Educator| School Leader| Ed-tech Enthusiast| Child Protection Activist| Life Coach| Sister|Friend

Last weekend (Thursday April 28- Saturday April 30 2016) was a most phenomenal one for me. I was live at the Colour Conference, London hosted by Pastor Bobbie Houston and the Hillsong Church Global at the SSE Arena, Wembley. The Colour Conference began after Ps. Bobbie heard God whisper to her years ago to ‘create a conference for younger women undergirded by older women, and to tell them there is a God in heaven and a company of women on earth who believe in them’. Now that whisper has become a shout. Woohoo. This was the 20th year anniversary of Colour since its inception in Hillsong Sydney in 1996 and my very first.

Interestingly, I had been registered for this event since May 2015 (it is a paid conference) and then one-week before the event, it seemed as if all the forces of hell came against me to stop me from attending this conference. But since the Word of God says that we are more than conquerors, I triumphed again and overcame, and I was so blessed for going. Let me also say a big thank you to my sister, Norah Ogazi, who registered for me at the time she did so we got the early-bird rates. 🙂

The conference was such a woooooow experience for  me; I cried in every session I attended. God indeed moved into the neighbourhood of my heart in a wonderfully novel manner as I enjoyed the fellowship, the Word, the Worship, the Prayer time. I also made new friends from different parts of the world. I met a group of 4 friends from Belfast, Northern Ireland who practically adopted me; they’re all in their fifties. I learnt stuff like “Get your Brave on, Get your Royal on, Get your Prayer on, Get your Stance on…” I was reminded again that I am the King’s daughter (and you are too or the King’s Son). On the first night, we were given for free the new book ‘the Sisterhood’ by Ps. Bobbie (as seed) and a photo journal/memoir which together chronicle the journey of the Sisterhood founded 20 years ago. Such priceless gifts I must say; this is the real ‘paying it forward’. I am actually going to get more copies soon as gifts to some remarkable women in my life. Listening to the messages by great women of God such as Christie Caine, Lisa Bevere (whose message on marriage from Colour in Sydney was streamed to us in her absence), Holly Wagner, Kathy Clarke, Donna Crouch, Julia A’bell and of course, Ps. Bobbie Houston was really mindblowing. And then there was a prayer time; for those who are not aware, there’s a prayer movement started by Ps. Bobbie Houston during midday of everyday across the world called #MiddayBabyMidday and we set our alarm to pray for our global sisters in need. Previous prayer topics have included the girls been sold as sex slaves by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Please follow her @bobbiehouston on Instagram for more details. It was really entirely refreshing and I thought to share some of the messages on my blog with you as I have not posted in a while. God bless you as you read, share, and drop your comments. 🙂

CYC-Feet

Lessons from Colour Conference London 2016

Enlarge your tent by Holly Wagner from USA

Are you stretching into what God is trusting you with?

Isa. 54:2

Those who followed God did not have lives that got smaller.

From the Parable of the Talents, the faithful servants were the ones who grew what was entrusted to them. When you are faithful, not only does your life become an adventure; when you stretch, your life is connected to other people.

Abraham was blessed and as people of faith, we are blessed along with him. Stretching our tents is not only for us but for the women in our world; for the generations.

Different Kinds of Tents (With props)

Cute Barbie Tent: Pretty and to be admired but pretty useless (very small).

Small Pretty Tent: It’s pretty and royal, yes, but the problem with it is there is no room for other people; it can take just one. We’re meant to be connecting people to God.

Large Tent: Was not built overnight.

Ingredients for Enlarging our Tents

For enlarging and stretching our tents, we need the following:

  1. COURAGE (Josh.1:2)

Courage is not in some extreme spectacular action; it’s in the everyday courage. For instance, guts to ask for help, staying faithful to your spouse/calling, etc.

Don’t imprison yourself in your comfort zone; be willing to take the first step.

Apostle Paul knew what courage meant (beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, in danger of waters, robbers, the Jews, the Gentiles, hunger, thirsts, plenty fastings,…)2 Cor.11:25-26. He still endured

 

Courage also means when you quit looking for more if you realise that your tent is not okay. Fix it

 

  1. STRENGTH

Proverbs 31:17 – “She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.”

To enlarge, it takes strength.

  • Spiritual Strength
  • How’s your Trust-God thermometer? Do you pray and read your Bible? Have you let the Spirit of God develop His qualities in you? Do you love people or do they irritate you?
  • Mental Strength
  • Do your emotions lead you or do you lead them? Has your skillset gotten bigger? Why should you get the promotion?
  • Physical Strength
  • Are you committed to the long haul? Are you developing the ability to last? Do you keep doing the right thing over and over? Are you consistent? Life is not going to be consistent but we can be. Remember, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Put a stake in the ground. Take that ground. But know that the enemy is not going to roll out the red carpet as you take charge. Build your faith.

Finally, understand that we were created for community, created for together. As women, we need to speak encouragement into each other.

When we are at our weakest, that’s when God shows up and shows off. If God is involved, whatever He begins, He already has the end in mind.

Marriage Lessons by Lisa Bevere

Rev.22:17 ‘And the Spirit and the bride say “Come!”.’

We need to guard the spirit of marriage. Marriage was instituted by God as between man and woman but today even the very definition of marriage (as between a man and a woman) has been attacked.

When you’re single, in the spirit, you’re wielding a sword but when you’re married, it’s two of you together wielding a bigger sword. When you’re married, everyone gets bigger and you grow and increase.

If there are challenges in one’s marriage, speak strength into the situation. Stop fighting each other; RISE and BUILD.

*Take a journal and write down 3 words that will describe your marriage.

Truth is if we don’t have intents, we won’t build. Success in marriage is intentional.

God didn’t say ‘It is not good for women to be alone’. Research has shown that women can thrive on their own; unmarried men suffer more negative health effects than single women. So marriage is more beneficial to men than women. Men really need the help 🙂

Women have the ability to multiply. We are X-factors. When you have in a marriage, Wholeness (man) X Wholeness (woman) = STRENGTH. Gen 1:27-28.

It is NOT GOOD for man to be alone. Women have the ability to take what is not good and make it good.

Don’t love partially. Love completely and fearlessly. Women who love fearlessly, live fearlessly.

Give your husband the room to make mistakes (E.g. don’t tell him to cover his mouth when eating, etc.)

When you let God love you completely, you won’t be expecting to be living up to the standard to be loved by him (your husband).

Live boldly. When you understand that you are royalty, you don’t compromise your dignity.

Prov 14:1 ‘The wise woman builds her house…’ We build our house by our WORDS.

To have a successful marriage, you need to write down everything before you have anything. Do some ‘dreamscaping’. You and your partner should write down the kind of marriage you expect to have.

God is the author of those things in your heart. If you have not written them down, you’ll never know what you’re meant to be connected to.

It’s never too late to step into the end. Even though you didn’t write your beginning, our God ends something then He begins it.

 Let’s Talk Sisterhood!

Three Ducks in a Row (Ps. Kathy Clarke, Ps. Donna Crouch, and Ps. Julia A’bell)

Lessons to my younger self

  1. Be yourself. Don’t worry about how to say it.
  2. Use the Bible.
  3. Don’t go looking for the finished product; it’ll come over the decades.
  4. Put your seed in the ground. There’s a time for sowing. Get to the point where you can say “I don’t have to but I want to.”
  5. Read your Bible; it’s your absolute lifeline.
  6. You’re living your ‘for such a time as this’Don’t envisage such monumental moments. My every day is a monumental day if I put it in Jesus’ hands.
  1. Encourage relentlessly. The world is full of doom and gloom. Be an encourager.
  2. Don’t forget to have fun!

Images that tell a story!

Sources include the @bobbiehouston handle on Instagram

On December 19, 2011, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare 11 October as the International Day of the Girl Child, to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.
The theme of International Day of the Girl Child for 2015 is: The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.
This is coming on the heels of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be implemented within the next 15 years, following the drive to accomplish the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the UN. A lot has been achieved in the last 15 years since the dawn of the new millennium in 2000 towards the girl child education, rights and empowerment but a lot more has to be done.
The theme for 2015 is calling more attention to the power inherent in the adolescent girl. The current generation of female adolescents in the world has the power, drive, creativity and talents that need to be harnessed into creating sustainable solutions for the society. Interestingly, I met a young 12 year old girl yesterday (Nafisat, CEO Cupcake Queen) in a community fair at Whalley Range Girls High School, Manchester. Nafisat is a beautiful young girl whose dad and mum are immigrants from Sierra Leone and Egypt respectively. I was amazed to hear from her, how she learnt to bake cakes from her mum and has, since the beginning of the year, started her own business. She bakes wonderful cupcakes and sells them at about £4 each via community events and over social media. She also has plans of growing beyond Manchester and providing quality education for children from underserved communities. This is the power of the adolescent girl.
In the light of the 2015 theme, we all have a role to play towards putting adolescent girls at the centre of sustainable development efforts. In this blog post, I have decided to dream big for the Nigerian girls – my sisters – and to share my dream with the world. Below are the statements of my dream. Kindly read, share and dream on.
Thank you.

brac uganda
I dream of a Nigeria where girls (both children and adolescents) develop the habit of reading books independently and building capacity relentlessly so they can achieve their dreams without apologies.
I dream of a Nigeria where adolescent girls are provided with quality primary education that offers them the opportunity to boldly choose careers in robotics, computer science and in STEM generally – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
I dream of a Nigeria where gender inequality in education will be eliminated. Families and communities will be transformed in their thinking towards the value of educating the adolescent girl child.
I dream of a Nigeria where child marriages are almost non-existent so that girls can get all the education they need to realise their dreams. This is particular to girls being sold off at an early age as brides particularly in Northern Nigeria.
I dream of a Nigeria that is free from the terror of Boko Haram and/or any such terrorist group intent on repeating the incident of the kidnapping of the Chibok girls. Girls (adolescent or not) will be able to learn in a safe and secure environment with adequate learning resources at their disposal.
I dream of a Nigeria where a parent’s choice of school for their adolescent girls will not be a status symbol for them because there will be an equitable educational system with regard to policies, resources, and technologies.

 

Credit: International Day of the Girl Child, 11 October http://www.un.org/en/events/girlchild/

Photo Credit: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2013/aug/06/sex-social-economic-empowerment-girls-india

Awesome story! 

Culled from The Charlotte Observer

This story brought tears to my eyes and it will forever be an inspiration to me as I carry on with my not-so-popular career choice of becoming a teacher. Amazingly also, Corona Schools (featured in the story) celebrated her 60th anniversary this year 2015 – 60 years of providing world-class education, and 60 years of making history in developing the total child. Please read and be inspired also. Remember to drop your comments.

Aluko and Durantes Reunion

African American Rosalia Durante, 98, (left) served in Lagos, Nigeria in the 1960s and was the sixth grade teacher of Dr. Yele Aluko (right), in 1963. Decades later, back in Charlotte, USA, she recognized his name in the newspaper and brought him mementos of her time in Nigeria. Amazing story. Read on and be inspired…..

Because of his name and accent, it’s not unusual for Dr. Yele Aluko’s patients to ask where he’s from.

But in the early 1990s, when he got the question from this new patient – a retired Charlotte principal and Johnson C. Smith University professor – Aluko asked one of his own: Where do you think?

Spencer Durante guessed correctly that his new heart specialist was from Nigeria, in west Africa.

This rarely happened. In fact, when Aluko first came to Charlotte in 1989, one area hospital administrator suggested he change his name from Yele – pronounced yeh-lay – to Yale, so it would be easier to say.

As Aluko chatted with Durante and his wife, Rosalia, he learned they had lived in Nigeria from 1962 to 1966, when Spencer Durante was working on a U.S. project to build a college that would train Nigerians to be secondary school teachers.

Rosalia Durante (pronounced rose-ale-ya due-rawnt) said she had taught primary school in Nigeria. And she remembered having a student named Yele.

Really? Aluko thought. And he asked the name of the school.

When she said Corona International School in Lagos, his jaw dropped.

Aluko, who was born in Lagos in 1954, had gone to that school in the mid-1960s. What a coincidence.

The Durantes had seen Aluko’s name in The Charlotte Observer and made an appointment, both to confirm he was the boy at the Corona School and because Spencer Durante needed a heart specialist. They continued seeing Aluko for more than a decade, but the conversations focused on medical issues.

AlukoPatient_7

Class Picture

Spencer Durante died in 2003, at 86. Rosalia Durante remained one of Aluko’s patients, coming to his office once a year for an evaluation. At one of her visits, she brought Aluko a surprise. She had been digging through papers after her husband’s death.

She’d found an 8-by-10 copy of a black-and-white picture of her first class at Corona, for the school year 1963-64. That’s her, at 47, standing in the middle of 23 children – girls and boys, black and white, Nigerian, Asian and British, mostly dressed in white.

She asked Aluko if he saw anyone familiar.

Indeed, Aluko saw his sixth-grade self, legs crossed, sitting on the grass in the front row. He’s smiling at the camera, resting his elbow on his knee and his cheek on his fist.

“Oh my God, that is me,” Aluko thought. “How could this be?”

By what twist of fate did this Nigerian boy in Mrs. Durante’s class end up, half a world away and more than three decades later, becoming the heart specialist who cares for his former teacher and her husband in Charlotte, North Carolina?

Note

Settling in Charlotte

The picture had been taken outside Corona, a private British-owned school that attracted children who could qualify academically and afford the tuition. Some were children of foreign diplomats. Aluko’s father was a civil engineer; his mother had been an English teacher.

Aluko remembered having American, Nigerian and British teachers at Corona. He got a good education, good enough to get him into Kings College boarding school and then medical school at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He came to the United States for medical residency at Columbia University in New York, where he met his future wife, Shirley Houston, also a doctor.

In 1989, they chose to settle in Charlotte. Aluko said he started a solo cardiology practice after he couldn’t find an existing group that would hire someone with his foreign education. His practice grew into the city’s second-largest group of heart specialists, Mid Carolina Cardiology, now Novant Health Heart and Vascular Institute. He often was quoted in the Observer, about new heart procedures, efforts to reduce health disparities or the community of Nigerian doctors in the Charlotte area.

As she got to know Aluko, Rosalia Durante continued searching through her scrapbooks. They bulged with keepsakes from Africa – maps of Nigeria, newspaper and magazine articles, pictures of her students and copies of their handwritten notes.

“I keep stuff,” said Durante, whose home is decorated with African art, including a carved ivory elephant tusk and a painting by a Nigerian artist.

She remembers her first day at Corona School: “When I first saw all the boys in that class, I thought, ‘Oh, I’m gonna have a terrible time.’” She had three “rambunctious” sons of her own. But these boys, from several countries, sat at attention at their desks, called her “Madame,” and raised their hands and stood before speaking.

“They didn’t have many books, but their books were well-used,” Rosalia Durante recalled. “…I enjoyed hearing how the languages criss-crossed. … And they had to listen to a Southern dialect from North Carolina.”

AlukoPatient_5

‘My name is Yele’

Nigerian names were distinctive and stuck in her mind, Rosalia Durante said. It helped that she had asked her students to print their names in large letters on construction paper. For the first week, they held up their posters and announced themselves so she could learn to spell and pronounce their names correctly.

“My name is Yele Aluko,” she recalled him saying. He had bright, eager eyes and a “zest for knowledge. … He was inquisitive. You didn’t have to pull things out of him,” she said.

In 2011, Rosalia Durante read in the newspaper that Aluko was getting a lifetime achievement award from the Charlotte Post Foundation. She mentioned it to her granddaughter, who arranged for them to attend. During the ceremony, Aluko was surprised when organizers announced that his primary school teacher was in the audience.

By then in her 90s, Rosalia Durante stood at her table and waved. Aluko walked over and gave her a hug. She couldn’t hear well, but she had a keen memory of that year when he was beginning to find his path in the world. He vowed they would become more than just doctor and patient. They would be friends.

‘With all my love’

He called her occasionally, and this year, he arranged a visit to her home off Beatties Ford Road. Aluko arrived with a bouquet of flowers. Rosalia Durante pulled a note on white paper from her scrapbook.

It read: “To the teacher I will not forget. And to the teacher who has helped me with my lessons.”

Aluko recognized the tiny but clear and legible script – and thought how much better it was than his handwriting today.

He did not remember writing this note at the end of sixth grade to thank his American teacher. But she had saved it all these years. It had meant that much to her.

It was signed: “With all my love. From Yele.”

Read more here from the Charlotte Observer :Student and teacher reunite decades after meeting in Nigeria

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Welcome back! Hope you are off to a splendid start this August.

I had the privilege of attending an annual autism conference organized by GTBank sometime last month – The Orange Ribbon Initiative – titled ‘Bridging Gaps and Transforming Lives’ in Lagos. For me as a teacher, it was such a great time learning about how to care for children with autism, and how to be a voice for children with special needs.

Recently, I was listening to the conversation of two women and how one woman helplessly tried to describe a friend’s child to the other one. She used a word that broke my heart; she said ‘That fair one that acts as an imbecile.’ Immediately, I thought to myself ‘What if that boy was your son?’. I later resolved to give her the benefit of a doubt that they might not have known that the boy’s situation was autism. I forgave them on the grounds of ignorance. But I decided to do more than forgive – to educate those within my reach about what Autism is all about (I actually prefer to call it Awe-tism but for the purpose of English Language and the thesaurus).

So it is my hope that this blog post will educate you on what Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is all about and improve your attitude towards children who are autistic. Awareness about the condition ‘Autism’ is not so popular here in Nigeria, however, more children are being diagnosed to be on the spectrum. The ratio of autism in boys to girls is 2:1.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)/Autism is a neurological disorder that affects communication, social skills, and adaptive behaviors.

 Signs of Autism

–Language and Communication – delayed or absent verbal and nonverbal communication.

–Social interaction- no eye contact, interaction, understanding or shared attention.

–Behaviours/Sensory problems- odd or repetitive behaviours, sensitivity/lack of sensitivity to touch, smell, texture and sounds.

Cause of Autism

There is no known single cause! However, we do know there is a genetic component that results in neurological differences. We think there may be environmental triggers such as viral infections, metabolic imbalances, or exposure to environmental chemicals like mercury in fishes.

 More Signs of Autism?

  1. Not pointing to show
  2. Not following a point
  3. No pretend play
  4. Does not babble, point or make meaningful gestures by 1 year of age
  5. Does not speak 1 word by 16 months
  6. Does not combine 2 words by 2 years
  7. Does not respond to name
  8. Loses language or social skills
  9. Doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys
  10. Excessively lines up toys or other objects
  11. Is attracted to one particular type of toy
  12. Doesn’t smile
  13. At times seems to be hearing impaired

Genetic Vulnerability

  • Twice as likely to strike male than female
  • Some genes abnormality
  • X- chromosome
  • Environmental Factors
  • Environmental Toxins
  • Heavy metal Mercury

Care/Support for Children with Autism

Good evaluation for autism requires opinions/evaluations and information from a multidisciplinary team including:

  • Parents
  • Psychologist
  • Language Pathologist (experienced with ASD)
  • Occupational Therapist (for sensory issues)
  • Behaviorist
  • Others: Psychiatrist, Audiologist, Neuropsychologist…

Approach to Treatment

There are several approaches to treating children with Autism but here I would like to focus on only one – EIBI/EIBT.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention or Treatment (EIBI or EIBT) consists of 20-40 hours per week of individualized instruction for children with autism who begin treatment at the age of four years or younger and who usually continue for 2-3 years.

Also important is the need to alter the child’s food intake for the purpose of changing behavior. Many diets involve eliminating substances from the participant’s food intake.

Examples: Gluten-Free (wheat), Casein-Free (dairy), Sugar-free, Removal of food dyes, Foods thought to produce maladaptive behavior

Support Group and its Benefits

To a parent of a child living with autism, I would advise you to consider being a member of a support group of parents of other autistic children.

Some of the benefits include:

  • People feel less alone and better understood.
  • Empowers caregivers to work to solve their own problems.
  • Serves as a forum to share information and keep one another up to date on news of interest to them.

With these information, I hope that you will not make the mistake of calling an autistic child an imbecile. I have taught some autistic children who, when discovered and given therapy early, went on to blossom in subjects like Maths, Music and Arts later on in their schooling to the extent that they outshone their peers. Let’s respect them for who they are; they have equal rights and are to be loved and valued all the same. After all, they are AWE-tistic meaning AWESOME!

20150701_08454420150701_084932 20150701_084631

 

It’s the International Day of the African Child 2015 as declared by the UN.

The Day of the African Child was established by the former Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1991 in memory of the Soweto Uprising in South Africa, when students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received under apartheid and demanded to be taught in their own languages, on 16 June 1976. The OAU and its successor, the African Union, have since used the DAC to celebrate children in Africa and to inspire reflection and action on addressing the challenges that African children face today.

This year’s theme is ’25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa’. The call to action is to accelerate efforts to end child marriage.

In your own view, how can we accelerate efforts to end child marriage? What practical role can you play in this fight for the future of our children so they can realise their dreams?

Kindly share your thoughts in a comment.

Thank you!

Finally, the long-awaited blog is out! I call it ‘long-awaited’ because I have had the idea of starting this blog for over six months. I guess the reason I delayed is because I waited for the perfect time which never came. So, let me use this opportunity to encourage you to start doing the things you have always wanted to do because if you keep waiting for the perfect time, you will never get anything done.
I’m only a teacher proud enough to be one and I have decided to take the responsibility of telling the story of my journey, lessons learnt along the way that might as well influence you and other teachers positively, the role we all have to play in raising the standard of education in our nation and the duty we owe children everywhere. I believe that education is the springboard to opportunity and every child has the right to quality education.

This blog will focus on the following themes – education, child rights protection, educational technology, curriculum development and parenting tips. It will contain helpful information for everyone no matter your age or status.

So let’s get the conversation started. Remember to check from time to time every week to read posts and make comments because you never know where the influence of your comment will stop.

I believe this will translate into a medium for influencing positive change in the field of education and all that pertains to children such that it will soon begin to influence policy-making in the corridors of power regarding the above-mentioned themes. I see us partnering to send children (especially girls) to school, start a new community library or a community resource centre for learning about the use of computers, build new classrooms, effect changes in policies regarding children…….the list is endless.

Thank you for taking out time to check out my blog post