Cross section of students and staff of St Joseph's Orphanage School

Community Champion: How a Catholic Priest is Empowering Orphans in Cross River State

A Cross River Catholic Priest, Fr. Peter Abue, is providing homes for orphans and giving them access to quality education to match their peers in other developed countries.

RuralReporters recently made a road trip to Ogoja Local Council Area of Cross River State to meet with Fr. Peter Abue, a Catholic Priest and founder of Children of Rural Africa (CorAfrica). Abue has over the years devoted his life to community service and giving hope to orphans in the community of Mbube-Ogoja and Ipong-Obudu in Cross River State.

Fr. Peter Abue spoke with our reporter, Ibrahim Olalekan, on the objective of CorAfrica and his activity over the past years.  

CHILDREN OF RURAL AFRICA (CORAFRICA)

CorAfrica was founded by Fr. Peter Abue, who is keen about improving the lives of children through education, healthcare and economic development programs in rural villages.

In 2006, CorAfrica was official inaugurated and has since been running two educational campuses – St. Joseph’s Primary and Secondary School, Mbube-Ogoja, and Little Flower Nursery and Primary School, Obudu, both in Cross River State.

JOSEPH’s PRIMARY AND SECONDAY SCHOOL, MBUBE-OGOJA

The school is cofounded by CorAfrica and Abode for Children Inc, a United States based international organization.  The learning centre, which also serves as orphanage home to children from five years and above, has about 850 students comprising of both Primary and Secondary level.

A tour round the block of classrooms building reveals its state of the art learning tools like computer lab, science lab and a functional library but poorly stocked.

Fr. Peter Abue has been able to provide free and quality education for members of the community. Investigation into how the school is run reveals that students virtually pay for nothing to gain admission. Both day and boarding students attend the school at no cost.

RuralReporters had a chat with students and staff of the school.

Oko Magdalene: “The school has helped me in aspect of good morals; they have been able to mold us and the environment has been conducive for learning. The school has been helpful to some of us who are less privileged; we paid for nothing to get enrolled.”

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Nancy Ejeir: “I started from Nursery 2 and I’m now an SS3 student. My school fees was paid for by Fr. Peter Abue.”

Osang Janelh: “I have been with St. Joseph since my JSS2 and now in SS3. I am pleased and glad to enjoy the privilege of free education provided by Abode for Children and Fr. Peter Abue.”

Aganu John Nelson: “Though a former Senior Prefect with the school, during my stay as a student here, the teachers have been wonderful and are up to task; diligently performing their roles to build lives and we have not in any way been compelled to admit to their principles but always treat us as their children.

“The teachers mentor us on our future even without paying anything to get the quality education that is being offered.”

 

SCHOOL’S PLAN FOR THE FUTURE OF THE STUDENTS

Mr A D Ereshe (Principal, St Joseph’s Primary and Secondary School) was first employed as a teacher in 2010; he later got promoted to the post of Vice Principal and now the substantive Principal.

“We are doing our best here to educate the children. We should remember this is more or less a charity organization. Fr. Peter Abue’s partnership with Abode for Children, a United States based international organization, has been able to give the students due academic attention.

“The government has been supportive over the past years but we still do write to them to assist us by sending in Corps Members to St Joseph as their primary place of assignment. We believe this will ease the stress on our teachers due to shortage of manpower.

“CorAfrica and Abode for Children have ensured the students lack no quality education by providing funds to recruit and pay teachers at the end of the month. Though the monthly allowance is not much but the teachers have been committed to the course of building lives.”

SUSTAINABILITY

Mr Ereshe mentioned that funds and donations from charitable organization has keep the school running bearing in mind the rising population of orphans waiting to get enrolled in the centre of learning.

The Principal further stressed that donations have come from illustrious sons in the community especially with the donation of books and learning aids but these donations rarely come.

Visit to the school’s farm established the Principal’s stand on abundant farm produce capable of feeding the student to a point of saturation,

THE SR AUGUSTINA ABUO’s MEMORIAL HEALTH CENTRE IN MBUBE-OGOJA

Funded and supported by Abode for Children through the timely intervention of Fr. Peter Abue, the clinic was primarily St. Joseph’s School sick bay aimed at providing medical services for orphans and students in the school.

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Due to the rising medical need of the community, the sick bay was equipped to meet urban standard where community members visit for treatment of diseases.

Also, the centre makes available for a visiting doctor to attend to patients thrice a week, six staff member, five nurses and lab technician.

Ibrahim Olalekan with the Farm Supervisor at St Joseph's School Farm

Ibrahim Olalekan with the Farm Supervisor at St Joseph’s School Farm

Ibrahim Olalekan is a media writer and specialist. His enormous task as journalist has earned him media space in some leading online newspapers. Aside being a seasoned journalist, Olalekan has keen interest in advocacy, rural development and politics. Olalekan is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, and can be reach via: ibrahimolalekan001@yahoo.com or +2348101988313 and @lekanpaul

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