[blockquote size=”one third” align=”right” byline=”Alice Walker”]“Activism is my rent for living on the planet.”[/blockquote]
I am Fiona Lovatt.
I am a New Zealand poet and teacher, based in Kano (Nigeria) for several years. The Lovatt Foundation .Org is the umbrella for a group of small-scale Nigerian community projects, an online base for our current supporters around the world and those who would like to get involved to get updates on projects, collaborate and donate.
How it began
A suitcase, an internet connection, and correspondence with fantastic friends around the world are all that I travel with.
For four years I have used Facebook to share the stories and realities of life among the talakawa (the masses) in northern Nigeria. Friends, moved by the scenarios, have joined me in their own quiet ways, delighted that money and ideas go so far and that 100% of what is received is used for the purpose named by the donor.
A timid traveler and humanitarian, I initially picked a destination that had to be in the English-speaking world, in need an experienced educator (or a pair of hands) and, most of all, be behind the media headlines of crisis and carnage because I, like so many others, wondered, “What can I do? “
A journey from New Zealand to Nigeria covers half the planet in four days’ of airport hopping. I’ve made this journey every year since 2011, spending the better part of my time in Nigeria and each year I’ve found new opportunities to assist with problem-solving and capacity building.
COB – Children of Borno
COB is one of the foundations most urgent and long-term projects and has involved collaboration from friends and supporters around the world.
As we move ahead to establish a facility for Children of Borno let me introduce some current supporters, advisors, and friends in alphabetical order:
Abubakar Gambo, Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria
Abubakar explains why he is on board with COB – Children of Borno, “The gravity of the crisis in North-Eastern Nigeria can easily be underestimated because of the way it is being reported. With tens of thousands deaths and millions displaced, it’s easy to just see the numbers and not the people involved. COB operates at the people level and wants to provide homes, and not camps or just accommodation, for displaced, orphaned children. This is humanitarian work at the human level. Humans giving hope to other human beings.”
Ahmed Abubakar, Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria
Ahmed is the father of a growing family in Maiduguri where he and his wife both work: he is a radiologist, she is a physics teacher. His scouting helped us a great deal as we looked for suitable rental properties for COB: Children of Borno. We have been friends for several years over this period when the violence has escalated.
Aliyu A. Wali, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Aliyu is a business management consultant and fellow poet with a social conscience, providing good advice for the accounts and transfers that we have had to sort out so that those who respond to our invitation to give donations can be assured that all is in order.
Anna Milaeva, Miami, Florida, USA
Anonymous A & B Aotearoa, New Zealand
Anonymous A & B are too humble to let us name them. One provides a monthly sustenance allowance to Gidan Almajirai and the other covers many school fees and associated expenses. They have responded many times to extra requests; a bore hole in a village; a much-needed medical test for a sick neighbour, etc. They are an invisible and constant support.
Caroline Idehen, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Caroline is our youngest team member at age 18 and the US donation account is her contribution. She is one half of the dynamic mother and daughter team, with Susan Henshaw, who together make up the US donations headquater. She writes, “I support the Lovatt Foundation because of it’s services to humanity.”
Chaela Hall, London, UK (most of the time)
It is through her talents and generosity that we have this website and logo. Ocho Media is a much appreciated sponsor of Lovatt Foundation .Org .
Chaela has maintained a steady lifeline of affection and goodwill over several years, wherever I happen to have lived.
Dafe Otite (UK)
A wet night in London and a few good people gathered for a meeting convened by Ed Keazor, a conversation with Fiona Lovatt. Dafe, among the posse of Facebook friends, is already doing good things on his own so it was just a little step further to realising that it is no easy thing getting a remittance into Nigeria and his knowledge and experience would mean people contributing pounds wouldn’t have to personally jump through the hurdles. It’s great to have him join the cyber family. Dafe has set up the UK GoFundMe campaign for the foundation.
Dr. Isa Muhammad Jiddah Alfadlah, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Isa is the co-founder of the Mother’s Alive project and administers the training to the rural health professionals. His expertise and knowledge of the Nigerian health system and the needs of women and babies is invaluable. He was instrumental in helping me find lodgings and useful work to do when I first moved to Kano in 2011. He is a child of Maiduguri, now based in Abuja and I count him as my son.
Jack Vince Jr, Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria
Jack, a journalist on the frontline, has written this– “The situation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri from my experience of being resident in the city since I was born could, at best, be likened to those poor souls at the receiving end of the 1939-1945 war. As a world with conscience and concern for fellow humans, the needful should be done by all and sundry to make these dehumanised folks human again”.
Kelly Harris, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, Australia
Kelly Harris is the Australian ‘headquarter’ of Lovatt Foundation .Org and account holder for donations in AU Dollars. She is a former student of mine who has traveled with her own brand of service and is in the family-raising years of her life. She has been an little cracker with fundraising for some earlier projects and gifted medical and stationery supplies in 2012.
Marian Evans, Wellington, Aotearoa, New Zealand
Marian has played an important role in assisting with the practical tasks of setting up the website and Social Media accounts. She is an avid contributor to the blog so I can focus less on admin and more on the work.
Marian and I are writer and activist colleagues. I am grateful for the way she has archived my various posts, photos, drawings and poems in a Pinterest page.
Paula Jones & Shirley Allen, Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
Paula and I met when I was host of The Kia Ora Show, on Radio Waatea in 2010. Paula is an adventurous film maker and creative supporter of my work, collaborating with a friend in Aotearoa, New Zealand to kick start the “Two Wheels for Free” project that rolled for a time. Paula was involved in the production of “Tell Me”, a book that published a series of online discussions and photos shared between Palestinian children and New Zealanders. Watch out for her forthcoming documentary filmed in SE Asia as she followed the work of a Kiwi and his history with mine-clearance in Cambodia.
Shirley and Paula are collaborating with South Auckland schools to increase understanding between youth on opposite sides of the planet.
Pip Jamieson Nelson, Aotearoa, New Zealand
Pip will be holding an exhibition of paintings at Morrison’s Café in Nelson in May with funds raised to support COB – Children of Borno. Pip is grateful to live in Aotearoa, New Zealand, from where she recognises the many blessings of her home country and lifestyle whilst being aware that others throughout the world may not be able to enjoy such safety, affluence and access to support.
Dr. Saeed A. Saeed, Debrecen, Hungary
A patient friend who knows the reality of Maiduguri and does what he can remotely by mobilising contacts where and when needed. Saeed is the Magyar-based half of Sidro Synergies Ltd, a supporter of Lovatt Foundation .Org, while his brother tends to the Nigerian side.
Susan Henshaw, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Susan is looking after the US donation account so support can be received in US Dollars. She is passionate about human and civil rights and it’s no surprise that she has a career in law that backs up that enthusiasm. She walks the talk. “I support Lovatt Foundation .Org because quality of life and human dignity matter. Fiona does that.“
[blockquote size=”full” align=”right” byline=”Ethiopian proverb”]
When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.