Community Development for People with Disabilities

The Rotary Club of Eziama Sunrise in Aba Nigeria is working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Rotarian Zubi Akamnou talks about this work and their plans for the future.


Peter Tonge 0:21
Welcome to this episode of Talking Rotary. I’m Peter Tonge, and I’m a member of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg Charleswood. And I am Mandy Kwasnica Past President and also a member of the Rotary Club of Winnipeg Charleswood when we are so happy you have joined us here and I are so excited for this new podcast and thankful to our many listeners. Let’s start talking Rotary.

Hi, everyone, this is Peter Tonge. Welcome to another episode of Talking Rotary. I’m speaking to someone in Aba Nigeria today. Zubi Akamnou and I hope I got that pretty close to right Zubi.

How are you?

Zubi Akamnou 1:27
I’m fine. You?

Peter Tonge 1:30
I’m struggling with these African names. I apologize for that.

Zubi Akamnou 1:34
Please. Just make it Zubi The other one is hard just make it Zubi. It’ll be easier for you. All right. I

Peter Tonge 1:43
I appreciate that a great deal. Now as I was mentioning earlier, my friend this podcast gets distributed all over the world. So can you tell everybody a little bit about Aba Nigeria?

Unknown Speaker 1:58
Good. Aba is a metropolis in Nigeria Okay. Got a commercial city. It has a about 3.5 million people. Aba has about eight functional Rotary clubs including Rotary Club of Eziama Sunrise. Aba an urban city with facilities amenities that goes with an urban city.

Peter Tonge 2:45
Okay. Yeah. And tell me a little bit about your Rotary club. How big is it How long has it been around?

Zubi Akamnou 2:55
Our Rotary club is medium sized is a medium sized club, but they have interest in fellowship and service projects. We have been there have done quite a number of global grant and they have done a quite a quite number of a wide number of projects or district sponsored projects. They have Rotary Club or Pleasanton USA as as a friendly club. Every year they do one district wash projects with Rotary Club of Pleasanton, USA and the way we have done quite a number of projects on economic community, economic development, we are presently looking for sponsors for another one. We have done one woman women Development Center where they were where we were equipped in place for them from services, vocational vocational training, in so in Canberra, and arrays are fit and that that project, that project is doing very, very well. So is that the club is that 14 years old now?

Peter Tonge 4:28
Okay, so recovery a little bit more pleased about this project with the with services for women. It sounds very interesting.

Zubi Akamnou 4:37
Yes, that projects. We have to we we said we must do. We like I told you in my last mail. We went there for evaluation of the situation. We have not really we have not really packaged up place but this is what we want to do. They have a platinum about our students that surprise, surprise from mental retarded. And that what we call them and dump. When we went there, the first time we start that, that teaching that the method of teaching is so good. We were asking ourselves, How can we improve on their teaching? Teaching aid? Is there any, any instrument overseas to any instrument, modern instruments for teaching of teaching people of that nature they have. And some of them, some of them have been there for 8-10 years, because they don’t have any place to go. They still they keep coming. They cannot be integrated into the society. They don’t know any of it, they don’t know much. Then we thought of opening a Vocational Center there, where they will now learn instead of instead of this one, learing , 123 ABC, they learn vocational, they’d learn something like dressmaking computer and the rest of it. And incidentally, they had a craft center there, and they have a professional center there by the government, negligence the equipment’s are no more there. We want to reestablish the equipment we want to reestablish, give them water, they don’t have good water there and do anything to improve teaching and learning. They have a library that the library is moribund, I think I gave you some pictures of the top the pictures of the lab did what they call library use, oh, we want to see, we want to see how we can improve on that. school so that after spending five years or two years, you come out, you must have left one thing or another. Now really ABC 123. That’s our that’s in a nutshell what we want to do.

Peter Tonge 7:15
Okay, well, you’ve given us a lot to talk about here. And yes, you sent me some pictures of this. The the the center as it exists now. It looks like it needs a lot of things physically like the the, the kitchens and the toilet facilities and those kinds of things look like they need work. And then as you say, you want to improve the training that these students are getting to become more vocational. Do I have that right?

Zubi Akamnou 7:52
You have to have the right.

Peter Tonge 7:54
Okay, great. Ijust want to make sure we’re on the on the same page. How did you how did you discover this project or what practice to your Rotary club?

Zubi Akamnou 8:09
Okay. Last year, last fiscal year, where during our club installation, there was an appeal made by one of the attendees because they saw that we we provide water to people to schools go around there around there around them, that that will need assistance. Then we’ve got to talking, we visited we visited the school and we discovered I really they need assistance. Assistance like I have just enumerated to you now, as various things I have told you, that is how we got to learn about us good, not that not that having we are living in Aba and I know that that we know that there is a school like that in school for physically challenged, but we have not been able to know what they what they do there or how they do it. That that that introduction opens our eyes to the difficulties the students face.

Peter Tonge 9:34

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Peter Tonge 10:07
And now, this this is this is quite quite a large undertaking, you sort of have a plan on sort of what order you’re going to do things in, or how are you going to tackle all this?

Zubi Akamnou 10:21
Yeah, we are, when we put up this tidy up the property will will seek for international partners going to Dev is going to be a global grant where Rotary Foundation will come in, will seek for international partners as a prerequisite for Rotary Foundation to to come in. And he was seek for this District and other international districts and our own districts, for them to come in and see and see how far we can we can go. The whole thing may not be the whole team may not be achieved, we can take that as just a one point we may take it into our into Phase.

Peter Tonge 11:05

Zubi Akamnou 11:06
, Jordan, we take this one after we take the other one. But this vocational aspect is very, very important.

Peter Tonge 11:14
Right, I agree. Do you think you think you’d sort of tackle that part first? Or?

Zubi Akamnou 11:20
Of course, I would do Know we can get there?

Peter Tonge 11:24
Yeah. I just I just I just tried to think it through as we’re talking about it. But the book, the vocational part in training to, as you say, changing, changing the teaching model seems seems to be so important now. Yeah. I agree and say there are other sort of physical things to do too. But helping helping integrate folks back into your communities seems seems, seems important to me anyway. So I’m glad to hear that.

Now, as you’re as you’re putting these, this together, what what kind of the Rotarians and other Rotary clubs do to help?

Zubi Akamnou 12:11
No, particular type of Rotary. Any Rotary that has interest in disabled people living with a disability that can partner with us.

Peter Tonge 12:26
I feel that that seems fair. That as, as either, so. So ever, ever talking about this? Today, you would like to you would like to sort of move, move forward with this global grant with some international partners to do both the vocational side and then work on some physical things at the center? Am I getting all this? Right?

Zubi Akamnou 13:00

Peter Tonge 13:01
Good. Yeah. That that, that helps me well, certain, certainly seems like, like, work, work well worth doing so hopefully we can, we can help you find some partners. Because this is this is I think, a really a really terrific project.

Zubi Akamnou 13:25
Tell me about your club.

Peter Tonge 13:27
Oh, absolutely.I’m happy to tell you about my club. So I, as I was saying, I live in in in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, by Canadian standards, that sort of a medium sized city, we’re just sort of about 900,000 people. There are in my in my district. We are carriers divided into provinces much like the United States divided the states in my my district runs across two Canadian provinces and part of another sort of two and a quarter provinces. We have about 44 Rotary Clubs in our district. My club is relatively large. We’re somewhere in the in the sort of 40 grains which in this area are fairly large Rotary Clubs these days. We do we’ve been doing a lot of things. We we’ve we’ve done water and sanitation projects in Ghana, but what we’ve been doing a lot lately is we’ve been doing a lot of work on Ukrainian refugees from the war because my rotary club has some some strong connections to to the Ukraine. We own room for literally hundreds of years. Lots of people have been migrating from the Ukraine to this area. Canada. So there’s a bunch of Ukrainians in the area, and my rotary club has some direct links. So we’ve been fortunate enough to help safely get some some families out of Ukraine. And that’s what we’ve been doing. Most lately, but the everything we do that I think is kind of unique is in our city. We literally have a huge urban park right in the middle of the city and my, my rotary clubs are the are the are the custodians of this urban park. So that’s sort of what we do more locally.

During the worldwide Shelterbox community to receive exclusive email updates about where solar box is currently working in the world, you’ll be joining a community of residents who are paying to see a world where no one is left with a disaster. To Shelterbox, Canada. The wound i i used to be a member of a different marine from a different area of the country. We did. We did lots of water and sanitation stuff in Ghana. And it was like, it was like that what happens? I guess so after with Rotary Clubs, is we had we had a good connection was the Rotary clubs in Ghana, we have some very successful projects, so we kept going back right, you kept going back to the partners that you know.

Zubi Akamnou 16:57
That’s why I know. That’s why I want to that relationship, that relationship in you enjoy in Ghana, I want to to establish such relationship in Nigeria too.

Peter Tonge 17:09
Yes, I think that would be great. Not without regrets. I will say we’ll certainly will certainly distribute this and hopefully, hopefully find you some partners because I think I think it’s an important project for sure. I don’t have very many standard questions in my podcast, but I do have one that I always ask the Rotarians is you could be giving your time and your energy to lots of organizations Why Why are you giving Why did you pick Rotary? Why do you stay with Rotary?

Zubi Akamnou 17:49
Rotary, really, as a matter of fact, I joined Rotary as a Rotaractor.

Peter Tonge 17:57

Zubi Akamnou 17:59
I joined Rotary as a Rotaractor while in school and I enjoyed the friendship, and the friendship I met over 30 years ago, still, we are still friends. And when I grew when I joined Rotary, I discovered and discovered also the Yeah, if you combined his friendship with service project, it’s gonna it’s going to be a wonderful either. And when when we create work that when we give water to pupils or students in the school day, the enthusiasm, the enthusiasm used to do this by excitement you get from them, it really makes me happy that I’m contributing to the one thing or another and contributing to their well being. So I, there’s that meant, the community itself gives me joy. And that is why most most now, I rely on service projects. Developing developing projects for clubs.

Peter Tonge 19:10
It’s pretty hard, pretty hard to beat that feeling, isn’t it when you see the good work? The good work having an impact? Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I agree with you completely. No, no, I’m, I’m going to ask you to put your visionary hat on for a moment. Where would you like to see this project in five years?

Zubi Akamnou 19:36
This project we’re talking about? Yeah. In five years, is going to be the pledge will expand that I’m seeing it in such a way that they produce what what people will come to buy, but will not come to them. What I make dresses to teach them how to make dresses or bread come Buddha as you take them out to cook bakery and people can now when they beg people can now come to seek for their services. And people will be the experts that center the mob. Because if there’s if there’s nothing bring you to data center, you cannot go there. I don’t even know that there exists. Yeah. So the way improve on on their standard made, do you give them good facilities? Good facilities to be productive people now will look for them. Yeah, I want to I want to say the project. I don’t know how to put it, but I want to see what you see there was violence, that when your daughter or your son is admitted in that school, you will it’s not going to be a hopeless I there’s got to be a hopeful either.

Peter Tonge 20:58
Exactly hope for these young people. And then they become a resource for the community, as you say, where people go to get goods or to do it. I think that’s I think that’s, I think that’s, that’s excellent. That’s good. Good, good stuff for for sure. Zubi. Thank you so much. This has been great this, this will, this will add it up nicely into a into a podcast episode and we’ll get it out there in the world and will will hopefully help find you some partners

Zubi Akamnou 21:32
I am very grateful.

Peter Tonge 21:35
All right, I’m gonna turn the recording off and then we’ll have another little chat because I haven’t even said hello to Stanley yet.

Mandy Kwasnica 22:28
Thank you so much for joining us on another great episode of talking memory. We would love to hear from you. Please send us your comments and story ideas and you can share with us easily by sending us an email at feedback at talking Let’s keep talking Rotary.

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