My set left Federal Government College Enugu (FGCE) in 1988, and borrowing the idea from the 1989 set, had started considering what we could quickly put together, to mark 20 years since we left FGCE. We had received information that FGCE was in poor state and needed help; we held robust e-mail discussions on the best way to help. The were suggestions of donations of various sorts, ranging from cash to books. We also had suggestions of a one-off visit for a career day. We also had some people suggesting that the best way to help was to contact the Nigerian Education policy makers and brief them on the situation.
I remember Chikwe Ihekweazu interrupting our discussions, with a suggestion that if we really wanted to help, we should rise above “token donations” commonly obtained in the Nigerian environment and engage with the FGCE; with a view of influencing the education sector- he outlined a rough roadmap and plan. To be honest, I wondered if Chikwe really understood what he was talking about; having left Nigeria some years back. Some of us, who are still resident in Nigeria, had a better grip of the situation on ground. However, we all resolved that the best way forward was for someone to visit FGCE and assess the situation on ground, before we could agree the way forward. I volunteered, not because I was really interested, but because I felt that was the best way to end the discussion, on engaging with FGCE.
The Initial Visit
|Corridors of Form 1 Block|
The Terms of Reference
When I got back to Port Harcourt, I gave my report via e-mail; from then onwards, the task before us was very straight forward; FGCE was in “dire straits”, anything we could do, would be of help. Having seen the rot in the School, firsthand, I was eager to start, but Chikwe insisted on a more structured approach to solving the problem. Thus receiving contributions from Chuma Maduekwe, Chioma Nwobi, Gbenga Famurewa and Mirian Kachikwu, we prepared the terms-of-reference and sent out appeals for donations; FGCE Project Hope was born. We then started reaching out to alumni to join us on this journey. Despite some initial scepticism, slowly colleagues began to understand the enormity of the problems and decided to join the train. The principle being that, in FGCE Project Hope, there is no hierarchy; all FGCE Old Students are de-facto co-leaders of this project. A vibrant e-group became the forum for all decisions regarding the project. With everyone committing a significant amount of resources to the project, we all engaged in its activities.
Working the Plan; Raising the Cash and Refurbishing the Classrooms
|Mrs Anowor - PH Focal Point|
The First Project Hope Career Day
FGCE Project Hope Career day held on 27th March 2009, was our first opportunity to engage with the Teachers and students. It was a rowdy affair. Mrs. Anwor had involved Mrs. Uko, who was very enthusiastic about Project Hope and the potential benefits for the School. This was the first time the Old students were visiting FGCE to discuss potential careers with current students and it was difficult to get the students to keep quiet. Some Old Students namely- Gbenga Famurewa, Chiwetalu Obikwelu,-, Nnena Madu, Kanu Ijere, Nick Wachukwu, Jideofor Echezor and myself gave talks on undertaking careers in Entrepreneurship, Geosciences, Banking and Finance, law, Information Technology, Medicine and Engineering. The questions from the students were never-ending, and it became obvious to all of us that participated in the Career day that Project Hope was needed, more that we initially believed. After the Career day, we had a get-together with some of the Teachers and inspected the classrooms being refurbished.
|Dr Ezinwa and future Medical Students at PH career day|
Thank you so much for your time and look forward to hearing from you. For details on the project, check out our website.
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Stay tuned for the concluding story of FGCE Project Hope, The Journey So Far……….with briefs on the 36th Prize Giving Day, the Second Career Talk, the 2010 Reunion and Founders Day, the 37th Prize Giving Day and the Journey so far.
If you want to know your past- look into your present conditions.
If you want to know your future-look into your present actions. - Chinese Proverb