In August of this year, we started a non-profit organization called Community Based Development Partners, Inc. (CBDP). The goal of this organization is to support communities by developing and improving healthcare access and education in Nigeria. We launched our pilot program in Omu-Aran, Nigeria in September and, with your support, we were able to reach more than 2000 people through our two-day healthcare outreach program and talk to more than 200 students in all seven public high schools in Omu-Aran during our “Career Day” event. This pilot program was our organization’s first ever event and we were surprised at how enormous the need is in the Omu-Aran community.
So why were we surprised? The two founders of CBDP left Nigeria two decades ago. While we have visited often and kept up with friends and family over the years, it is difficult to fully understand the extent of the need on the ground and to appreciate how badly the institutions in the country have deteriorated. A series of events led us to think of setting up CBDP around healthcare and health:
- Over the years, we have lost relatives and friends living in Nigeria to preventable and manageable illnesses. This sensitized us to the need for expanded access to preventive care and management of chronic illnesses.
- The education system has greatly deteriorated due in large part to:
a. Deterioration of facilities and low teacher morale, especially in the public-school system. Over the past two decades, there has been an influx of private schools attempting to plug the holes created by this dislocation in the public-school system. This has led to a de facto segregation in the school system, with poor children left at the mercy of ever-declining public schools while more affluent children attend private schools of varying quality. In the rural areas especially, public secondary schools are typically the only viable options for most children. These schools, including all seven we are working with in Omu-Aran, are ridden with poor facilities. For example, statistics from the United Nations on Nigeria showed that 65% of the public primary (elementary) and junior secondary (Grades 7-9) schools in the country lack electricity.
b. A lack of mentoring and appropriate role models. Growing up in Nigeria, there were so many examples of hard working and successful people that we admired. We saw many examples of people that were good at what they do and rewarded for it. This served as motivation for us growing up. Much has been written about the growing level of decadence in the country and we have observed a growing disconnect between hard work and success. With increasing levels of corruption, poverty and unemployment, it is important to reinforce for the youth the importance of a great education, as they are inundated daily with images and stories of people who achieved “success” through nefarious activity and not through productive enterprise.
So how do we solve these problems? We, like many Nigerians, have talked a lot about the inefficiencies of the government and the country’s institutions. We eventually decided to move from just talking to doing. We set up CBDP as a vehicle through which we can contribute our expertise and resource, aggregated with those of others such as yourself, to start solving some of these problems.
The Pilot Program
Thanks to the generosity of our friends all over the world, we were able to launch our pilot program, which provided us an avenue to learn about our process and most importantly the people that we plan to reach and impact through our outreach efforts.
We would like to share two stories with you from our pilot program:
- An 11-year-old boy who had been suffering from sickle cell disease all his life was formally diagnosed with the disease for the first time during our medical outreach. This is a condition that should have been identified much earlier in this boy’s life, but a combination of an unstable family situation and abject poverty meant that he lacked access to the medical care he needed, leaving him to suffer all his life from a manageable condition. We had him immediately transferred to the General Hospital and paid for him to receive blood transfusion and other treatment and follow-up care.
- Eighteen students at Senior Secondary School One level (equivalent of the 10th grade in the United States) were awarded scholarships through our Omu-Aran Scholars Program. The Scholars Program awards these students annual tuition scholarships for each of their last three years of secondary school. To qualify, the students went through a rigorous entrance exam and we were very impressed with their performance on the test. This is encouraging and we hope to do even more in the coming years.
As we plan for next year’s activities we would like to draw your attention to some of the projects we have in mind and that we hope you will help support:
- Increased support to the public schools: None of the seven schools we are working with has a functional library. We would like to set up a library in each school that is equipped with books, computers loaded with educational software, and other learning materials. Also, all seven schools are in various stages of disrepair and need a lot of work, including, among others: (i) improving road access to the schools; (ii) equipping the laboratories; and (iii) providing effective and efficient learning aids.
- Increased access to healthcare services: Our vision center was overwhelmed by the demand during our outreach. We plan to sponsor periodic “drives” through the General Hospital to provide free vision tests and glasses to indigent members of the community. We were also approached after the outreach by an amputee in need of prosthetics that we could not support. We would like to help him and others like him in the community and ultimately develop a database for indigent households with needs we can support. We would also like to support the General Hospital’s antenatal program.
To learn more about our programs and our organization, please visit our website (www.cbdpartners.org) and sign up for our newsletter. You may also make donations through our website at any time.
Director and Co-Founder
Director and Co-Founder