The Granby Drummer has featured stories of building projects in several regions of Nigeria through the nonprofit group Africa Education Partnership. Board member and retired Granby teacher, Elaine Chagnon, along with husband Bob, a retired DATTCO, Inc. controller, have been working on sending school buses to Kafanchan, Nigeria.
The birth of an idea
In fall of 2018, Bishop Markus Dogo and his wife visited here and were guests at the Chagnon house. Bishop discussed the need for buses to transport children to school. There is no school transportation provided to students, who must often walk far distances to attend. Often, parents cannot provide rides to school. There is limited access to town buses and schools are not on the routes, meaning that students must still walk a distance from the stop. Often, students arrive late, tired, or not at all.
Bishop pondered how he could obtain several buses to help and said he would begin to raise the funds to purchase them.
Bob began the search through his former employer at DATTCO, Inc. of New Britain. The search took over a year. Finally, two mini-buses were located in excellent condition. They passed inspection with flying colors and were approved. Bishop Dogo wired the funds to DATTCO and made the purchase of the two vehicles. The buses arrived at the Chagnon’s house while shipping arrangements were completed.
Thanks to the generosity of fellow teachers and friends, Elaine had collected approximately 40 boxes of books and school supplies. Now that the buses were secured, shipping barrels were ordered and paid for by Africa Education Partnership. A safe packing party was held and nine barrels of supplies labeled for various schools were safely strapped into the rear of the buses. Two barrels of medical supplies were included for the hospital on school grounds.
In the meantime, a Facebook fundraiser was posted to pay the $7,700 needed to ship both buses and barrels. Thanks to the outpouring of support, funds were raised over and above the shipping costs. Those funds paid for two barrels of bus parts, purchased at cost from DATTCO, Inc. to help with maintenance.
From the Bronx, New York to Lagos, Nigeria
A Nigerian pastor-friend in the Bronx arranged the actual shipping itinerary from the port. On a mid-August Friday afternoon, two DATTCO bus drivers made the trip, followed by the Chagnons, to the drop-off point. The buses were secured in a parking lot for the weekend and were picked up on the following Monday and driven to the port. It took about a month for the ship to sail from the port since no vessels sail until fully loaded.
After a six-week journey at sea, the ship arrived in the harbor of Lagos, Nigeria on Oct. 20, and the ship was able to dock on Oct. 29. Due to unrest in the city, the buses could not be collected until Nov. 10.
The buses arrived in Kafanchan on Nov. 10—cause for great joy! Traffic was stopped by the road safety corps so that the community and school students could all come out to see the procession. The boys’ brigade provided drums and bugles for dancing. It is just amazing to see the reaction that two used buses can bring, and what a support they will be to this community of school students.
Many thanks to the community of supporters that made this possible. It truly takes a village. For further information, please contact Elaine Chagnon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit africaep.org