Bobbie's Blog

Sunday Snapshot #14

“Challenges abound” here in Madina, and Mende is my life’s hardest. (That’s the language everybody here speaks, except me. I’ve gone from hearing about 1% to hearing about 10% )

Ndenga nyandengowesia = beautiful children

Tokpo yawomoi = palm tree trimmer
Ndenga nyandengowesia = beautiful children
Kinawove ta ngi nyahawove = Old man and his old wife.
LOL. See what I mean? Plus tones and accents and order of words, all different. Makes me so admire these children learning English! What is your biggest challenge in life? God give you the strength to keep on trying!

Kinawove ta ngi nyahawove = Old man and his old wife

Sunday Snapshot #13

Bird’s Eye View

See Madina Village School from above! During February and March, Phil Elam, Vice Chair of the MVS Board of Directors, has been in residence at Madina, helping plan the power system and using his drone camera to view MVS from the sky. On Sports Days, here is what the birds saw – hundreds of kids and adults cheering on the teams from Blue House, Yellow House, Mauve House and Pink House. That colorful edge to the track is the border of fans, dressed to support their kids’ teams!

Madina Village School Campus with Sports Day in progress on the track and field.

Congratulations to all the winners, but especially the overall winner for 2022 – Blue House! Monday morning presentations were followed by a fun march through the town of Mosenesie Junction.

After a slow start the first day, Blue House poured on the speed and came out on top!
Pink House will try again next year, and until then, we keep our spirits up with hope and fun.

Can you tell it’s dry season? That means it’s the right time to drill the deep bore hole well for the new health center, and bring heavy equipment to level two entry roads! Now is the time! So much to do!

Sunday Snapshot #12

Learning to read is important, but when you learn to LOVE reading the whole world opens up to you! At Madina Village School reading is priority #1. It doesn’t come so easy, though. It’s a challenge to learn English and reading at the same time, so it is hard work. It’s kind of hard to love it right away.

Angela, sponsored student, in her reading class at MVS.

Another part of the challenge is that reading here has mostly meant textbooks. One half hour of DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time each day gives the kids and teachers a chance to read other kinds of books that they choose, but we are still working on providing a wide variety of books to inspire the LOVE OF READING. (We’ll be needing a book drive later this year.)

Meanwhile, my reading life has taken me through 300 years and around the world with a NYTimes bestseller. My mom was still reading at 90 and I plan to do the same. I encourage you and our teachers to keep on reading forever.

Teachers, Dorcas, Tienge and Sam, getting into a good book together.

Sunday Snapshot #11

Our Facebook post in October led to an outpouring of loving concern for seven-year-old Rashid, who is deaf, and was not in school. Because of this, we were able to secure a place for him at a boarding school for the deaf in the town of Bo. Here he is, modeling his new school uniform. All the school fees and items he needed were provided from the funds sent by caring friends.

Rashi is on the second floor of the dormitory, where the matron they call Mama (in sign language) makes sure he is fed his breakfast, dressed and ready for school each day.

We had heard he was having trouble with malaria, so his uncle went to check on him. Nurse Mariam, of Madina Village School, sent a round of malaria treatment medicine, and the report is that he is well again, and going to classes. His mother also drops by to visit him. We’ll keep checking on him, as he is one of our Madina children, so stay tuned and keep him in your hearts and prayers.

Sunday Snapshot #10

We are back in Sierra Leone, just ahead of the big storm in the midwest USA. We have been blessed with a new (well, not new – 2007 – but new to us) vehicle that can do better on the unpaved roads we travel. It sits high, 4-wheel drive on big tires, and they sure can see us coming! This color wasn’t intentional but we’re getting used to it. It has a personality, so it has been named – The Madina Bumblebee. Oh, the places we’ll go!….

Snapshot #9

Can you find the one crying child?

It was an exciting day when the Madina Village School Preschoolers got their new bed nets to sleep under. These treated mosquito nets are very successful in reducing the number of students who get malaria from mosquitoes. But somebody got left out, and she’s not happy about it. Don’t worry; Nurse Mariam is a super problem solver who never lets anyone get left out. Thanks to all of you who have contributed to the bed net program! It is saving lives in Madina.

Sunday Snapshot #8
Merry Christmas

His flights are over!  Francis is back in Fort Wayne, sleeping off the jetlag.  But that would make a boring picture, so here’s one from last week, before he left our little blue house in Madina.  We can use the same title:  His flights are over.  The hunter became the hunted, as Francis proved he can still protect the dwindling flock of chickens.  

Meanwhile, here’s a tranquil shot of the preschool just down the path from our house.  No children in this picture, and no hawks either.  

It’s great to be on the same side of the Atlantic.  We hope everybody is having a wonderful time getting ready for Christmas, near or far, together or apart.   Peace to all, Bobbie

Sunday Snapshot #7
Container Arrival

The 40-foot container finally arrived at Madina Village School.  Francis cancelled his flight and stayed behind to see it all safely stored until the Health Center is finished. Many thanks to our partner S.O.S. (Supplies Over Seas) of Louisville, Kentucky, for all the supplies and equipment! 

Many hands lined up in a “bucket brigade” make light work of unloading straight into the main door of the Health Center.

Everything from antibiotics to wheelchairs will be put to good use. We are grateful!

Sunday Snapshot #6
Over the Ocean, Between Two Worlds

What a modern privilege it is to be at home in two places in the world. 

How wrenching it is to always be saying goodbye, and readapting to the other side. (picture above is Bobbie and Zainab, the Madina Village School Head Cook)

Wish we could just zap back and forth with a portal like in Harry Potter.  This whole weekend, with 30 hours of flights and layovers, our friend Joanne and I are making our way home again to Fort Wayne.

While we were gone, there was an invasion of raccoons!  In our house in Fort Wayne! We thought it was hard enough trying to keep snakes and rats and lizards out of our little house in the palms at Madina.  Never would have dreamed Indiana was still so wild!  (huge thanks to Patti and the cleaners! You can be glad I have no picture to post here of the mess they made!)

I am looking forward to getting home, Thanksgiving around the table, putting ornaments on the tree, Milo’s Christmas program, pumpkin pie …

but… Francis is staying behind in Sierra Leone, waiting for the container of supplies and equipment for the Health Center to be cleared from the port and taken to Madina.  Corruption slows everything down, very frustrating. If it isn’t released soon, he’ll miss the oyster dressing and we will miss him at the head of the table. Hopefully, he can still come soon. We wait and pray…

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Happy Thanksgiving!  Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home… and we are grateful for both of them!

Blessings on your family, together or apart!

Bobbie

wwwmadinavillageschool.org  (to see previous blog pictures, click on the little “News” link below the current blog.)

Sunday Snapshot #5
Mind, Body, Spirit

Guest Blogger Joanne Cearbaugh

Madina Village School nourishes the minds of 440 preK-Class Six students who attend every day. They are getting a fantastic education!! It’s been my delight to partner in that instruction with interactive English lessons the last few weeks. I’ve come to realize, while participating in school activities, that the bodies and spirits of the students are also nourished.

The students gather every morning for songs, scripture reading, and prayer. It is often student-led! In addition, there is daily religious instruction built into the schedule at all grade levels, memorization of scripture and prayer before meals.

The physical needs of Madina students are addressed in several ways. Three dedicated cooks prepare rice over an open fire, along with potato leaf, okra or cassava leaf, and always have a bit of fish, chicken or beans for protein for each child every day. Amazing !!

Malaria, the most common ailment in the area, is actively fought. If needed, students are given a mattress that is made locally from rice bags and stuffed with grass. Every child receives a bed net to sleep under to prevent mosquito bites. Since implementing this program four years ago, there have been no malaria deaths. Distribution day is a day of celebration.

Most life-changing of all, a health center is under construction to search the needs of students, their families and the whole community. MVS is educating the next generation as well as providing a spiritual foundation and improving the health of each child. I am grateful to be a small part of this endeavor and for the privilege of seeing everything first hand,…mind, body and spirit.

Sunday Snapshot #4

“How Sweet to Hold a New Born Baby…” (from Because He Lives, by the Gaithers).

What a blessed child baby Bobbie Esther is, not by wealth or privilege, but by being born to a couple who truly love God and love each other and will bring her up within the loving community of their Faith family.  Mark and Acquilla are both teachers at Madina Village School, so 440 other children are also blessed by their teaching and examples. 

From birth to the next life….

Today Madina Village is full of people for the “40 Day” celebration of two of Francis’ sisters who recently died.  The eldest, Ina, was pictured next to him in last week’s blog.  The younger, Lukiatu, died unexpectedly soon after coming back from many years in the U.S. to live in Sierra Leone.  Next weekend will be the funeral of their older brother Moses.  As you can imagine, we are contemplating the beginning and end of life more than usual during these last few weeks of three sibling losses.  Thank you, praying people, for lifting us up.

 Even during ceremonies of death, we are celebrating life and so thankful to be here. 

Sunday Snapshot #3

Do you believe in ghosts?  Is a graveyard a scary place for you?

This snapshot was taken in the center of Madina village.  Francis is sitting on the edge of his father’s grave.  His father, Pa Sam Koiva Mustapha, was also called Sam Madina because he was the founder of the village.  That’s why he is buried in the middle of the village.   Sometimes the village is referred to by his name, and  somebody may say, “I’m from Madina Sam.”  

Most of the other ancestors of Madina people are buried in a large woods at the edge of the village.  I asked Francis’ sister Hannah one time if she was afraid of ghosts when passing this burial ground.  

She said, “Why would I be afraid of the graveyard?  Everybody buried there is my family who loved me.  My Mother, my brothers and sisters.  Even if they were ghosts, they would never hurt me.”  

Building One on the Madina Village School campus is named in honor of the famous Sam Madina, the “Sam Madina Memorial Building”.  One of the four intramural “houses” (Blue House) also carries his name, “Sam Madina House”.  

Pa Sam was the first man in the area to send his children to school, a wise man ahead of his time.  Even though he’s been gone for forty years, his presence is still felt in this place.

Francis says of his father, “He could not read or write.  You could write an A as big as a house and he couldn’t tell you what it was, but if I can be half the man he was, I will consider myself a success.”  

A ghost in the village?! Francis looks so much like his father that once when he went for a moonlight walk through the village and stopped by his father’s grave, one old sister looking out her window saw him and told everyone the next morning that Pa Sam himself had come back to visit the village at midnight. 

 

She believed in ghosts.  Do you?

Sunday Snapshot #2

In 2011, plans for Madina Village School were only on Francis Mustapha’s heart, not visible to everyone else. Even he could not picture then what has become reality now. As he says, “God seems to be dealing with me on a need-to-know basis!”
God’s plans have been so much bigger than ours!

Here’s a 2013 picture of Madina children being lined up to sing a goodbye song as we left Madina. They had no experience with school yet. Lining them up took a long time. Eight years have passed. The 2021 picture is this past year’s Class Six taking a “mock exam” in May to help them be ready for the National Exam to go on to Junior and Senior Secondary Schools. 100% of them passed. Now they move on… God has plans for them!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah, 29:11. We look to the future with expectation and hope!

Sunday Snapshot #1

The saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is only true if you know what you are seeing in the picture.Today I’m starting a blog that will bring you one snapshot a week and add a few words to explain it.

I (Bobbie Mustapha) am living very close to Madina Village School (with my husband Francis, the school’s founder) and when I walk the short path from our little round house to the school campus, the children shout greetings “Bobbie, Bobbie” and many come running, especially if they see my phone is out. “Can I snap you?” is the polite thing to say, and kids always say ‘yes’. I’m not in very many pictures because I’m usually behind the camera.

This selfie is my favorite because it’s beside our assembly hall, which is the breeziest and busiest building at MVS. I’m with one of my favorite beautiful MVS girls, and we caught the women with the baby behind us, watching us and photobombing.

Come to www.madinavillageschool.org every Sunday to take another peek through my camera lens at life at Madina Village School.

Bobbie’s Bonus Snapshot:

The ceiling beams of the assembly hall are painted with verses selected by the teachers. In the center is my favorite, “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.

Blog by Bobbie Mustapha

Welcome to Bobbie's blog and her Sunday Snapshots! Bobbie Mustapha, Board Secretary of MVS, is a retired teacher specializing in Reading and Early Childhood Education.  She lives with Francis Mustapha in Sierra Leone for several months of each year.  She leads teacher training and school development at MVS and organizes the sponsorship program.