A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the urgent need for young people in Nigeria to get off their backs and do something if we would be able to rewrite the script of the horror movie Nigeria is almost holding auditions for! When I wrote that, we were still reeling from the shock of the Independence Day blasts, still trying to clip shut our mouths gaping in awe of the Ibru heist, and of course we were re-enacting Inception with Mr. President (since he no longer wants to be called C-in-C), MEND, Jomo Gbomo, Cynthia White, and ‘man of the hour’, Henry Okah.

In the midst of this hullabaloo, the judiciary kicked Segun Oni out as governor of Ekiti State (almost three and a half years after the elections but that is a different matter) and installed the rightful winner, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. If I’m correct he brings to five (so far) the number of states that will have separate elections (Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti, Rivers, and Edo) but again that’s a different matter.

Again of course there was the surprise and celebration with Nigerians doing great at the ‘mock’ Olympics held in India, and then shame and embarrassment when a couple of them were stripped of their medals for testing positive to performance enhancing drugs.

Still on sports, Amos Adamu just had to be captured on camera negotiating/accepting a bribe; reminds me of the folk tale about the tortoise who kept stealing and one day fell into the trap set for him by the villagers and got his hands stuck to the items he was stealing.

In other news, Chidinma won MTN’s Project Fame, the 2nd season of GLO’s Naija Sings (pronounced Niger Sings for reasons I cannot fathom) is airing, Nigerian Idols is new and currently airing (with a great crop of judges if you asked me) and rumours have it that Zain’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics will be revived soon. That leaves us with Nigeria’s Got Talent, X (or N) Factor, and Making the Band to be adapted for our audience. Calling at Etisalat, Starcomms, Visaphone, Multilinks? NITEL? Oya show yourselves o!

Still on the bright side, our own Uti Nwachukwu won Big Brother Africa All Stars; and got the hefty sum of 200, 000 dollars for his troubles. Never mind that Mr. President (in his wisdom) congratulated Uti on his Facebook page, conveniently ignoring all the issues above (screaming for his attention); never mind that all of ‘us’ are uploading pictures we have with Uti even if it’s the ones we took with him when we were in diapers, never mind!

The very interesting thing for me about Uti’s win is that it showed me (and proved to some) that there’s nothing we cannot achieve if we come together, pool our resources (time, energy, ideas, and finances) and work towards it. Today, I’m calling/asking for your support, ideas, time and energy and I’ll tell you for what in a minute.

In January 2007 I watched the movie Akeelah and The Bee and apart from thoroughly enjoying the movie, I was amazed that I didn’t know a good number of words the kids were spelling (its ok if you felt that way too). That day I thought to myself, ‘if I (with the level and standard of education I’ve had) cannot spell those words, what is the hope of the indigent child in a Local Education Authority school who sits on the floor in an unroofed class, doesn’t wear socks, is taught English in vernacular, and is rushing home to go hawk wares for his parents every day after school? Truth is, they don’t stand a chance.

That day, I started writing what I am sharing with you now (fully aware of the risks of putting an idea out there). I need to do something, and because I am not in government, I will do what I can do, with your help. The plan is to give these kids two books to read every month (storybooks/novels) commensurate to their ages and current knowledge level. On the last Saturday of every month, we meet with the kids, discuss what they’ve read, go over difficult words, lessons learnt (if any), etc. More importantly we will play (till we sweat), eat (a lot), and generally do things that kids love to do.

Long term plan of this will be to get corporate organizations, families, individuals (anyone who can) to pick kids from the club and sponsor them up to tertiary level but with a catch: tuition is only paid to the schools even though a stipend will/might be given and the child stands to forfeit the sponsorship if their grades drop below a certain level at any time or if they get on the wrong side of the law.

The aim is to give these kids a start by improving their word power, occupy their time positively, and expose them to worthy role models (you and me, the volunteers).

Three years and loads of notes later, this dream is still burning strong and that’s why I’m talking to you. I’m currently taking an enterprise course in my postgraduate class and using this dream as my project idea because I feel very passionate about it and because by putting it through rigorous testing here, I can research and find the best way to run this.

The first part of that research is what I’ve done now; put the idea out for you to sample. What is the first step? Who do we need to talk to, where should this start from? What are the strengths and opportunities, weaknesses and threats with this idea? What stumbling blocks do you already see? Where do we source volunteers? Would you volunteer for this project? Who can we collaborate with? Who’s already doing something like this?

TBAM – Let’s do this together

Where do we find the books? What part of the country should we start from? Will cultures and religions influence/affect this in any way?

To sum it up, what say ye?

P: S – the rights of this author are reserved.

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Comments
  1. carmenmccain says:

    A brilliant idea. I’ve passed your link on to an academic I know who is interested in children’s literacy and developing children’s books in English. And, of course, while literacy in English is important for long term success in Nigeria, it might also be important to think about Nigerian-language literacy. There is some research (though debated) that shows that children do better over all if they receive their initial education in their own language before moving to English in secondary school, so learning to read well and having materials to read in their own language might be important too.

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  2. ifreke says:

    And they’ll say am the tatafo! See how much info you have in this piece! Chai! Am envious ooo

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  3. Chris says:

    I believe this is easily doable, especially if it starts small. You can get a team together and it would be easy to get books from personal libraries. We all can chip in to buy books that can’t be sourced. This will cost a lot less per person than a bottle of Vodka at Swe. Come up with a plan that identifies the targeted age groups, possible locations and the kinds of books needed; we can all chip in from there. Count me in.

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  4. Anino says:

    Considering only yesterday i was telling myself off for not having read a decent book this year, this is basically moving me of my black behind.

    This is a long term resolve and I think yes. I mean I dont hide it, I am smart and street savvy but I am not university educated and most of my knowledge has been acquired by reading.
    So yes. lets give some young child out there an opportunity to be a better person.

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  5. francis says:

    u have a brilliant idea. This your idea will require a comprehensive plan and discipline for it to be achieve. The kind of project is supposed to start from primary school in other to achieve a desired result. In other to get to the desire target, u need to talk the head of ministry of education the target local Governments, states or region. Also community leaders should be carried along. Since we know that this kind of project cannot be achieve by a person, there is the recruitment of volunteers from especially NYSC members(member of MDGs community development service group: they are well spread over the country) and other volunteers. The is also a need to collaborate with NGOs within a target location(s). Another important issue to be considered is funding, because without proper funding this project may not be achieved(this may be the major challenge). One way u can reduce expenditure is through collaboration and that we can discuss later. Finally, i will like to be part of is project if i am given the opportunity. you can me through phone No +2348032635253 or my email address ibefrank2002@yahoo.com

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  6. an idea is a seed that needs watering else it will only exist in the land of dreams. you have taken the first step. the truth is people are idealistic but the reality is how many will be willing to part with money which we are quick to call hard-earned to support this project? food for thought it is though.

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  7. Egghead says:

    Good one. Early thoughts: U did not state the demography of your target group(s). That will be important in the choice & number of materials to be assigned. I did not see how ur preface in this prose connects, at least strategically, to the proposed project at the end of the presentation. What is more, u need to develop this idea (or thoughts) into a “concept paper” which will outline a preface, problem statement, broad objective, strategic objectives, target groups, expected outcomes, output of the project etc. There are a number of non-profit and corporate organization which should be interested in this educational initiative. U know that I now also work with Government? {smile}

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  8. Leslie says:

    What an interesting piece! well not just because it’s written by an excellent writer but the sheer timeliness, not to mention insightful but I digress.

    When I read a post like this I measure it against the intent as I have come to be very sceptic of things I read these days lest I raise my hopes unnecessarily , call it pessimism. If you look at the size of the country ( not that it has squat to do with the brains in it) and the level of development we hoped to have achieved by now, you would be forgiven to think the idea in this post to be anachronistic!

    As a growing up kid in the early 80′s it was cool to read! I remember that as early as primary 3 we were already exposed to the wonderful art of reading. Unlocking all those hidden treasures between the lines in our favorite english text was a joy we all looked forward. It all started with the english primers, and then to the Evans readers and then Macmillan from where we proceeded to the African writers series, how can we forget the “Pacesetters”. That was the culture then, it was post war Nigeria, post-oil boom, books were given away freely and basic reading and writing was a sine-qua non for basic literacy. All those glorious writers and poets in Nigeria, Mabel Segun, Ola Rotimi, Kunle Omotoso, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Elechi Amadi, JP Clarke, Wole Soyinka-whose Nobel prize for literature inspired an era of budding poets and writers in the country, to mention a few. They shared with us their experiences, their stories , joys and sadness all cascaded in a wonderful kaleidoscope of words enriching our intellect and helping us to command the english language so powerfully as we expressed ourselves with pride. Mayor of Casterbridge, She stoops to Conquer, Lord of the Flies, Mine Boy, David Copperfield and how can I leave out Oliver Twist, were some of the foreign literatures that we were exposed to, which not only sharpened our minds but also allowed us to appreciate some of the contemporary issues of the time such as apartheid, as well as the way the “white man” conducted his affairs. Alas he was human after all we would joke in our young hearts. Then sadly, slowly but surely crept in an era of decadence, decay and wanton rot of the intellectual. Schools lost their use, teachers brayed the merits of material wealth over education and their students echoed that belief in their attitude. Learning was scorned and reading took a back seat. I woke up and found around me a bunch of young people who could not read to save their souls! I once jokingly called the author of this blog an illiterate (of course, she is anything but) based on the amount of books she had read! The dearth of reading culture in the country goes beyond motivation to read, this calls for an overhaul of the system. There needs to be a systemized behavioral change communication, intended to excite young minds, to change their attitude/ perception to reading. Kids must be taught the art of reading, social perception to books and education as a whole must change. This is not a war between the ideology of wealth over literacy, we exist in a social system that appreciates pluralism of orientation. So why not in this case?
    The change must start at the ward level, the drive must be wholesome and devoid of any ulterior motive save for the lone reason of educating the young mind. Time must be volunteered, teachers with a genuine love to impact knowledge must be cultivated from the mass of inglorious pedagogues that have pervaded our educational system and I’m only just scratching the top of the list…

    While I agree that a proper SWOT analysis must be done to kick start such a noble project. A proper study must precede the roll out to identify what the problem is ( a Needs/Gap analysis). The rot is deeper than it appears and an attempt to force a system down another system may result in certain regurgitation. The result of the study will lead the approach for a real solution. I suggest that whatever the outcome of the GAP analysis, a pilot phase of the program can be carried out in a few communities where we can measure the outcomes of the program- a sort of implementation research. Let’s not forget that the ultimate goal of such a project can only be measured in the long run.

    Of course some where down the line we must look for a salomonic solution to this “disease” we might as well start now.
    I support the TBAM initiative but I fear that we will need more than books to kick this off the ground and in that wise I can only wish you luck. If something, however is not done soon in the near future, then spelling bees will be the least of our worries, God save us then!

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  9. layefa says:

    I think is a good idea keep on the good work and nigeria will be a good place for all of us to live in.God will surely reward you for your good work in the country…God bless NIGERIA

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  10. Myne Whitman says:

    This is a great idea. Looking at Nigeria may be big now. Choose an accessible LEA with supportive officials and do a Needs Assessment.

    Do you know about the African Library Project?

    African Library Project: Changing Lives, Book by Book
    The African Library Project (ALP) was founded in 2005 by Chris Bradshaw to create small libraries in rural Africa, where books are extremely scarce. In just five years, the U.S.-based, grassroots organization has established 561 small libraries that serve over half a million children and adults in eight African countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Nigeria.

    The project began when Chris visited rural Lesotho on a family vacation in 2005. On a horseback tour of hillside villages, she saw hundreds of schoolchildren in classrooms – with no books whatsoever. Chris made an offer to local community leaders: if they provided space and staff for a library and gave free and equal access to all, she would send 1000 carefully selected books to stock the shelves. A few months later, the first ALP library was born!

    Chris realized that U.S. homes are filled with books that are no longer read…so let’s get them to people who really need them and will treasure them! ALP’s approach is to recruit volunteers to run book drives in U.S. schools, youth groups, and businesses. Each book drive collects 1000 gently used books and raises $500 to help pay for shipping the books. Fundraising is often creative, ranging from selling lemonade or cookies to putting on theatrical performances. The volunteers sort and pack the books, then label the boxes to arrive at a pre-selected African village. To keep costs low, ALP ships entire land-sea containers that hold 30-60 libraries (30,000 to 60,000 books) at a time.

    ALP has formed solid partnerships with a variety of African NGOs and government organizations. Each African partner organization specializes in library development or education and is large enough to develop and sustain 30-60 libraries per year. The African partner selects and vets local library projects, receives and distributes containers of books, and trains local teacher-librarians. Each local library project provides the space, staff, furniture and a library management committee. The committee turns the boxes of donated books into a sustainable library and ensures that the books circulate widely among the community’s readers.
    HIV/AIDS is a crippling problem in many African countries that get ALP libraries, so the African Library Project raises extra funds to donate HIV/AIDS books that are written specifically for African children. The books provide rural youth with accurate information about the cause and transmission of the virus, so they can act to protect themselves.

    The African Library Project has no paid staff. Its dedicated volunteers have already mobilized over 25,000 American youth and adults to collect, sort, pack and ship over 600,000 gently used books, valued at $6,000,000, to African rural schools and villages.

    ALP has sparked a social movement with volunteers from ages 8 to 80. This allows thousands of U.S. volunteers, mostly children, to make a concrete, personal difference for other children. Meanwhile, thousands of African children are learning and growing daily. Everybody wins as the African Library Project pursues its vision of “Changing Lives, Book by Book.”

    The African Library Project is a great fan of the Golden Baobab Prize for African children’s literature. They are proud to sponsor this year’s Rising Writer Award. For more info on how to organize a book drive so you can start a library in Africa, visit: http://www.africanlibraryproject.org

    *article culled from Goldenbaobab.org

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  11. tonye willams says:

    Great idea, very achievable,but we must start on a small scale and grow over time. You got my support whenever you ready to roll. books have been a source of great inspiration to me I probably wouldn’t do what I do if not for the influence books have had over me.
    looking forward to taking this off paper to actual action

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  12. Henry says:

    I will react to this piece from the point of view of the whole article….what these kids need goes beyond reading a book…
    I am a strong advocate of reading…but for these kids, they need more than that. Which is where hanging out with them, reading with them, and letting them see in us things that embody dignity…hardwork, and the possibility of being responsible and respectable without falling for yahoo-yahoo or cheating. We can donate glossy books, story books like the ones we read while growing up, but the best book they will read is us…these kids want role models…nothing beats reading a book your role model gave to you, nothing beats “that Aunty that is a banker gave me this book”….no book beats what our lives can read out to these kids….

    I digress…..

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  13. Vito says:

    Very nice idea! And the comments are very encouraging.

    Proper planning and articulation is needed to pull this off, and this is achievable especially in the short term.

    So why not start from a territory that you are familiar with, say Abuja? You got a good network of friends who can help [ even if it means bullying them into helping you - you know now?]. getting them to volunteer and contribute wont be that hard. You can collaborate with AWF, ALS, GAP and lola Shoneyin’s INFUSION. Afterward target one Oga’s state [I have read his comment here already] and move to the next state and then to the next.

    The education authorities in the local govt will be the first point of call if approvals are required, but you will need to decide if you want it based on school or community.

    A list of possible literature can be gotten from the Ministry of Education. I know for sure that companies will sponsor when they see something on ground that assures that their investment [CSR] will not be wasted.

    I like it that proper planning is needed, with proper SWOT analysis but i will say you should start with what you can get right now, make mistakes, correct it, learn the lesson and grow from there. Do not delay anymore.

    PS: Count me in, whatever book is chosen I’ll buy at least 10 copies for a start and will also volunteer within my time constraint [you understand that].

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  14. sokleva says:

    Beyond being an interesting read this is a very good idea funny thing is my partner and I been talking about starting a book club. And try and get our Colleagues in the entertainment to come out and read with kids. Will definitely love to be a part of this. Honestly most of the words I use today I learnt at an early age. Every other thing was just adding to that. The basics are very important and can’t be over emphasised. You have my support and I know this is the start of something Monumental. Mark my words.

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  15. Plumbline says:

    We have a fundamentally flawed system.

    Part of the thoughts you raised has been embarked upon recently by Farafina/Celebrity Reads project. They are taking Celebrities to schools now to encourage students to read.

    A big poser though: When a Musician that shows no level of intelligence (excuse my manners) stands before the student to read from his alleged favorite book, both he and the poor children know they are both lying through their teeth! so far, I can vouch for the ones that have been used so far, but I assure you, with the dearth of intelligence we have in this Country, the list would soon be exhausted.

    Another huge problem: Why would that student want to read when he/she keeps seeing people who win the very reality shows by doing ‘nothing’ ? If Uti, for instance had no education, he most likely won’t make BBA..but that average kid does not see that, he instead sees someone who sits in the house for 90 days and does ‘nothing’.. same problem with most of the Reality Shows.

    What is the popularity rating of Zain Challenge (the Quiz sponsored by Zain)? and Debaters (sponsored by GTB) ? these are issues that bother me.

    Now to the way forward. I am of the view that even if we don’t get to overhaul the system by ourselves, let it be on record that we were involved in dealing one of the sequence of blows that eventually brought it down.

    That said, a one-on-one mentoring, however tedious comes to play. Most of us that find ourselves on this page are the products of hard-working civil servants that made sure their children were brought up on the Ladybird Series…How do we make books available, cheap, interesting to read at the same time? these are the things we should look into. It goes beyond seeking to exploit the Pop Culture..I hope to come back on this

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    • A big thank you to all of you who came on the page, took the time to read, make your comments, express your reservations, say you’ll volunteer, even offer to buy us books! I must also thank everyone who retweeted the link http://fairygodsister.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/two-books-a-month-tbam/ and who have sent this to friends and people who can help, thank you very much. Let’s address your comments individually now…

      @ Jaiye, our system is indeed flawed, how else will you explain our educational institutions rotting away and the children of our ‘leaders’ studying in Ivy League schools?
      This is my way of contributing; I feel like I cannot sit back and do nothing. I am aware of the Farafina/Celebrity Reads project; however TBAM will focus more on everyday volunteers rather than celebrities (it’ll be great if they can help too but they are not the thrust of this work). That is so the kids don’t get carried away with people they see on television, or listen to on the radio.
      The more volunteers we have, the greater our chances with one on one mentorship and I’m happy you’ve agreed to volunteer at some point! Thank you so much!

      @ Sokleva, this sentence, ‘ Honestly most of the words I use today I learnt at an early age’ stood out for me and I’m sure it applies to most of the people who read this post. We need to help the young ones who don’t have that opportunity to at least, get to the bar. Thank you for pledging your support, we’ll definitely be needing it!

      @Stanley, your point about this work being school or community based is very helpful because that goes a long way in determining how this project will be run, will look into it. I am also thinking of starting in Abuja because of the reasons you mentioned and then slowly expand the scope of the work. The plan actually is to do a one month pilot, evaluate, make corrections, and then go back into the field. God bless you for your offer to buy books for us, and yes, I understand your schedule.

      @Henry, I agree with you absolutely! What kids in rural areas on Nigeria need today goes way beyond books! We will however start with books and grow as we go. A typical end of the month Saturday will include feedback from the kids on the book (either in written, oral, pictorial, musical or any other form they choose) to tell us that they actually read it. Then we’ll go over difficult words, parts they didn’t understand, lessons learnt, etc. There’ll be loads of snack breaks and energizers so we keep up the energy level. Then we’ll play games (physical and intellectual), watch a movie (or a cartoon), have lunch, and then close. Our volunteers during this time will work with the kids individually to correct spellings, keep them in line, talk to and encourage the ones who are doing badly, and run on the spot tutorials (tells you the kind of volunteers we will have). We won’t be perfect, but we’ll do our best to give them the best! And yes, thanks for your support, I am grateful.

      @ Tonye, yes dear we’ll start small. How many kids do you think we should start with? Thanks for your support!

      @Myne, you are indeed a blessing! I was not aware of the African Library Project but I’ll shoot them an email and we’ll take it from there. And of course we’ll start small, the whole Nigeria ke?

      @ Layefa, thank you for your support, God bless Nigeria!

      @ Leslie, thank you for all the points you raised. A lot of research has, and will go into this project to ensure it is sustained because like you said we will only see the effects/benefits in the long term. Thank you for your help, I trust you will be available to help once we call!
      And I am not an illiterate! Lol

      @Egghead, I didn’t include demographics in this because I wanted to sample opinions with this initial piece. That said, I am working on a concept paper, you’ll get it as soon as I’m done! And yes oh, one right-minded young person in government, many more to go!

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    • Still on the replies,

      @Femi, I am totally aware of the reluctance people have to getting off their computers and mobiles to actually do something about things they say they believe in; I just believe that set will be a lot less than the people who will go all out for it, and that includes you! Thank you……

      @Francis, thank you for your suggestions. About the NYSC, we will approach the leadership in due course but I’m sure you understand the bureaucracy involved; I’d rather we worked with everyday people (you and me) in this early stage. A volunteer will have a certain level of passion for them to be committed so again, we won’t force it on anyone. I’ve taken your details, we’ll be in touch!

      @Anino, ‘most of my knowledge has been acquired by reading’; again that rings true for most of us! Thank you for your support, and for retweeting!

      @Chris, thank you so much, I’ve counted you in! And yes, where we cannot source, we will task ourselves/raise funds to buy. I love your spirit!

      @Ifreke, I’m the Fairy GodSister, it would be odd if I didn’t have info. Thanks for the retweets, and for introducing me (and this project) to the people you did!

      @Carmen, thank you so much. I agree that we must educate our children in our native languages, that’s very important. It is however a problem when a secondary school leaver cannot string a correct sentence together, and that’s the kind of education children not in private, Montessori, excruciatingly expensive schools are getting. Those are the ones this project will target.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you! Again, any suggestion, criticism, or comment is welcome!

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  16. Emeka Ikenze says:

    I love the way my interest was held until the main single point (grassroots academic empowerment) was unveiled. Great stuff!

    A wise man once said ” whatever you make your basket is what people will take it to be”. Make it a dirt basket and everyone will drop dirt in as they go by, make it a clothes basket, make it a food basket….. and it will be treated as such. I am referring to the basket “Education and literacy in Nigeria”.

    Literacy level is at its lowest ebb in Nigeria today..children have other beliefs now which they think make them more relevant in the society. Warped beliefs i must say, but fuelled by “sights and sounds” of the society they find themselves in.

    The effect of the project TBAM is one that if well handled, one day, later in life when we sit in front of our local fireplaces adorned with our own fair share of grey hair will allow us nod in approval amongst ourselves and say to each other ” well done” in approval of what i perceive will be the outcome.

    May that fire never die in the “fairy Godsister”. I look forward to when i can contribute in my own capacity, i am still interested in my country’s growth.

    Go Fairy GodSister! Go TBAM!!!

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  17. the fairygodsister speaks. gbam!!! i have no choice but to tag along. i hear you o sister. all i can say is that henry and plumbline speak my mind on this situation but i am very open to any avenue that will ease the journey ahead.

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  18. Felix says:

    Chioms,

    I know the power of books…and am a witness you know…cos I was born an original village bobo and did my primary and secondary school in my village and never stepped out of Imo state until I was 18 when I left 4d university. I never knew what the books did to me until I began to interact with guys and babes who grew up in the cities and went to ivy schools etc. We competed well in class that many doubted the fact that I schooled in my community secondary school…and one variable that possibly refined and reformed me was BOOKS.
    In primary 3, my uneducated mom bought me a lamp which I used to read at night b4 sleeping…and I caught the bug and my most treasured possessions today are books…and because I read books and newspapers a lot then, I did well in class…and even when mama had no money to pay my school fees, some relatives stretched themselves to do that cos they just couldnt bear to watch me drop out of school when they saw me always buried in my books.
    …and i am not ashamed to say I may not have stepped into a university when I did if not that a relative gave me a scholarship…and I got my masters 10 yrs ago courtesy of such help…
    So I admire your dream and u have people u can partner with….

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  19. eziaha says:

    Nobel idea hun! Kip d dream alive.
    How is school goin?
    And m with chris on the start small bit…
    Tz amazing all d naija news u v…

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  20. I work with a computer program that allows kids and adults to write their own books and share them on-line and in print. Other users can print copies of the books from the on-line site as well, making distribution easy and local.

    We were using this in the United States to get books into kids hands in a similar manner on the Indian Reservations in the SW. Give me a yell if this sounds like a way you would like to proceed.

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  21. Katrina says:

    Great idea! Is it necessary for tuition and a stipend, though? After school book clubs are quite common in may western countries, and the only start-up capital required is for the books themselves (or a good library). If the stories are interesting and relevant enough, and if the “reading buddy” is friendly and engaging enough, there need not be any additional incentive. If the program expands into Jos, please let me know!

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  22. nenge says:

    Lovely idea, I put up a silmilar idea during NYSC in abuja when I saw and heard the grammar coming from the students in the school beside the NYSC office at zone 3. However bureaucracy killed it before it started off, recently trying to kick start the initiative again, one school at a time. It would be nice to swap ideas or help. And if you are ever in abuja, let me know.

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  23. More responses, thanks a lot! Again, let’s respond to them one after the other:
    @Nenge, I understand about NYSC bureaucracy and how frustrating they get; I can’t tell you how many ideas of ours they turned down! I’m in Abuja in a couple of days (for a totally unrelated reason) but it would be nice to sit and have an initial chat!

    @Katrina, tuition and a stipend (the way I imagined it) would ease (not completely take away) the burden on the parents of these children who obviously cannot afford it. I must also mention that apart from the books themselves, a major challenge we’ll face is space for the books! All arrows are pointing towards villages in Abuja for the pilot but once we get to Jos (because in time we intend to go everywhere), you’ll be the first to know. Thank you!

    @searchingforagrainofsanity, I like your name! Seriously! And while finding computers to run the beautiful idea/program you’ve brought will bring a fresh challenge, who says we can’t get someone to give us computers for next to nothing? Especially since it complements an idea another respondent gave about making the kids tell their own stories too (on paper though) with the help of the ‘reading buddy’! Of course I’ll be in touch!

    @Eziaha, thanks a lot! And thanks for all the words of encouragement you’ve given since we met again!

    @Felix, again you lend credence to what a lot of other people have said here; we are what we are by the grace of God, and by the books we read as kids. That’s why I feel this strongly about giving kids who otherwise would not be exposed to this an opportunity. Thank you for your support!

    @Femi, thank you again! It’s up to all of us to brainstorm and find ways to ease the workload and still be extra efficient with the task.

    @Emeka, you’re one of the first people I bugged with this dream way back in 2007; I’m happy that you are still as excited by it! Thank you!

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  24. Odun says:

    Great idea! I’m currently involved in something similar here in the States known as WITS power lunch program. Students in my school volunteer to read with kids once a week during lunch hour. A bus picks up to a school in a poor neighbourhood and we read storybooks with our reading buddies, help them with new words etc and I’ve been thinking its something I’d like to do when I get back to Nigeria. I’m impressed you are thinking of doing something along those lines already. KUDOS!

    And you write well, first time I’ll read your write-up.

    Like

    • Thank you Odun! The more people the merrier, plus it’ll make for an amazing brainstorming session when we all meet finally! That said, what you’re doing (picking the kids and all) is exactly the way I see this idea playing out because that way we eliminate the dangers associated with kids leaving school and class to come meet us. Secondly it takes away one more obstacle from their parents because we pick, train, feed and drop their kids, at no cost whatsoever to them!
      I’m also grateful you enjoyed the chronicle, that was my humble aim!

      Like

  25. TOSINO says:

    This is a loudable project/idea. I love your passion which is the most important in any venture. Keep it Up. I wont mind bein a part of this project.

    Like

  26. [...] Comments fairygodsister on TWO BOOKS A MONTH (TBAM)Odun on TWO BOOKS A MONTH (TBAM)fairygodsister on TWO BOOKS A MONTH (TBAM)nenge on TWO [...]

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  27. Chioma, GBAM! This is great! Moving forward and giving a few answers to your questions, I think one of the first steps is to develop a concept paper for this idea, then see how you can start a small club that will eventually morph into some sort of NGO cos this is one project you need a sound working structure to effectively execute. Donors hardly part with their funds if you don’t have such necessary structures. Having put such structures in place, then you may start reaching out to all potential donor organisations and individuals. This looks like one vision corporate organisations like Cadbury, Indomie, Cowbell and such other child-friendly brands would love to support. I also understand that there are currently projects like CelebrityReads and Fela Durotoye is doing something about raising academic standards among our schoolchildren with his ProjectRAISE. I am also aware Ofunneka Molokwu is doing something similar in this direction. You may need to reach out to these people to form a synergy of purpose. I tell you the opportunities look fantastic especially when you can harness this using the power of pop culture. Attention span is so low among our youths these days, so if you want to get their attention especially to reading, they you’ve got to package this to look really interesting…pop culture comes in! One of the challenges you may face is getting the anticipated support. Increasingly, we are living in a society that is fast disconnecting from intellectual pursuits. That’s why the corporate bodies would rather spend 1 million dollars to get a Beyonce to Nigeria to shake her bum for just 45 seconds! These are some of the challenges you may face, so at the end of the day, it boils down to how you package and sell this idea. I am not in doubt that you will get volunteers. People will come along with you as soon as they can see that you are serious. There are millions of Nigerian youths out there waiting to be engaged with a project like this. Count me in as one of them. Count in BLING as a potential partner cos we also have a project aimed at reviving the culture of reading among secondary school students using celebrities. You may want to start this project in a place like Lagos. It’s an intellectually lucrative atmosphere to nurture a project like this from where you can now proceed to other places using your success stories from Lagos to reach the rest of Nigeria. Anything successful in Lagos is bound to fly anywhere else. I don’t see culture and religion standing in your way though I will caution that you properly understudy the psychodynamic of the communities you are targeting before reaching out to them. Fairy God Sister, I wish you Godspeed!

    Like

  28. Endi says:

    I almost ran off to start this but i had to pause as they were so many questions in need of answers. Beside I might be usurping someone’s ideas. But such was the excitement… I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but not as proposed by you. I think this presents a chance for self rediscovery. You can mail me if you need footwalk, or whatever.

    Like

  29. Yimina says:

    Did you meet already? I really want to be a part of this. Got a few ideas but I suck at posting lengthy comments so please get in touch. I’m very excited!

    Like

  30. Steve Hornstein says:

    I am heading to Nigeria in July/ August to work with teachers and students. I do electronic and paper book publishing with children. Is there a way I can help?

    Steve in Minnesota

    Like

  31. Yimina says:

    I meant have you organised a meeting with all the people who are willing to get involved? If you have then I’m sad to have missed it. If not pls let me know if/when you’re planning a face to face. I think it’ll be more productive than blog comments if you want to get this off the ground.

    Like

    • Thank you dear, for the gentle nudge. However, I mentioned in the initial blog post that it was what it was, a tester, something for people to sample and feedback on. I haven’t yet organized a meeting because according to the calendar for this project, it doesn’t take off for the next 36months. I’m starting the research and discussion now because the more thorough it is, the more far-reaching the impact will be. I could shoot you an email though, I’m excited with your interest in it! Thank you!!!

      Like

  32. [...] TWO BOOKS A MONTH (TBAM) October 2010 37 comments and 1 Like on WordPress.com, 3 [...]

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  33. [...] Erm what else did I do today? Yes, I exchanged some stuff I got for my brother (for the third time), and then went to volunteer my time (AND ENERGY) with a charity called Read International. There’s nothing like the fulfillment from knowing you’ve done stuff that in the long run will have a positive impact on people less fortunate than you are. Plus it’s great experience that’ll profit TBAM. [...]

    Like

  34. [...] My vision for myself is centred on the dissemination of information to people who would normally not have access to that information, and also to tell others about these people whose voices would hitherto have not been heard. To that effect, my 10 year plan is to first have a syndicated radio and television programme where stories of the lives of ordinary Nigerians are told. The second part is to have run an organization called TBAM (Two Books a Month) which is dedicated to running a book club for disadvantaged children. Full information about TBAM can be found here http://fairygodsister.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/two-books-a-month-tbam/. [...]

    Like

  35. [...] My vision for myself is centred on the dissemination of information to people who would normally not have access to that information, and also to tell others about these people whose voices would hitherto have not been heard. To that effect, my 10 year plan is to first have a syndicated radio and television programme where stories of the lives of ordinary Nigerians are told. The second part is to have run an organization called TBAM (Two Books a Month) which is dedicated to running a book club for disadvantaged children. Full information about TBAM can be found here http://fairygodsister.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/two-books-a-month-tbam/. [...]

    Like

  36. Is it underway already? Has it started? What can one like me do?

    Like

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