After considerable deliberation and exploration with NIDPRODEV, we settled on the village of Oporoza as the ideal site for the Journey, since it is the heart of the Ijaw Gbaramatu Kingdom, with relatively more resources than other parts of the creeks in the Delta. Job, a dedicated NIDPRODEV member and teacher in the village, wanted a library to help his students better prepare for their futures and enable them to pass the qualifying exams for higher education opportunities. Oporoza village leaders believed the library will attract better funding for the school, hopefully leading the government to staff it with salaried teachers. All agreed to work to make the library available to neighboring communities (including other ethnic groups such as Itsekiri), providing vital learning resources for the entire region. The community, under the direction of the CDC (Community Development Committee) Chairman, provided local building materials, some funding, and managed the design and construction.
Building the Niger Delta Friendship Library
|Project Director Mary Ella Keblusek and Founding Director Susan Partnow made a pre-Journey trip to the Delta in August, when they visited Oporoza and presided over the ground-breaking ceremony. We wanted the construction of the library to be complete so we could commission it and witness its opening during the November delegation.|
In a country strewn with half finished, rotting projects, such completion seemed essential. We were thrilled to welcome dignitaries and residents from throughout the region at the commissioning — and with an amazing party of celebration hosted by the village all that night. (They brought in the Delta’s best known musician for all to enjoy.)
The U.S. delegation brought over 1500 donated books to get the library collection started. In addition, we purchased text books for Oporoza students in Nigeria. It costs just $250 for a complete set of books to take a student through Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary, a total of six years of schooling.
The management of the library is overseen by the Board of Trustees established: Joel Bisinia, our GCJ partner and NIDPRODEV founder, is the chair. Members consist of men and women from the village and from Warri, the major city in the region, including Itsekiri as well as Ijaw. They have raised the money for the librarian’s salary. The library is open daily and running relatively well. Ongoing funding continues to be a challenge.
Niger Delta Professionals for Development is a non-profit organization/NGO operating in Nigeria since 1999, focusing on conflict mediation, peace building, youth empowerment and gender rights issues in the Niger Delta. NIDPRODEV’s objectives are:
- To facilitate dialogue, strengthen co-existence and create a safe platform for difference and diversity amongst ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta region.
- To strengthen capacities of youth, women and community-based organizations in dealing with intra- and inter-personal conflicts in their organizations.
- To educate, inform and develop the human mind for creative thinking within the Niger Delta region.
- To create an enabling environment that promotes economic investment and developmental activities.
- To articulate and advocate for the rights of the people of the Niger Delta and beyond.
- To encourage and promote activities and programs that help to increase safe health practices and to advocate for gender rights and gender mainstreaming in institutions in the region.
NIDPRODEV, led by Founder and Regional Director Joel Bisina, has a dynamic track record of successful initiatives to meet the significant challenges of the Niger Delta. To learn more, download the NIDPRODEV brochure.
Nigeria 2005 host country volunteer staff
We are grateful for the “on-the-ground” expertise and invaluable assistance of our Nigerian colleagues, led by Joel Bisina, Nigeria 2005 Host Country Director.
- Ifeoma Olisakwe – Finance support
- Job Bebenimibo – Logistics support
- Dr. Elijah Ige Ohimain – Environmental issues
- Deborah Laju Edah – Inter-ethnic issues
- Fanty Goodness Wariyai – Logistics support
- Thankgod Seibi – Library construction
- Godwin Miebi – Logistics and school liaison
- Vero Smooth – Oporoza Village liaison and cultural coordinator
- Matthew Diofelo – Chairman, Oporoza Community Development Committee
- Prince Yoko – Library construction
- See library plans.
- Read about the Citizen Diplomacy Library project on NIDPRODEV’s website.
- Check out our newsletters for updates on Nigeria.
- Read more about Oporoza: Report From the Field, a first-hand account by Tunke Bisina, a Warri journalist.
- Learn about school libraries in Nigeria: The Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme and the Development of School Libraries in Nigeria: a catalyst for greater female participation in national development by Rose Okiy.