A year in Nigeria: Sannu da aiki*

*A Hausa phrase translated as ‘well done’ and used as a greeting whenever Nigerians see you working, going to work or coming from work.

As my time in Kaduna, Nigeria goes by and days turn into months, I continue to learn and grow and enjoy many new experiences.

The past month and a half has been very busy and very good. I spent just over three weeks going to rural communities with the Education, Secure Livelihoods/Agriculture, and Women’s Development sections of Hope for the Village Child Foundation (HVCF) to conduct research to assess the impact of past programs as well as to better understand the needs of the communities to plan for the coming year. The interviews were conducted in Hausa and Gbagyi, but I was fortunate to have one of my colleagues nearby to translate what was being said.

Taking a break from the research with women in Koche-Koche
Taking a break from the research with women in Koche-Koche

My role was to oversee the development of the research questions and to build the capacity of the local staff throughout the research process. Spending time in these rural areas of South Kaduna, listening to their stories and seeing the challenges firsthand was an incredible learning experience, both professionally and culturally.

Recently, we held the annual HVCF Bazaar in an effort to fundraise for the organization and its work in the communities. We went to some of the local markets on their market days to promote the event and everyone seemed to enjoy the ‘oyibo’ (white person) dancing up and down the market aisles.

A boy in Pantaki
A boy in Pantaki

In my leisure time, I’ve attended the Nigerian church where my neighbor is the pastor (and where he called me up to the front of the church to tell the story about how, when he first invited me to attend his church, I told him I do yoga on Sunday mornings), went camping in the bush with a group of more than twenty expatriates and Nigerians for the Sallah holiday, hosted a new VSO volunteer from India for his in-country training placement visit and got a new housemate from Kenya. I’ve become used to having limited Internet connectivity, almost no electricity, and to eating spicy Nigerian dishes with plenty of ‘pepe’ (powdered chili pepper). I celebrated the recent American Thanksgiving holiday by making a gratitude tree from a branch I found and writing just a few of the many things I’m grateful for.

The blackboard of a primary school in Kaso Sarki
The blackboard of a primary school in Kaso Sarki

The Nigerian people continue to amaze me with their generosity, vibrant culture and unique worldview.

Christine M. Adolf (BBA ’07) is spending a year in Nigeria as a CUSO International volunteer, exploring how she can use her background in business to empower people living in poverty around the world. Her interests include yoga, reading, dancing, social entrepreneurship and exploring new places.

View all articles by Christine M. Adolf.


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