Saturday, April 6, 2013

Field Trip To Ilorin

Last week I went on a field trip to Kwara State to visit my colleague. She is a the volunteer management and training adviser for the NGVP Program through the Kwara Ministry of Education whereas I work in the same position but remotely for the NGVP program running through KSSSSMB in Kano.

She was hosting a training for NGVP volunteers on project management and I was invited to observe, contribute and meet the volunteers involved in the project. The volunteers in Kwara were working on proposals for small grants and needed some guidance on proposal writing.

The Ministry of Education
NGVP volunteers are sent to schools to support teachers, build capacity and ultimately help to improve the quality of education in the schools they work. They can also apply for small grant funding from VSO for support. One group of volunteers applied for funding to purchase computers for the schools they work in. Another for setting up a library. Another to host a soap making workshop, a skill that could help generate income for the workshop participants. Most of the projects were well thought out as far as sustainability and logistics were concerned but lacked explanation and left too many questions unanswered for the funders. That means VSO.

Bat Migration
mmm Mango season
Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara state, was where I was staying with volunteers that had been placed with ESSPIN. They're provided with a pretty sweet house! Air conditioning, a huge generator, washing and drying machines, flat screen TVs and even hot showers!!! What luxurious treatment I was given in Ilorin!! I was most excited watching the huge migration of bats from the balcony as they confetti-ed the sky in their nightly migration for food, the massive thunderstorm that I watched from the same balcony, inching further inside at about the same speed the storm progressed, a full moon-lit bike ride to Kwara Hotel and joking with the guards about protecting my friend's bicycle, the mango tree branches bending with the weight of countless green mangoes swelling to ripeness. . .
The trip home was also amazingly beautiful, for me. Forest covered hills, mist rising from valleys (though there weren't really mountains, just hills) all against that rust-red dirt.

When the bus stopped at the half way point for food, I met a guy who had recognized me from the Ilorin Shop-Rite. --In fact, I was lost in the Shop-Rite. Not lost like I didn't know where I was going, lost more like that song by The Clash. I feel lost in big box stores anywhere. They make me uneasy. . .it makes me even more uneasy to see the number of people that flock to them everywhere. But I also wonder if the rise of big box stores in the global south will mean the rise of small farmers markets in the global north. . .?--
Wuse Market in Abuja
Mr. Shop-Rite was going to Abuja too. I expressed my preference for Ilorin. He, who had grown up there, preferred Abuja.
That is the way, isn't it. People from cities preferring rural areas. People from rural areas preferring cities. . .there always seems to be a longing for that which is unknown. . .it's a rare occurrence to find someone that is completely content with exactly what they have.

It was really interesting to travel to Kwara and get some first hand experience of the NGVP program.

Ogadi's Egusi Soup! Yummy
The trainings in Nasarawa and Kwara and then reading past notes from the volunteer that established this project has helped me get a better grasp on what exactly my job entails. So has asking a bajillion questions to my project manager in the VSO office (who has been very patient, repeating the same things over and over). So I'm starting to understand. . .but being so far away from my project and volunteers in Kano makes it difficult to know the specific challenges that volunteers and partners are faced with there and how best I can support them.

But for now, in my little apartment in Abuja, with my little Aloe Vera plant, unfolding volunteer placement and the wonderful, Ogadi. . .I have nothing to complain about :)
(except the power cuts and the rat that infiltrated the kitchen while I was away. . .!)


AfriBats said...

Would you add your bat photo as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:

AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

Many thanks!

PS: these are straw-coloured fruit bats (Eidolon helvum)

Clueless Wonder said...

Yes, absolutely! Happy to be a tiny part of the project:

AfriBats said...

Many thanks for accepting the invitation, much appreciated!