Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ishahayi Beach School

"Now, climb into our boat, and we'll escort you up Five Cowrie* Creek and out to Ishahayi Beach - secluded, quiet, beautiful and incredibly poor.   It is a weekday, so we watch villagers cast enormous fishing nets, then work together to haul them back into shore. In this primitive but time-honoured way, their catch for the day will be the village's sole source of income...." http://www.ibsfnigeria.org/home

 I have been reading a book entitled Nigerian Gems written to help fund the Ishahayi Beach School.  This is a project started by expatriate women in Lagos, who saw a need and desired to help educate Nigerian children in this small beach community.  The foundation has made great improvements over the last few years and I wanted to see it firsthand.  As I walked around the school, one of the younger students tugged at my shirt.  When I knelt down to talk with her, both little arms went around my neck and she hung on...and oh how my heart just melted.   

 The Ishahayi Beach School is located in a remote area accessible only by boat.  There is no electricity, no plumbing and no running water.  About 1/3 of the children are picked up each morning in a canoe and returned home after classes.  The IBSF (Ishahayi Beach School Foundation) has completed a six room school building with separate classrooms for the various grade levels, as well as donated books, desks and blackboards.  
Approximately 150 students attend the school with about 30 students per classroom.
As we passed each of the classrooms, the students and teachers 
stopped their work and chanted a greeting to us. 
"Good Morning Ma, We love you Ma, You are welcome Ma, God bless you Ma". 
Some of the classrooms are divided in half by the chalkboards, separating
the grade levels.      We were impressed with both children and teachers! 
The students are well disciplined and so attentive.
The sixth room is a library, with new books and two new bookcases!  The American School of Lagos has been collecting books for the beach school and brought them out today. The children were taught how to care for the books and how to select the right ones for each grade.
Uniforms for the students were donated by a private school in Houston. 
The children play happily on the playground. 

The IBSF dug a borehole for water and installed a new well and pump.  This allows the children to have clean drinking water.  They fill up buckets to leave outside of the classrooms.  The students share the same two cups, scoop up the water, drink it, and pour the remainder right back into the bucket without wasting a drop.     
At lunch time, the children crowd around to get food with their new shiny red bowls. 
I didn't hear a word of complaint about what they were served! :) 
Each child received a bowl of beans along with sauce and a pounded yam. 

In the U.S., we teach our elementary aged children not to play with scissors. 
These children in Nigeria are using machetes!!!! 
Since the women bring gifts of books, supplies, etc. each time they come out, the students want to give back gifts too.  Today, they picked coconuts and cut them for us as a present.  This little boy was really working hard!   We got our coconuts and I am pleased to report that they still have all their fingers and toes. 
This is the female teacher's (and director's) housing -complete with mosquito nets and inadequate beds.  The director has asked for a new roof over this building as they prepare for the rainy season.  The thatched roof leaks and the rats eat through the holes.  This is their most immediate need.   
Above is the male teacher's housing.   Wow!

The teachers of the school are pictured with the IBSF Chairman.  The lady in the blue printed skirt and head wrap is Lady Salami, the missionary who started the school and current director.  She is incredible and took the time to sit down and talk with each one of us. 
This is the kitchen for the teachers and the school.  
This is the school stove.  

The toilet block includes 3 lavatories and 1 shower, which is the only shower around for many miles.  The lavatories are more-or-less holes in the ground attached to sewage.  A generator has also been provided to give electricity to the school.   

Before we left, the students had a good bye song and dance to thank the students from the American School of Lagos and the women who came. 
They are so appreciative.     

While much has been done to help these students, many needs still exist.  The current school provides education for students through the 6th grade.  At this point, many students are unable to continue their education after graduating from 6th grade.  It is the dream of Lady Salami to build additional classrooms (with additional paid teachers) in order to extend education to the 7th and 8th grades.  
________________________________________________________________________________
The IBSF sells the book, Nigerian Gems, in order to have continuing funds to support the school.  100% of all donations and proceeds are used and it is certainly a worthy cause (and a fun book of expat tales to read).  If you are interested in purchasing a copy, please let me know and I would be happy to ship it to you.         

1 comment:

Randall said...

It is NICE to see the appreciative attitude. I think our local tax money for our city schools could be better used with you. Looks like they have done a excellent job with the little resources they have.