I have been working with children for about 20 years now. I started as a Bible study leader for a children’s program with BSF here in Jos, but it blossomed into a personal passion to see children reached with the undiluted word of God, knowing that the knowledge of the word of God has the power to transform lives.
In the year 2013, I started reaching out to children in the rural village of Miango, where I was living at the time, by teaching them Bible stories and lessons. By 2019, I’d moved to another rural village, Jebbu Miango Kpachudu, in Bassa LGA of Plateau State. My husband and I started a Bible club (with about 15-20 children in attendance each week). We invited the neighbours’ children to our front door for bible lessons and games and the turnout was encouraging in its incremental nature.
After a few months of doing this, Christmas came and we planned the first Christmas party which was later tagged as “A Jebbu Christmas” in 2020 and is now formally known as “A Claire Christmas”. The first Christmas party was planned solo and we welcomed about 300 hundred children to eat, drink, be merry and we shared the powerful message of Christmas with them. As a result, we recorded an exponential increase in our weekly class attendance – more children showed up at our doorstep.
As with any typical rural village in Nigeria, so were the peculiar needs that we were faced with, one was the challenge of school students in upper elementary not knowing how to read or write well, and the worst of the challenges faced, was having many students in grade 3 who are unable to identify their alphabets.
This led to introducing phonic lessons in addition to the bible club. These lessons were held every Sunday, to fit into the 40-hour-work-week schedule I had. The increasing number of eager learners posed a great challenge to me. We needed more hands on the job. At first, I invited my childhood friend, Blessed Onuoha, who is a teacher, and together we welcomed about 60 children each week – children who were at different levels of understanding and grades. The work was overwhelming, so I took to social media to call on volunteers who could come out on Sundays to help us. This call led to the growth of our literacy classes. Today, we have volunteers who head out to Jebbu Miango 4 times a week to teach children after school, as a supplementary education.
In July 2020, while welcoming students one Sunday, I decided to give each child a book to engage with while sitting on the short fence of my home. As I took photos of them that day, I remembered a quote I saw on Twitter a week before “every community in Nigeria has a football viewing centre, irrespective of how remote that village is” then I added to that quote that “every community, irrespective of how remote has a viewing centre and a liquor joint, but they don’t have community libraries”. We believe so much in the power of reading and its ability to bring innovation.
This birthed the dream to build a library and resource centre for our community. Today, the library structure is under construction and at 70% completion. We believe that in no time, we will have a fully furnished space where our learners can comfortably and confidently learn literacy skills alongside digital skills.
Due to the reoccurring violence in the Jebbu Miango community, we were moved to start interventions on multiple fronts. Its facets range from helping the families of the learners who participate in our literacy classes by providing basic food items and clothing when they lost everything they owned, to rebuilding their homes and helping them resettle their lives. The project is called “Together for Jebbu”. Post these attacks, we observed a change in the emotional disposition of our students. Because these children have unfortunately been exposed to this violence over and over again, it brought on a lot of trauma and emotional outbursts. As a result of this great need, a project for helping people heal was started – The trauma healing project.
Over the years, we have been privileged to partner with several individuals and organisations who have worked with us to execute various projects. All of which are geared towards empowering this community and inspiring them to lead better lives. We are indebted to all the volunteers and partners who have joined in this vision.
Our work continues. There is still enormous work ahead and we look forward to working with you for the betterment of this community and others we would go into