How passion for community development motivated me to renovate Kogi school's classrooms, ex-corps member

How passion for community development motivated me to renovate Kogi school's classrooms, ex-corps member

For Sunday Iheoma, humanity and community service comes first above other things, and this was courageously demonstrated during her mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) spell in Kogi state where she —and her corps member friends —renovated dilapidated classrooms.

The Abia state-born spoke exclusively with on the project days after this publication ran her story.

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1.Can we meet you?

My name is Iheoma Sunday. I am from a family of six made up of my parents, Mr and Mrs Uche Sunday and siblings. I am the eldest of 2 girls and a boy (Ogechi Sunday, Joy Sunday and Favour Sunday).

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I am a proud native of Ngwugwo town of Ikwuano local government area of Abia state and I currently reside in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. I am an Alumni of the Abia State University. I studied Animal and Environmental Biology/Zoology.

2. You served in Kogi state as an NYSC corps member. What motivated you into such a money-gulping project -- and how did you get finance for it?

To start with, it was never my intention to serve at Kogi state as I never selected it during my NYSC registration in 2019. But I recall clearly the day I checked my dashboard for NYSC notification on deployment and found "Kogi" as my state of deployment, honestly, I was really surprised because I never selected it. Then, I began to realize that my posting to the state was not humanly, but divine.

Motivated me to buld school Kogi ex-corper who build schools for students
Sunday Iheoma and her friends renovated classrooms in Kogi state during their NYSC days. Credit: Sunday Iheoma (Linkedln)
Source: UGC

I was posted to a school in Lokoja and joined a place I would always call home, the Nigerian Christian Corpers Fellowship (NCCF). I became the sisters' coordinator/welfare secretary and truthfully speaking this position engendered greater burdens in my heart, not for the welfare of the corps' members alone but of the underserved communities within my vicinity. Right from my childhood, I knew there were so many challenges in Nigeria that would require extra efforts of individuals to be solved, not the government alone.

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This was my resolution before the service. I wanted to walk into the reality of my thoughts. I appreciate these wonderful personalities: Jesutofunmi Oludu, Abayomi Fajuyitan, Tonna Amazu, and Raymond Udeani. After I spoke to them concerning my thoughts for community service, they supported me selflessly and immensely during my community scouting for challenges and problems. Shockingly, we came across this community that complained bitterly about the lack of edible water and their dilapidated school structure. I was heartbroken to hear and see this and was challenged to see that either of them was solved.

I made some findings about the water project before school because I know how important it is to have clean and safe water. It turned out that the water project was much more expensive than the school renovation and as much as I wanted them to drink clean water to be healthy, I had to settle for the school project understanding the value of education. I understood that when the kids in the community are properly educated then developments beyond a bore-hole construction will surely take place. Civilization resides were education is found.

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Honestly, I never knew how to commence the classroom renovation but I consulted friends and tried to get advice. A wonderful friend of mine, Adekemi Adefisayo, advised that undertaking such a task alone (considering the time and cost) could be overwhelming, and there will be a need for partnership with equally passionate corps' members if the task was going to get done within a short time frame.

Another friend, Toyosi Olatayo also encouraged me to go ahead with the call for partnership. I then sought for partnership and I found colleagues who were corps' members, who were interested, equally passionate and challenged towards the condition of the local school. These were some of the best sets of personalities I met during service: Babalola Benjamin Ayodipupo, Kelechi Ogonda, and Enoghayin Andress. I celebrate their tenacity, effort, resilience and intelligence. I consider it honourable to identify with them nonetheless and I pray for them, strength. Honestly, without our numerous meetings, prayers, and strategies, having the privilege of being on this platform might have been impossible. I love and celebrate them! We agreed to raise awareness and renovate a classroom each because there were four classrooms. The four of us kicked off by analyzing and making individual budgets even as we worked closely to ensure our individual classrooms were in better states than we met them. We proceeded to write our proposals each to NYSC which was approved before executing the work on our individual classrooms.

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Beyond our individual effort, I celebrate our team spirit. Honestly, each of us encountered challenges but I am really glad that we finished stronger. Kelechi and Andress received a Certificate/Letter of Commendation from NYSC, while Benjamin Babalola received Honour's Award for this and other numerous projects he carried out in Kogi state. As for the finances, fellow corps' members especially from NCCF Kogi, staffs from the Kogi ministry of education and health, from my place of primary assignment, from family and friends that responded via the e-flier contributed immensely.

To be honest, a colossal portion of the finance for my classroom renovation came from my savings. I even had to sacrifice my NYSC monthly allowance because I knew what was at stake for the kids. We had corps members too who helped us to paint the classrooms without taking a dime from us.

3. What is the feeling like after putting a smile on students' face with the community project?

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I can say resoundingly that it was fulfilling. As much as we had supporters, I also met people who tried to discourage us, telling us that the work belongs to the government. Painfully, when I was acquainted with the local school by the community youths, I got to know it had been in that condition for over 5 years and no one had done anything until we did. We just wanted to see that the school would be in a better state for learning without having to fear rain or sunshine or even being stuffed as it were in their other building to learn.

I personally would have loved to do more like getting them more desks and new school wears but we were limited. Personally, I am deeply passionate about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, 4, and 9 (zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, and industry innovations and infrastructure) respectively.

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I am really glad this project is able to achieve goals 4 and 9. My philosophy on the aforementioned goals is that if effectively attended to, even the SDG1, no poverty, will be achieved effortlessly. Really, at this point, I have come to understand that there is no challenge that is insurmountable, and I am confident in taking roles in project management as I am currently open to them.

4. Did the state of NYSC authority see, commend the project; were you given an award or letter of recommendation?

The NYSC authority saw the project. They commissioned and commended it. I was given a certificate/letter of commendation also.

5. You're into public health project and voluntary service. Tell us about the journey so far?

It all started in 2019 when I volunteered for a community-based organization in a funded project for people living with HIV/AIDS, for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), and Gender/Adolescent Girls to achieve important targets in medical coverage, health/wellbeing support, and prevention of discrimination in vulnerable groups, amongst others.

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This helped me to gain experience in data collection, collation, validation, and dissemination, with strong interpersonal communication skills, community involvements, and use of management information system (MIS)tools.

Currently, I am volunteering with two organizations that are focused on health and health-related programs. I am also working as a part-time virtual project assistant.

6. Now after your service, what is your plan for the future?

For my short term plans, at the moment I am building every capacity needed to manage more development projects and programs that will impact host communities and society. I am also looking forward to working with organizations that are in need of my expertise, where I can bring value to their table.

I am also looking out for a scholarship opportunity to do my masters. For Long term plans; l see myself working with international organizations like the UNICEF, SAVE THE CHILDREN, WHO in the nearest future. I also look forward to establishing an NGO where we can intersect between Health, Education and Development.

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Rahaman Abiola is a result-oriented journalist and content writer with a firm grip of over 5-year corporate experience stranding diverse roles in digital & traditional media and social media communication.

A published literary writer, freelancer and public commentator, he has written over 100 essays covering diverse issues on economy, politics and current affairs, entertainment and leadership published in virtually all notable Nigerian national dailies and digital media in Nigeria.

He is a graduate of English Literature, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Follow him on Twitter via @ShugabanR.


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