Big meeting…and result

Steve and I went into Umuahia to have our much awaited meeting with the State Director of SSS. It was a wonderful meeting! We were so pleased and and relieved at the outcome of it. We have now been able to get to know the man more and he is in full support of what we are doing in this area. He gave us wise council and advice, asked us good questions to make sure we have thought of everything and covered all aspects in regards to setting up our projects. He believes that due to his work the area is okay for us to stay in and not have to have full-time security. (Yay!) However he will have SSS come around and see us and check, as well as undercover SSS in the village to make sure that we are protected and secured. We are so relieved that we do not have to have them visibly follow us. Also, if we are traveling to any area that he thinks sketchy, he will send them to escort us every time.
Another big thing, after a suggestion from our friend Philip, and some careful consideration and prayer, during our meeting I asked if it was possible for him to help us with a vehicle temporary as our arrangements had fallen through, we were without a vehicle and it was near impossible for us to do anything without having transportation, and if he could help us we would be so grateful… Well he thought and then said OF COURSE. Let me see what I can do. And it seems that the driver of our security team from last time is now assigned to us with a 4 door pick-up truck for us to be using. YAY!
So needless to say it went very well. There were a few other positive outcomes but I will just wait to report to you all on the outcome of those.

[divider_top]

Two more Canadians arrived :)

This week has been so busy. We welcomed John and Leonie, two of our other summer team members. They finally arrived safe and sound to us here in the village by the late afternoon on Wed (not after being stopped at many roadblocks and being asked if they were kidnapped by the drivers… sigh, Nigeria). They were lucky to arrive WITH all their papers and travel documents still with them.
We had issues with retaining the van we were arranging to use for the next few days, so the second driver was released and sent away. Our main driver Ifeanyi went to Umuahia to make arrangements for something else. He was able to find someone who would give us a van and driver for the set prices, everyone else as soon as they knew we were white refused to do it unless they were paid way more since we are white and can apparently afford it. Ifeanyi found a good deal for us. So we have had a van to move around a little bit and start getting things done finally!

[divider_top]

Events of the last week

Since we have been in the village we have been mostly having conversations, writing lots of documents, speaking with guests and visitors who are dropping by, and work on the house. Steve, Amos, and on of our neighbours HeavyD have been cleaning the compound by digging holes and burying metal, glass, and garbage. We have been burning lots of garbage also. Cat and I have been bleaching floors, killing mice things (chichi-ba) and lizards in rooms and get them ready for beds or office supplies. We have also been carrying lots of water, and cooking. Steve and HeavyD chopped down a banana tree that was touch our NEPA power lines in hopes that it would help…it hasn’t haha, the light is just that bad, as in when it is even on. It has been on three times in 6 days. They also chopped down some big trees that were growing to close inside the compound walls and making the wall crack. And by chop down I mean using a machete. We are trying to write lists of supplies that we are going to need from town… which is a lot, however we do not have a vehicle so it is very difficult. We haven’t been able to move out of the compound since we arrived. I have walked down the road a couple times to buy phone credit, but I am not suppose to until we have clearance from the head of state security. The Igwe gave us his second vehicle to use, so Amos went Thursday to go and collect it from Port Harcourt. Unfortunately it is in disrepair and broke down on the way. So we finally got it on Friday night but we are not sure about using it. Steve and Amos and HeavyD spent some time working on it on Saturday but it is going to be sketchy to use. But we have to get around somehow. We are praying for getting a vehicle here to use that is in good shape for a couple weeks or at least until we get our own. We have connections to be able to purchase/ship/clear of the docks a vehicle from Toronto over to here. We however just need to “find” the vehicle we need for the price we can afford and then people to help pay for it! So if you know anyone who can help in those areas… let us know!!!!
There are lots of pics up on Instagram and FB.

[divider_top]

Arrival the Village

I suppose it has been awhile since I have wrote on the blog and I blame it on the VILLAGE! :) We have now been down in the village for about 6 days. We travelled by road on Tuesday, and after 9 hours, arrived at our home. It was a very long trip, but it rained only once, so the road was clear and dry to drive on. We stopped a few times to get fuel and pump up the air in the tires. It was wonderful to finally get to the house. Our staff Amos was waiting for us, and our widow and three kids!
The last several days have been filled with lots of talk and discussions with various people that have come by as well as with Amos, in order to prepare the hearts and minds of those around, for the work that we are going to start again. It is very important that everyone has a very clear understanding of what we are going to be doing here, so that our program and system is not abused, but rather supported and valued by those in our community and surrounding areas. We have very specific guidelines and program as to how this project  is going to work (as in we are here to help orphaned children who fit a specific criteria), which means it will take time before the community themselves will be benefited.  So we need grace as we help share this and they need understanding to accept it.

[divider_top]

Big awesome news!!

Well, after waiting for what seem like EVER, we have received our official legal Certificate of Incorporation for “The Wanted Children Foundation Nigeria” NGO to operate in Nigeria!!!!!
We are so excited and relieved. Having this paper is a big piece of our puzzle in place. Now that we have it, we can begin making preparations for children to live with us. We will be working with the Tribal Council Leaders and the Religious leaders in our area to help identify children that fit our specific criteria. We will take children starting from our immediate location, and then slowly expand out. We will reserve a few spots at all times for our collaborative efforts with the Governments Human Trafficking Law Enforcement Agency.
We will be leaving Abuja shortly to get to the village finally! We are so ready, we heard from our staff Amos, that the people and children in the village are “disturbing seriously” at the gate, saying where are we and why haven’t we come yet, they are waiting for us!!

[divider_top]

New lodging in the city!

Well after 9 days in a small room with a double bed for the three of us, a secure but small compound that you cant go out of…we have moved to a new place!!! The previous place is the one we typically stay at when we come in an out of Abuja, but as funds are tight right now, we opted to share a room, and even with that the space in the compound is small and the expenses add up after that many days! Remember it is not cheap to live here, many things are the equivalent of home in Canada. So we had a close friend of a close friend of mine, offer for us to come and stay in his house with him! It is in a large secure and gated housing area so we can go for walks, and the house is wonderful, we have our own rooms and bathrooms and a kitchen to cook our own food. So we are living together with the other people in the house; it is good to be in fellowship with others! We also have use of the second car in the house and a driver. We moved here just yesterday (Saturday) and will be here until we go down to the village. Still hoping for our paperwork to be ready on Wed. In the meanwhile we are setting up some more meetings with key people, government groups, and embassies for this week.

[divider_top]

Busy few days

Last two days have been busy and productive. We have met with the South African and Japanese Embassies finding out good information regarding support for grassroots projects. We have had our letters of introduction passed on from the individuals we met and spoke with to their boards as well as some Nigerian businesses and retired politicians that these embassy individuals are in contact with. We are happy with those meetings. We also have had some meetings with individuals that are in strong networking positions for us. We have been receiving strong verbal support and encouragement for our strength and courage to be working in Nigeria, alas we have not received and financial support yet. Steve and Peter spent time yesterday looking at some vehicles as it is imperative we have one as soon as possible. Catherine and I went with a good friend of mine Kayode, to meet with someone who has a children’s home running up here. We were able to hear wonderful ideas and support from them as to how they set up and run. We then went and visited the home! It currently has seven orphans that are in between 8 and 15yrs old and it is run by a young couple and their baby who are the house parents! These children are well under the typical size for their ages, due to the trauma they have experienced. The psychological effects from the traumas they have gone through directly relate to growth and development in children. It was wonderful to meet them all, spending time speaking with each of them and being shown around their place. Great insights from the couple as to how they work with these children. We also visited a public/government funded children’s home that has 56 children from 0-18. While it is wonderful that these children have shelter/food/and schooling, the conditions and program are sadly lacking.

[divider_top]

First couple days in Abuja

Hey everyone,
We arrived safe and sound in Abuja, no missed flights and only a slight delay leaving London. We were greeted quickly after getting off the plane by a new immigration official who promptly took our papers/passports and let us go collect our luggage. Unfortunately there was a problem getting everyone’s luggage off the plane so that made for a LONG and crowded wait with lots of pushing. Eventually we got all our bags and papers and walked quickly through customs without having our bag contents checked. Our previous driver from March was there with Peter to greet us and take us to our regular accommodations in Abuja.

In the past four days we have seemed to get a lot done (as well as catching up on sleep when the rain is too much to go out). We have met with our Lawyer several times to continue processing our paper work. As of today it should be officially completed in one weeks time and we will receive our certificate of incorporation. YAY! We also met with the Comptroller of Immigration, who explained how expatriate quotas work and what will work best for us and our volunteers. He took our passports today and will extend all our visa’s and have them ready by tomorrow. YAY! We met with the South African Embassy’s First Secretary and introduced ourselves and handed out our  first letters explaining the Foundation and project goals. He was very helpful in saying he would pass our letters to the former Governor of Abia State whom he was dining with that night, as well as to some of the Embassy executives and board at the upcoming Nelson Mandela Day Celebrations.

So now we await getting our passports back as we need them to enter any of the embassies, and we wait for the final meeting with our lawyer tomorrow for the last signatures.  (PS. visit the FB page – The Wanted Children Foundation, and our Instagram – twcf, to keep up on new little blurbs of info and pictures!)

[divider_top]

HAHA, new update again…

Phone call from the High Commission at 6am this morning saying there was a mistake made, that our two other volunteers should not have had their visa denied, and to send their passports in again right away to get their visas! Haha, sigh… what can you do. SO, the dates where already changed but at least for sure now John and Leonie will be joining us in three weeks time for three weeks!

In the meanwhile the three of us going now will spend sometime in the capital city working through different paperwork and meetings to help on all fronts of the projects. Keep us in your prayers lots of big things need to happen.

[divider_top]

You can never be certain…

Well, there has been a slight change in plans.

John and Leonie, the two individuals who were joining us on this trip, received their passports back from the Nigerian High Commission in Ottawa on Friday, with no visas.  While this is extremely frustrating and changes our initial trip plans, it reminds us that we must continually roll with the punches, as things will never happen according to our timeline. We trust that God has an answer to the “why” questions and we will constantly wait for the right doors to open.

So, the new plan is that the three of us who are arriving in Nigeria this week, will spend time in the capital city sorting through immigration paperwork and invitation letters, with the plan that John and Leonie will be joining us in three weeks time. We will also be finalizing our official documents for establishing the Nigerian branch of TWCF in Nigeria. With that done we are able to legally accept children into the home,  invite our own volunteers to come over, as well as hopefully apply for grants and designated project monies available through the many embassies represented in Abuja (the capital city of Nigeria).

 

[divider_top]