Update to Dr. Sohn's Trip
I have a very important update to share with visitors to this website.
I have just returned from a visit to Nigeria to visit the Buzu people and monitor the progress of the school. I was there from March 2-14/2012. Because of the ongoing unrest in Nigeria, which included bombings and killings, I thought it was best to notify very few people of my plans to go. I did not want the guerrilla group " Boko Harem" which translated means "western education is a sin" to know I was in the country.
I therefore made did not update this website, made no posting on facebook and only emailed a small group of family & friends about my planned visit. My Engineers without borders contact in Nigeria ( Dimeji) had said that he felt it was now safe for me to visit. He was correct, my visit was wonderful and I experienced no security concerns at all. As you can see in the photos, the school is now 95% complete!
The teachers are being hired this month, and more uniforms are being made for the approximately 200 students. The Buzu children and adults were very grateful for the help that we have provided to them in funding this school. Please see the photo of a letter given to me by he "Emir " or king of the village of Kaura Namoda, which has approximately 100,000 people and is 3 km away from the Buzu village ( the Zango). I met with him ( at his request) before I went to the tailor to order 20 uniforms for the children. (10 girls and 10 boys). The tailor quoted me a cost of $100 for 20 uniforms, I paid him $100 and he delivered them to the zango 2 days later. The emir then stated that he would supply 50 uniforms (25 boys 25 girls). Today I recently received an email stating that these uniforms have been made.
I brought many "learn to read and speak" English books, as well as notebooks, which were kindly donated by the Kortright Hills public school. There was quite a bit of excitement about the school in the Zango and in the larger town of Kaura Namoda. Things often take much time to get accomplished in Nigeria, however with the progress that we have achieved I believe the school will open in 1-2 months. I was clear that I expected all the children to go to school, an equal number of boys and girls. Initially the idea was put forth that it should be 40 boys to 25 girls. I rejected this quite clearly, making the statement that "when you educate a boy you help one boy, ( he might become educated and travel to a bigger centre to make money, maybe he'll send it back, maybe he wont) when you educate a girl, you help a village ( usually girls and women stay in the town in which they are educated). This is a well known developing world education theory.
There are several further projects that we have targeted for the school and I hope to raise a further $10,000. So far with our generous, kind and inspiring support we have raised $22,000. Because of the government withdrawal on fuel subsidies in January, which set off the riots, the costs of transportation and goods have increased. Hence we had to scale back our plans in the building but these ideas have not been forgotten.
So I am reaching out to you once again to find this project worthy once more for your financial support. The Buzu people are full of gratitude for your generosity, as am I.
I look forward to returning to Nigeria in the near future.
Following is the original posting in which Dr Sohn was forced to postpone his trip:
Due to the current political situation in Nigeria, Dr Sohn has been forced to postpone his trip to the Buzu village. The school project however, continues as planned. The following is a letter which Dr Sohn sent to his donors on January 7/2012:
I am very sad to inform you that I will not be able to go to Nigeria, as planned, at this time. After 8 months of planning, at 8:00 am this morning I got the following email from Dimeji, our Nigerian engineer from Engineers Without Borders-Nigeria. He was instrumental in the Buzu water project 4 years ago and has been very busy planning and building the Buzu school over the last year.
Needless to say, I was deeply saddened by this news. The government removed the oil subsidy in Nigeria Jan 1/2012 which has caused the price of gasoline to double in one day. A general strike has been planned throughout Nigeria Monday Jan 10th. Airports will be closed, roads will be impassable and chaos could ensue. Although this concern is not directly connected to the Buzu people, the ripple effect is not to be ignored as we need to fly into a potential trouble spot. KLM has cancelled the flight on which my wife and I were booked.