Television interviews and Valentine's Day


By the time this gets posted (Saturday) I will very likely be made a grandmother for the first time. I look forward to meeting the little guy when I return. My son and daughter-in-law live in Grand Island, Neb., so I might have to make a short road trip when I get back.

Friday started with breakfast about 8 a.m. We made it a priority to get to the Internet café early so that we could go to interviews at the last two media houses. Benji paved the way on Thursday for these last two sessions. Both were television stations and we met with the program manager in both cases. Benji made an announcement about the purpose of our trip and then they asked for statements from each one of us.

The second television station we interviewed with had a female general manager. We have been finding many more women in leadership roles on this trip than on past trips. The staff members at these stations also have considerable female presence.

The media in Nigeria is very much mass media. Many carry radios and the evening news has a real 1950s-60s reporter feel to it. At the same time everyone has one or two cell phones all with data plans negating the need for wireless for most Nigerians.

I find it is an interesting technological culture in that they often skip one or two iterations of what we experience in U.S. cellular technology is a much less expensive proposition if purchased in Nigeria. My international data plan is quite expensive by comparison. That is why we go to the Internet café to find wireless as it is much less costly. It costs about 200 naira for an hour of use, that’s about $1.25.

After our second interview we traveled to a Taraba State office building to turn in a dormitory proposal prepared by a government office requested by and for the acting governor to review. We hope that they determine to give some portion of what is needed. As it turns out, he wasn’t there and Benji ended up hand delivering it the afternoon.

Before noon we arrived at the orphanage where a Valentine’s Day party was in full swing complet with the DJ, dancing and ending with bottled pop and food.

The sponsoring group was the Rebecca and Martins Nduna Foundation. Passionate service to humanity is their motto. It is a family foundation ran by seven siblings whose parents (Rebecca, a former nurse) and Martins (a former college professor) died and left them with a consideration estate. The youngest daughter is the president of the foundation and they take applications from all sorts of non-profits to help with projects … from helping with a building project to events such as the one at the orphanage, the foundation is committed to serving the underprivileged.

The foundation staff rocked the house with Christian music and a message. There was group dancing while a troupe of barbers washed and trimmed the hair of many of the students. The foundation invited all of us to have a few words and ended the program with pop served to all and meals served to the children. They also left a variety of orphanage necessities in quantity such as toilet paper, some food items and powdered milk. The foundation chose Valentine’s Day to come to the orphanage because they felt it was fitting to the love the children need and deserve.

Later in the afternoon the International Youth Praise Factory came to the orphanage with more than 25 of its members and provided music, soccer competition and fun, especially for the older children.

Between groups Benji took us on an itemized orphanage campus building tour so that we could evaluate the condition of buildings, hear about their needs and talk about the future. We noted that a half-completed guesthouse should be a lesser priority than some of the building maintenance needs and the need to replace the boys’ dormitory that burned at Christmastime.

The climate and building materials in Nigeria are always a challenge. We noted several items that needed to be cared for and we also spent time in conversation about accounting practices and the need for additional attention to maintenance items. All-in-all it was a very productive day.  

Did I mention we had chicken, salad and stew for dinner?

Kathryn Witte