Stories

Stories of Hope: Nigeria

Aug 28, 2014

Kristine Hall

Diana wakes up on a warm, sunny Monday morning, stretches her arms up, and reflects on the day ahead.  It is a school day!  She loves the hours ahead, when she can get lost in an interesting story, a history lesson, a complicated math concept and compete with her classmates. It’s seven hours a day where her identity is ‘student’ and not ‘orphan’. She dresses in her blue school uniform, gathers her homework, eats breakfast, and sets off for school.

We meet Diana at age 12, when she first arrives from a local village to live at Destiny Home in Nigeria.  Despite her enthusiasm for school, it’s evident something has been missing in Diana’s education. She is lacking critical foundational skills in reading and other subject areas having missed many years of classes, and so Diana resumes schooling at Destiny Home soon after her arrival.

It is common to have many same-aged Nigerian children with varied learning levels in the same grade; with teacher strikes, wet season challenges and countrywide crisis, schooling can be interrupted.  This is where her educational story begins.

Diana is eager to learn and grateful to have any opportunity to re-build her foundational skills.  She enters the school at Destiny Home with a drive to learn; it works in her favor as she overcomes the setbacks of her earlier years.  Living and learning in the same location has some disadvantages, there is always a distraction, something else to do and her peers all struggle like she does. She wonders if, at some point, she might attend a school outside the grounds with a library.  This in-facility school was a great first step, but with limited resources and space being used for food, utilities and educational materials, sometimes teacher resources get what is left over.

But God is unlimited in how He provides.  For Diana, and other children at Destiny Home, He provided resources to generate change and diversify educational opportunities.  Now funded to attend a nearby private academy, Diana can venture through the gates of Destiny Home toward new opportunity – opportunity initiated with a challenge: the entrance exam.  Before admission into the Academy, Diana is required to take an entrance exam to assess her grade level. This is no small task.  Results come in, and at age 13, Diana is placed in grade 3.  Standing a head taller than her classmates, she surveys her class with disappointment. The road ahead looks long, as Diana begins the first term of a three-term school year.

Diana makes the decision to really try.  She continues to complete her daily homework, and she studies (even when it may not be checked.) Through the encouragement of her child sponsor, the staff at Destiny Home, and the Back2Back staff, she chooses a path toward restored education.  The results are miraculous!

In one school term, Diana is at the top of her third grade class making enough progress to be promoted one grade level – a full grade level gain in a few short months.

In January 2014, Diana is promoted to grade 4.

Diana’s internal motivation generates perseverance, but even with such strong effort, she needs support from caring adults.  With instruction, reading comes naturally to Diana, but math is a challenge.  Tracy and Leah Smart, Back2Back staff, are helping Diana catch up with her fourth grade math class.  (They confess to having completed more long division in the past few months than they have in a lifetime!)

Now, Diana is becoming more independent in her learning.  She remains focused and committed to learning, as the burdens of transportation, school fees and school supplies have been lifted through generous donations.   Her educational advancements have deposited bursts of confidence into her outlook on life.

Today, Diana wakes up, dons her school uniform, collects her books, and heads out of Destiny Home to encounter a new day of learning.  As the van drives off in the distance, she readies herself for new challenges. There is a confidence there now and a hint of a smile crosses her face as she thinks, I can’t wait to show the teacher my new trick for long division.

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