Umaima Adamu Mati from Gamawa LGA of Bauchi State is one year-old when she lost her father, Alhaji Adamu Mati, a business man. The demise of her father created a huge vacuum in the family— the burden of educating her and five other siblings were left in the hands of her mother, who was at the time without any business or hand work to lean on, only to the mercy philanthropists.
The dilemma of what business to start in order to shoulder the responsibilities bequeathed to her, particular feeding and educating the children became a horrible nightmare for Amina Adamu, Umaima’s mother.
Amina had to marry off her two eldest daughters “in order to reduce the burden on me, because at that time (referring to the time her husband died), I can’t feed the six of them, talk less of sponsoring them to continue with their education” she said.
What remains a better option for her was to send them packing to their husbands’ houses “leaving behind four of their siblings —Abubakar Adamu who is currently running a diploma programme at the College of Agriculture, Bauchi, Saidu Adamu who is now in SS3, Yakubu Adamu who is in JSS 2 and Umaima” Amina added.
Umaima, whom the mother could not afford to send to school—a sign that she might likely be married off like her eldest sisters, was admitted in to a Non-Formal Learning Centre established by Community Initiative for the Promotion of Health and Education Sector, (CIPHRES), a local NGO that supports out of school children in Gamawa LGA.
The orphan started learning literacy, numeracy and life skills—the three areas of interest taught at the 40 learning centres managed by the NGO.
In order to bolster learning activities at the centres that houses 45 learners each, CIPRHES staged a quiz competition in all the 40 centres. Umaima defeated her peers at the centre-level—qualifying her to compete at the second stage with other learners who emerged victorious in their respective centres.
The competition went on, and final victory befalls the orphan, who succeeded in downsizing all the 1,800 learners at the 40 centres scattered across different communities in the local government.
Umaima does not only emerge the best, her approach in answering questions during the competition became the topic of discussion among the judges. “She was prudent, fast in thinking, and very articulate and calculative” says Kabiru Mohammad, one of the judges who organized the competition.
In another development, the second and third positions in the competition were also won by female learners, igniting happiness among women particularly members of the women group who allocated hefty gifts to the winners. “What we saw today in this gathering signal to all men that women can also compete favourably and defeat the so called men” said Hajiya Maria Mamman, Chairperson of the local government’s women group.
In a clime where educating female children is a little priority especially among less privileged families, “Umaima’s stride should inspire parents to brace up in educating their female children”, Maria Mamman added.
The secretary of the local government Community Coalition, Alhaji Babayo Kasuwa who is inspired by the performance of the orphan, challenged wealthy individuals in the state to support orphans get better education, arguing that it spells doom for any society that neglects its vulnerable and orphaned children.
Excited by the tone of events and the successes recorded, the Executive Director, CIPRHES, Ibrahim Ladan Wunti reiterated the commitment of the organization in educating vulnerable and out of school children. “It has always been the plight of CIPRHES to help the less privileged, we will continue to do so despite the meagre amount of resources we have. “The result of the competition shows that we are succeeding in impacting the lives of these neglected children, and we particularly thank USAID through the NEI-Plus project who are supporting us in educating these children”, Mr. Ladan asserted.
He said CIPRHES will remain focused and shall partner individuals and philanthropists in executing developmental projects that will impact positively across different communities in the north east of Nigeria.
The participants bagged different prices donated by CIPRHES, Gamawa local government area Organizer, Alhaji Aliyu Mustapha Umar, members of the LGA women group and community coalition among others.
Haruna Mohammed Salisu files in this piece from Bauchi.