California and is a friend to several Nebraskans. She is very well spoken. We plan to post several interviews recorded during our trip to help inform Great Plains United Methodists about the work of the orphanage.
In preparation for Saturday’s awards ceremony at the orphanage, I couldn’t help but ask about the printed certificates and the program. They were pleased to have me review them and I think the materials are better for it. Even published books here are filled with interesting uses of the language, omitted letters and words and so on.
Late in the afternoon we decided to visit the Junior Seminary School (supported heavily by the Iowa UMC). The school hosts about 450 students, both male and female. It is a boarding school and is where 16 orphanage students now attend. It is the equivalent of a junior and senior high parochial school with United Methodist Christian training wove into each day. I met most of these young people as youngsters five years ago and now they are teenagers. They all look so healthy and happy.
Our final stop of the day was at the orphanage where we debriefed a bit and met the Rev. Akila Abainitus Hammon. He is an elder in the Southern Conference and was the primary assistant to the group that traveled there in 2007 with Bishop Ann B. Sherer-Simpson to dedicate the orphanage. We closed the day with a late dinner comprised of red stew, chicken, a vegetable spaghetti and fruit. We are eating well and healthy. Our hosts are extending the ultimate hospitality.
Tomorrow we plan to go to the market to find items to bring back to the states. We will also visit two more media houses in the morning. In the afternoon we plan to spend time at the orphanage with the children and administration, working on accountability measures and project identification. A government estimator was on site today and will present his numbers to the acting governor tomorrow. It would be very cool if we would learn of a sizable contribution from the government before we leave.
Wireless is built into all the phones here so it is largely unavailable to the general public. My Sprint data plan will cost extensive amounts of money (about $19 a mg). One of my personal projects tomorrow is to find an upscale hotel from which to rent some wireless time. At this writing, I believe we are about three days behind on posting.
Cheers and God bless you,