Officials from the Abia State Ministry of Education came by to inspect our school Homestead Alternative Academy. Perhaps it was due to our coming in second place in the private school competition held recently in the State. We are pleased to report that they were very happy for the work we are doing in the school, educating not our own TWCF Children’s Home children , but now opening seats to children in the community to attend. They were very pleased with our system of classes, teaching instruction, elective opportunities, and social emotional learning. They were also very impressed with our collaborative learning process of meeting students where they are at to ensure learning out comes.
Mr. Amos Antoka, one of our TWCFN Directors and our Abia State Site Manger, along with our Office Manger Gideon (HeavyD), and Principal Victoria, offer incredible oversight and hands-on work with our teachers and children to ensure our Homestead learning environment is one of collaboration, peace, joy, and learning. Their hard work of setting-up learning, which incorporates Canadian, American, and Nigerian curriculum, offers a wide variety of lessons and learning opportunities for the students which invite curious questions, personal and shared learning, and positive attitudes toward education.
Look at these amazing cucumber vines! We are so impressed with the staff and children’s farming. Not only have they worked hard to plant, tend and grow various crops throughout the seasons, they also have incredible fun doing it while learning useful life skills.
Snack time at Homestead Alternative Academy was filled with all kinds of crunchiness this week! Thank TWCF staff and children for your farming to provide fresh healthy snacks for all your classmates at school.
We are so excited to announce that this year, Homestead Alternative Academy, opened up seats in the school for community children to attend. Forty (yes 4-0!) new children were added to our school grades, between Kindergarten and Grade 7, some classes saw lots of intakes, and others just a few. There was great excitement both in TWCF children and staff with adding new students, as well as in the community once they heard we opened enrolment. There was a mob at the gate with many families jousting and vying for their children to attend, and while the number accept seemed low to the community, it is a huge difference and undertaking for TWCF and for the Homestead Teachers and Students.
Once the forty new students were accepted and starting day came around, there was great excitement in the compound, which took a couple weeks for everyone to settle into new rhythms with new friends/classmates and into routines of learning.
Who said math manipulative counters need to be plastic cube counters from the teacher store?? Why not use what you have! Students are encouraged to pick whatever counters they would like when they begin learning their addition and subtraction in early years class. Some students pick rocks, some pick sticks, some pick beans from the kitchen, some pick lego pieces from the bin… creativity and choice help enhance learning for everyone!
A full house, with staff, family members, close friends, and children (most of whom are now taller than our Christmas tree!) Still, there is always an atmosphere of excitement and joy on Christmas morning at TWCF. I think we will need to get a bigger tree next year, to fit everything underneath. It was a wonderful holiday period this year, with lots of crafts, singing, sports activities, and cooking. The children continue to cherish the holiday time, offering songs and drama’s at their church as well as in the house for each other.
Our sons are growing so big, getting tall, becoming stronger, braver, funnier, more filled out, expert footballers, wonderful helpers…and as you can see dashingly handsome. Each one of these amazing fellas (including our two Angels Mike and Gabe who are not in the picture), bring so much joy, so much wisdom, and so much laughter in to the TWCF home. Our hearts and home would not be the same if even one of them was missing. We are so blessed that their lives have come to be part of TWCF.
Our fabulous daughters, shining in their Nija print Christmas dresses! How bold, bright, and beautiful are they… and these dresses are a true reflection of the indomitable spirits of our girls. Bold and courageous, bright and full of joy, beautiful on the inside and out. TWCF is blessed by their kind hearts, eager brains, and helping spirits!
A Sunday School competition held in the summer, with a focus on the Bible book of Daniel. Our children were very eager to participate and try there hand in competition against other children. Several of our children were selected to represent TWCF in the competition, and all our children studied and practiced together. The first competition was held in our local government area, where children from all surrounding church and school groups came together. Our children won FIRST Prize out of several hundred children!
The second part of the competition was held for the whole northern part of Abia State, and was to be held in Umuahia, our capital city. Our children entered the second competition, representing the youngest children in the whole competition out of thousands of children, and came in 6th place. They were given notice for their young age, their most perfect english, and their responses in full sentences. Everyone was amazed. We are so proud of them, and more importantly, the children were proud of themselves and each other for doing so well and being so brave!
We are coming up on an election year for Nigeria in Feb of 2019, for a new President and National Assembly. Ongoing political unrest, and now campaigning and promises, headline the national news and take up a great deal of in-country leadership focus. Elections affect everyone, everywhere.
There continues to be unrest and warring between the herdsmen tribes and various local farming communities, with little being done to address the root issues, just attention focused on the horrible outcomes of each crisis. These issues easily overflow into Christian vs Muslim conflicts in terms of retaliations. This crisis, while more predominant in other states, does at times affect our state as herdsmen still pass through, and we are in a farming state.
The recent rains have caused mass flooding in multiple states, including Anambra State which is just above us in Abia. Since we are so close, we have been affected by the flooding and erosions. Many of the roads wash away which not only kills people (as their cars fall into it), but it cuts of access to the cities. One of our access roads has been completely washed away, replaced by deep ravines impossible to cross. We have one access road to the city left which is in dire straits and dangerous to use at this time.
Nigeria continues to face multiple challenges on all fronts, with the most alarming situations relating to the violation of basic human rights and lack of human security in the wake of 9+years of Boko Haram terrorism.The fallout from the last years of Boko Haram terrorism and attacks has left millions of people in horrific circumstances that continue to grow on a daily basis. Many of the camps do not provide adequate food, water and shelter, and there has been gross misconduct and violation of human rights in the camps with many of the women and girls being assaulted. It is a heartbreaking situation that continues to draw global media attention and should until it is properly addressed. Recent UN convoys to the country and talks are surrounding the need for global intervention and support to help these people heal, recover and get their lives set back up.
TWCF has always had self-sustainably as a long-term goal. It has not, however, always been able to work toward this goal. The struggle, for TWCF, in Nigeria for survival is very real. By survival I mean, knowing where the next meal is coming from and if you have enough for everyone. Can we afford clean water today, enough water for washing and cooking, can we afford more nutritious food or must we stick with the same carb/starch diet for another few weeks without any veg or fruit? Can we pay everyone’s staff salary…who will have to sacrifice salary to ensure others who need it more are paid first…do we risk the drive to the hospital for urgent situations and what makes it more urgent then another? These are regular questions the staff at TWCF face on a daily weekly basis. When these decisions revolve around using money or resources for basic urgent needs, deciding when or how much to put into ‘sustainability’ projects are never on the table.
This has been the case for many years. In the last few years though, with a growing number of staff, who have proven faithful and loyal and become contributing members of their own free will to the livelihood and needs of the TWCF family, we have been ability to divert some finances, slowly but surely, into some sustainable options for the future. TWCF now proudly boasts a small poultry operation which holds at 300 birds on a regular basis. Half are layers and half are broilers, and while this provides a more nutritious diet and meal plan for the home now, it also provides TWCF with a small business and income to manage other needs in the home. Our poultry and egg sales have gathered a regular cliental basis, from the main junction grocery shop, the largest junction market as well as rotating village markets, to those that stop by the site as well as place all event/holiday orders (one customer order 40 broilers for an event).
TWCF ventured into small scale turkey and goat farming in the last year as well and has seen this ventures ability to grow businesswise, let alone that it provides our children with learning and skill opportunities! The staff at TWCF also started a small co-op among themselves, with portions of their own salary, and purchased various plots of land in several communities to begin farming. Not only has this again reduced food costs in the home, but is has create awareness and sales in the village markets by those who want to support the ‘orphans’ in their community. We are so excited for these opportunities and ideas, and for the ownership and accountability we see in the staff and community for the children in our care. We all must work together, share the burdens, so we can all move forward together.
Our school is currently in its last semester of the second year of official operations. It is amazing that this much time has gone by! Our last blog post two years ago before website reconstruction was to announce the formal registration of our very own ‘alternative’ school. We have now run for two years with the support of Abia State Ministry of Education, and seen drastic improvement in our children’s lives.
We have also grown from a start-up staff of 3 teachers and 1 Ed Admin, to a staff of 5 teachers, 1 Education Assistant, 1 Speech and Language (SLP) Assistant, 1 PE Teacher, and 1 Ed Admin and Principal. We also have 1 practicum placement university student and two day a week Nigerian Youth Corper (NYC) volunteers. We have PreK, K, Gr 2A, Gr 2B and Gr3 classes. We have 3 children doing SLP 3x a week, with an additional 2 children starting next year. We have 2 children on either modified or fully modified Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and basically all other children on behaviour/social/emotional adaption IEPs. Both outside school time as well as during classes, various therapeutic interventions are implemented in an on-going basis. Our teachers have staff trainings 1-2x a month, as well as weekly dialogue meetings.
It is for all these reasons that our school is becoming more noted by both the community and state government officials, and namely that our children are positively moving forward in all spheres of their life. The Christmas holiday at starting at the end of the second week of Dec, will mark the close of the 2017 calendar year of Homestead Alternative Academy. We are so excited for the new year of 2018 and the joys and growth it will bring.
The Wanted Children Foundation (TWCF), was established in 2006 to meet the growing numbers of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria, West Africa.
The goal of TWCF is to improve the quality of life for these children by providing a family-centered home that promotes the love and compassion of Jesus Christ, where there is care in a safe and nurturing environment, health and nutrition, education, psychosocial support, and access to necessary medical care.