VSO volunteer Glenn Dodge in Nigeria
Glenn Dodge arrived in Nigeria in November and is our most recent “adopted” VSO volunteer.
The Fantsuam Foundation is a multi-disciplinary organization based in Bayan Loco, a neighborhood of Kafanchan in the state of Kaduna. The mission statement of the organization states the following:
We are a rural-based, non-governmental organization that works with local communities to fight poverty and disadvantage through integrated development programs.
In addition to the mission statement, the Foundation is guided by internal and external visions, the former focusing on making the Foundation a recognized leader in rural development programs within Kaduna and the latter on making Kaduna a replicable model for integrated rural development in Nigeria. The Foundation targets the southern part of Kaduna as its geography of focus. Expanding on these overall goals, the Foundation has recently identified three priority areas for the next three years: sustainable livelihoods, health and HIV/AIDS.
With respect to sustainable livelihoods, the Foundation seeks to counteract the effects of a regional economy depressed by the closure of the local railway. To achieve this, the Foundation employs a three-pronged strategy which includes microfinance, vocational skills training and access to ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure.
The microfinance component follows the classic structure for the discipline: providing financial assistance to women and other disadvantaged individuals so that they may obtain and manage income through self-employment. The Foundation currently services over 500,000 people in 13 chiefdoms through its microfinance operations. The operations are supported by a five-year grant from the African Development Fund.
Vocational skills training is provided through formal training at an academy based in the local area which focuses on basic and advanced computer training, brick making and GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) handset repair training. Finally, with respect to access to ICT infrastructure, the Foundation established the first rural-based ICT education facility in Nigeria in 2001. Scholarships for women were set up and funded through grants from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and prize money won for its innovation. A Cisco networking academy was set up with the assistance of USAID and Cisco Systems.
The Foundation’s health program has as its focus the facilitation of affordable and quality health services and the promotion of awareness and behavioral change on issues such as sexual and reproductive health. To achieve this, the Foundation has been engaged in a number of projects, including a healthcare clinic opened in 2007, which specializes in maternal health, and an information dissemination campaign, which provides health care information to communities.
Kafanchan has been identified as a center for HIV/AIDS infection, owing to its position as a hub for mobile populations of traders, farmers and miners. The Foundation has recognized this propensity for the spread of HIV/AIDS by incorporating programs related to the disease across all of its projects and developing projects specifically to assist those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Included in these projects are a Positive Concern Support group, offering administrative, financial, nutritional, and health support for those people dealing with the disease and Kakas, a home-based support group for grandmothers who must provide for their grandchildren.