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The Way Forward: Updates on the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a hectic two weeks since I last posted here. I have spent quite some time moving around, officially rounding off my NYSC programme in Benue State, submitting a report on my personal community development service project, getting some documents sorted and much more. Besides, I had a bike accident in Makurdi on Tuesday 5th June 2012, barely ten days to our passing out parade, but thank God I am no more limping and the scars are healing well – hopefully my ankle pains will cease totally soon…

As this post is published, I am on my way back to Makurdi, Benue State after breezing in to Lagos last Friday to see my family and attend to some important matters. I am returning to Benue for the next five weeks to seek further support in order to complete the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project. Funds have not come in as much as expected, but I believe more awareness is being made. I plan to get the bricklayers back to the site to continue with the PHC building (we stopped at the foundation last month due to lack of funds). Here are some key notes:

I am considering building with burnt bricks now because they are much cheaper than cement blocks, though they consume more mortar (cement). Many houses in Benue State are built with burnt bricks and in fact you hardly know after they have been plastered adequately with cement.

In the next one week, I will be looking out for a reputable and trustworthy NGO that I can partner with; anorganisation that would be willing to commit time and efforts in ensuring continuity when I leave Benue State at the end of July 2012. I envisage this would be a pretty difficult task, but I hope for the best. Perhaps, the NGO would be able to open an account in the name of the project and more people and organisations could be encouraged to support financially and otherwise since trust is hard. Two representatives from the community could be made signatories to the account alongside a representative from the NGO (preferrably, the executive director).

I also hope to get a detailed income and expenditure account ready based on the funds raised by me as at the end of July 2012.

While I gear towards resuming the building as soon as we have fifty bags of cement on ground and additional 8,000 burnt bricks, I will be bringing you interviews with a few former Corps members who have been able to make a difference in the Nongov Community, especially in the area of Education. I hope that more funds and support would come in and that my meetings with government officials and prospective supporters would yield positive results in the coming weeks.

I encourage you to donate to this cause and help get the word out to your contacts and appropriate quarters. Thank you all for your support so far. We are making a difference!

P.S: Here is a recent article I wrote on Kindly read and share with your networks. Thanks!

The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!

The Benue Notes: 14 Year Old Kenger Igba is Dead – Another Reason to Help Build the Nongov Community a Primary Health Centre


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Children’s Day Special: 1,200 Exercise Books, Textbooks, and Other Stationery Donated to Students and Teachers in the Nongov Community

Gbenga Awomodu with the PTA Chairman and students of Kings Technology Academy, Gbeji Village, Nongov Community

It was a memorable day in Gbeji Village, Nongov Community, Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, when on May 28th 2012, 1,200 exercise books, courtesy, a US-based NGO, and several other educational items were donated to the children of Kings Technology Academy. Though it was a lecture-free day set aside to mark the 2012 Children’s Day and many of the students had trekked several kilometres to celebrate with students from neighbouring communities, over 200 of KTA’s 300 plus students were in school to receive gifts that would change their lives and further ignite their passion for schooling.

I realised some of the peculiar challenges here when I started taking sessions on the Millenium Development Goals with the children and one of the school teachers had to start interpreting to the children. Many did not have school uniforms, most did not have exercise books and pencils/pens, and school bags were a luxury. I decided to get more materials – pencils, sharperners, erasers, textbooks for the school (teachers), and waste bins for the school – in order to give the children more reason to love schooling and stay longer in classes. Special thanks go to Millions4One.Org, Sunkanmi Akinnifesi, Olanrewaju David, Ibidunni Oluwole, Emmanuel Madu who made this educational project a reality.

The Primary Health Centre project is still on and I plead that you share the project idea with someone today. Work (laying of cement blocks and raising the buliding beyond the foundation level, where it is currently) is scheduled to resume early next week, but we need to have at least 50 bags of cement on ground before engaging the site workers again. I appreciate all support thus far, and we can only hope for more concerted efforts. Thanks!

Below are photographs from the May 28th event. The video files are currently being editted.

The Parents and Teachers’ Association Chairman receiving the gifts on behalf of the Kings Technology Academy

A parent giving vote of thanks, and stating that if he had enjoyed same privilege, he would have gone to school

Gbenga Awomodu and four of the school teachers at Kings Technology Academy, Gbeji, Nongov

Students of Kings’ Academy, Gbeji, Nongov in school after the May 28th distribution

Gbenga Awomodu with the parents after the presentation of gifts to the children

A cross-section of the students singing the Nigerian National Anthem

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More Notes on the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You can still make a Difference!

It has been several weeks since I wrote the introductory post about building Nongov Community’s Primary Health Centre. Since then, I have been in an unending circle of activities and pursuits – trying to raise more funds and following up on submitted proposals. The good news is that we have finally done the foundation of the building, and the other news is that we still have a long way to go! That distance can only be shortened when adequate funds are available – I have been told the whole structure can be built and equipped in less than three weeks if all funds and resources are ready. While I still plead that you donate and encourage others in your networks to do same, today, I write on the general concerns and frequently asked questions that I have had to tackle since I started sharing the project idea with people as early as February 2012.

The choice of Nongov: My immediate boss at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Makurdi, still asked this question earlier in the week. Of course, there are millions of communities in this world so much that scarce resources cannot go round to fix all the problems in all of those communities. I chose Nongov because I saw a need – a serious one, at that. I visited the Nongov community in January for the first time and throughout the two days that we (members of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship, Benue State Chapter) spent there, it was glaring that these people needed some serious intervention, especially in education, health, and social infrastructure (most notably, good road network). Chief Moses Awua, a notable community leader, kept asking us to plead their cause with the government. They felt we had access. Yes, we do. I eventually made up my mind in February after our Evangelism Secretary at the time returned to build a block of three classrooms. It is not of the best architectural designs, neither was it built with the best materials in the world, but it would make a lot of difference in the lives of the kids who had spent months under open huts and on logs of wood which served as seats for them. I was moved when I learnt the women still give birth on banana leaves; even the wives of the chiefs. In this clime, it is not strange to have pregnant women conveyed in wheel barrows, over several kilometres, to the nearest health post. But, we can make a difference. The use of modern health facilities is culturally acceptable in the Nongov community.

I am not a Medic! Someone also asked, “Is the writer a medic?” Oops! I studied Chemical Engineering in the university… But, wait! I am blessed with a rich network of diverse professionals, including medical doctors. I believe in building global partnerships and networking with professionals in other fields of endeavour, aside one’s primary discipline. I am grateful to Dr. Adedayo Osholowu and Mr. Idris Ayodeji Bello, two exceptional Nigerians who have allowed me to tap into their networks whilst educating me further and making me answer some critical questions about the project. It would be interesting to also add that: in 2007, I was an independent consultant for Action Health Incorporated, Lagos, and the job took me to four States in North-Eastern Nigeria where I assessed sixteen partner organisations which had been involved in the David & Lucille Packard Foundation-sponsored Expanded Access to Sexuality Education (EASE) project between 2002 and 2007. The two weeks of moving around Nasarawa, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna States brought me in close contact with abject poverty and real challenges being faced in development work, especially health care. I had to interview the principal officers and write a story on each partner organisation I visited. That experience, albeit non-technical, has come in handy here.

Sustainability of the Project: Sustainability is more than just a buzz word in healthcare and development circles. It is indeed important that short, medium and long-term projections be considered and drawn up in planning and executing development projects. One of the early respondents to my first proposal draft commended that I had put a good measure of thought into the bigger picture and long-term implications of embarking on the Nongov Primary Health Centre project by considering staffing and similar aspects. Nevertheless, he raised the issue of sustained drug supply, among others. He went further to express concern that the building could be converted into pens and for residential purposes later if not properly managed. Tough question, but with proper planning this can be tackled. Several weeks ago, Dr. Osholowu sent me the link to a success story from Kwara State, Nigeria, where a similar health scheme had been done. The beneficiaries, majorly farmers, contributed to a health insurance scheme facilitated by Hygeia, a health maintenance organisation (HMO), which ensured that drug was consistently supplied and the farmers and their households derived optimum benefit from the scheme. I believe this can work in Nongov (or anywhere else in Benue) – with proper planning.

I have to stop here today as I am off to the Nongov community to continue dialogues with the community people on the Millennium Development Goals, as a way of preparing their minds and getting them to bring back some of their children who have some health care experience, but are currently living in other towns in Benue State. Please, donate and share the message. I will be back soon!


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This Week on the Nongov Project – Chasing Sponsors, Some Progress and Champions League Finals in Nongov

It’s been a rather busy week – one which started with a lot of concerns and called for some slight changes in programme, but ended on an encouraging note.

On Monday, I was at Joy FM Otukpo where I met with Nancy Enwereji, a presenter at the radio station. She had read my posts on and offered to interview me on one of her weekly programmes. For certain reasons, I could not arrive in Otukpo before 11am, the end of her show, we got to talk at length about the project and I submitted a few audio files from some of the interviews I have had with two of the locals so far. I will be there early tomorrow on her Monday morning show between 9am and 11am. I hope to reach a wide audience and answer questions from the public about the project.

Most of Wednesday was spent tidying up some proposals, which deterred me from following up at Dangote Cement in Gboko. It is not easy juggling so many things at the same time o! I guess you knew that already. Eventually, most proposals were turned in, but I could not submit the one for MDGs office as someone suggested on my last post. I got a sincere advice from a man I met there; he gently told me that many other Corps members had been there and that they do not handle the funds, except that they are just in charge of paying contractors who usually would have been pre-qualified and selected by the government through a given process. On Friday, it was time to submit the updated timeline for the project as well as new photographs related to and from the project at the Ministry of Health. I also wrote a letter gently reminding them of the earlier requests (staffing and equipping the centre) and informing them of the new date for the sensitization on health and general hygiene targeted at the entire Nongov community. I hope to have a health educator and the head of births from the Ministry of Health address the people on May 28th.

Eventually, I got into Nongov on Friday evening, some minutes past seven. On Saturday, the mason and the bricklayers were not on site, but I still got some photographs from the site showing the progress made during the week while I was away in Makurdi intensifying efforts to raise funds and other support. The foundation was done earlier on in the week. I also had the opportunity of paying courtesy visits to several stakeholders in the community once more, even meeting a few of them for the first time. Everyone is excited about the MDGs training for the children (which would now hold in the new week) as well as the community dialogue on the MDGs which will hold on the same day as the health awareness programme. Now I need to catch some sleep in time for the morning’s interview. Here are five photographs as well as a short audio clip from the Nongov village. Yes, we watched the Champion’s league live! Many young men trekked several kilometers to converge at the missionary base to watch the match. They were mostly Chelsea and Drogba fans… Do have a fabulous week ahead and remember to donate and spread the news! Make a difference! 🙂

P.S.: The construction work will resume only after some substantial amount and bags of cement are secured in order to save some cost and not keep the workers waiting for too long.

Update!: Radio interview now either this Friday or next Monday.

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Millions4One.Org Approves 1,200 Books for the Kids in the Nongov Community!

A lot has evolved since I made the first post on this blog. I have written a few articles online about the project and the comments have been coming in from different parts of the world. Not much funds have been realised so far, but two – notable things that happened this week: a reader paid in a sum of two thousand Naira (approx. 13 USD) towards the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project, and, a US-based non-profit organisation which raises funds towards implementing developmental projects largely in the educational sector, has approved a donation of 1,200 exercise books for the use of the school children in Nongov Community. I will be receiving the items from their Lagos-based volunteer next week and this would be timely as I will be holding a three-day training for selected (about forty) elementary school students in the community on the Millenium Development Goals. Some days later, I will be organising a two-day dialogue with some parents, young adults and key stakeholders in the community on the Millenium Development goals. I hope to get some stickers done on which the eight (8) MDGs would be printed both in English and the Tiv (native) languages. I will be back shortly with more detailed updates while I also tweak this blog a bit. I also hope to install a widget to give readers an idea of funds raised on the go. Please, contribute towards the success of this project and tell others in your network. Your sincere and candid opinion are welcome and appreciated. Kindly use the comment bok. See you soon!


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Introducing the Nongov Project

Hello Readers!

I am Gbenga Awomodu, a Batch B (2011/2012) Benue State Corps Member. I have started this blog to chronicle an unfolding story of development and challenges in the life of the people of Nongov Community in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State. It is the story of a people long forgotten; over ten thousand adults and children scattered in small huts and hamlets across a large expanse of land. They lack electricity, clean/potable water, and several other basic amenities, but they have survived several decades. It is the dawn of a new day in Nongov as some young Nigerians serving under one-year compulsory National Youth Service Corps programme  recently discovered the community. These Corps members have started to do as much as they could to drive sustainable community development via advocacy, community awareness and sensitization visits, and actual physical projects. It is hoped that eventually, the government would wake up to the needs of the Nongov people whilst the people themselves would wake up to take responsibility for driving the much-desired transformation of their homeland. We seek as much support as we can obtain from the good people of this world – individuals, government officials, private donors, corporate sponsors, and everybody across the globe. Watch this space for many tales of development as they unfold. I’ll be right back!


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