Monday, 9 August 2010

My First Week

VSO is an international organisation which can easily be demonstrated by the other new volunteers that joined me in Abuja, the capital city, for 3 days of In Country Training (ICT).
From the left we have James from Canada, me from the UK (as I now call my home country), Aurelia from Kenya, Simon from Uganda, Jayne also from Kenya and Bibin from India. 3 of us are working in the Education programme, 2 in the Secure Livilhoods (farming) programme and one in HIV/AIDs.

Towards the end of the training our employers came to meet us in Abuja and take us back to our placements. Luckily my 7 and a half hour journey to Jigawa was in a very comfortable, air conditioned car. Although, as it is considered unsafe to eat from roadside stalls, we had to wait until we arrived to eat lunch. As I was a bit nervous that morning I could barely eat breakfast so I was very grateful when dinner arrived!

My work in Jigawa is funded by ESSPIN (Education Support Programme in Nigeria). ESSPIN has been funded by DfID (Department for International Development). As my accommodation is not ready yet, I will be staying for a short (or maybe long) time in ESSPIN's guest house. This is a very comfortable apartment, apparantly better than the best/only hotel in town. I have air conditioning, TV, Internet (most of the time), water and electricity (even when the power goes as they have a generator). I am locked behind a high wall and a secure gate with friendly guards.

Igwe, who is the manager of the building, is also cooking me food and has walked me around the town. On Saturday he wanted to introduce me to the Police Station. As I nervously stepped through the door I was wondering who I would meet. But, as it turns out, I didn't see any police. The Police Station is a secret place to drink beer! And it is full of Muslims!

Jigawa, along with other Northern States, follows the Sharia Law, which is the sacred law of Islam and alcohol is forbidden in the state.

As I had a quiet weekend I decided to go the Catholic Church with Igwe, his wife and 7 month old daughter. 3 hours, in 30 degrees heat, crammed to bursting on hard wooden benches meant that everyone welcomed to time to go wildly dancing down the aisles to the altar where they were being showered with holy water! All the Nigerians were dressed in their best, with intricate headwear, while I strangely tied a scarf around my head.
PS I also met Emily, a VSO from Bournemouth! Can't remember who told me to look out for her though!


  1. Hi Lucy,
    Great to follow your news. It all sounds amazing. When do you actually start to train?

  2. A class teacher training module has already been written, I think by ESSPIN, we will go and have training on it in a few weeks. The children are still on school holidays until after Ramadan!

    Enjoy the start of the new school year :0)