The St Genevieve’s school community has been fund-raising for St Louis Sisters’ projects in Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia over the last 20 years. In 2010 it was decided to focus on a small number of projects that could evolve over time. In June 2010 six staff from the school visited Nigeria to evaluate possible projects.
Left to right Micky Gribbon, Sr Julianna, Aoife O Hagan, Marie Mc Donagh, Sr Victoria, Joan Kelly, Katherine Mc Cann, Ronnie Mc Donald
Nigeria, with a population of 190 million people is a place of have and have nots with the vast majority living in conditions that we would find unacceptable. Services that we in Ireland take for granted such as a secure electricity supply, clean drinkable water, effective sewage system and a safe road system are in a state of fracture. For most people in Nigeria it has a detrimental impact on everyday life and their quality of life. Together with the political uncertainty between Christian and Muslim parties, a sense of chaos pervaded the visit. However, this was in stark contrast to the warm welcome and the generosity of all the people that our group met. Having visited a number of possible projects, it was agreed by all that the following three projects would match our aims of supporting education and health in communities.
- The St Louis rehabilitation and out-reach centre for disabled children in Oka,
- The building of a new St Louis Primary School in Ondo,
- The St Louis Primary Health and Maternal Care Centre.
The visit gave first-hand experience of the support that was needed and it established an emotional and real connection to the children and people of Akure, Oka and Ondo.
On our return both staff and pupils’ committees were set up with the dual purposes of focusing on fund-raising and creating a greater awareness in the school community of the health and educational issues faced by communities from less privileged backgrounds and of the work carried out by the St Louis Sisters. To capture the nature of the relationship between the school community and the projects, the Nigerian word AJOSEPO was adopted along with the above logo. AJOSEPO means ‘together in friendship and as equals’. Since then, both pupils and staff have organised many events such as, a night at the races, bag packs, stealth mobile shops, craft fairs, cake sales, sponsored walks, pupil concerts, film days, male staff leg waxing and dance afternoons.
As a result of this support from the St Genevieve’s School
Community, numerous corrective operations have been carried
out on children with disabilities. Children with disabilities do not
have the same access to learning so educational support has also
been funded. Medicines, laboratory equipment and an ultra sound
scanner have been purchased for the Primary Health Care and
Maternal Centre and people travelled from afar to access
the improved health care facility set up in Oka.
Tayo and his mother after a knee and ankle operation
Sr Janet visiting a Patient who has a broken back.
His room is his world.
In addition, the outreach project into the local community provided
treatment, care and nursing to people who have no access to health
provision because they were poor or they could not travel due to their
disability. Moreover, people with disability have very low status in Nigeria
and the outreach project as described in an encounter with a parent of one
of the disabled children, ‘gave them hope’. Aspects of health care that we
take for granted are not available in Oka Nigeria so these contributions are
enhancing the lives of the local people.
Children from p1 and p2 of the St Louis Primary School ,
Ondo met during our visit.
The new St Louis Primary School is now built and is
providing high quality education for the young
children in Ondo Nigeria
Pupils in their new school building.
As in all areas of development, change occurs and the
main focus of the Ajosepo project has shifted to a
feeding and resourcing program for nursery school
children in Dawhan in Ethiopia. This is an area that is
recovering from local wars and people there live a
subsistence life. The nursery school is the Holy Saviour
Kindergaarden and it is providing opportunities for the
young children of the area. All of the children have to walk
larges distances every day over mountains to go and return
from school as education is valued.
There are no buses, black taxis or comfortable family
cars for transport. The feeding program has resulted in
an increase in children attending the school from 140 to
166 and attendance has been almost 100% since the
introduction of the feeding program. It is an oasis in their
Since 2010 the St Genevieve’s School Community has
raised more than £164,000 for the projects. The school’s
good work has been recognised in 2013 by receiving the
NI Assembly All Party Award for International Development
for Post Primary Schools. The School Community is continuing
its commitment to the projects. All of the above impact is only
possible due to the massive support and generosity from the
St Genevieve’s School Community which includes Staff, Pupils
If you would like to make a donation to St Genevieve’s Ajosepo projects you can do so in the following ways;