Nigerian king speaks with Flint leaders about community development, social issues

FLINT, MI – Basic human needs for his people weigh heavily on the mind of a Nigerian king, the Rev. Samson Oladipupo. In a plea for support of his people, Oladipupo met with several Flint leaders at Café Rhema in downtown Flint, Friday, July 25, to discuss the struggles facing his constituents in Tepona Land, Nigeria. Oladipupo expressed the lack of education and water distribution as two major issues facing his homeland. “When I became king, I considered it an opportunity to develop my community,” he said. “I don’t want to leave it the way I met it.” His title and position were passed down from his father in 2009. Partnering with

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Texas-based non-profit PursueHope, Oladipupo hoped to gain support for the establishment of schools in Tepona Land, to train students in agriculture and social issues. He said education is essential to bolstering the third-world community, which contains 17 villages and has a population of 7,000. “One of the challenges my community is facing is there is only one school for all the villages,” he said. “Some kids have to walk miles to get to school. Because of the distance, some don’t even get an education. They stay home. My heart bleeds for that. Education is life.” During the roundtable discussion, Oladipupo explained it would cost $40,000 to erect a new school in Tepona Land. He passed out literature asking for donations of $500, from 80 organizations. “My community must have school,” Oladipupo said. “That is the main and most important thing. That is actually why I came to America: to ask Americans for support in building children’s schools in my community.” While Oladipupo is working to garner financial backing for schools, PursueHope works to establish vocational training institutions across Africa and other third-world countries. President of PursueHope Zach Phillips said his organization creates videos to distribute to various communities in Nigeria and other developing nations. A secular organization, he said churches often provide the distribution needed to reach struggle communities abroad. “Technically, we are a secular organization, but like it or not, churches are all over the world,” he said. “They’re excellent sources of distribution. Our main goal is just to get education out to those who don’t have it.” Including lessons in agriculture, water purification and sexual health, PursueHope aims to educate adults in developing countries to strengthen local economies and workforces. Maggie Jaruzel Potter, a board member of PursueHope, said basic health care is often lacking in African communities. She said through increased training, the availability of health care could increase. “Some of this is basic health care,” she said of the lessons. “So you don’t have to walk miles for health care, they can train people with the skills necessary to provide health care in their local communities.” Alicia Wolverton, a Flint resident present at the discussion, who has worked for community development abroad and in several American cities, said basic education of children can also strengthen the development of struggling communities. “With children learning math and science, and creative writing, they can think creatively and bring that kind of thinking back to their villages to solve agricultural problems and other issues they’re facing,” she said. Linden Mayor and UM-Flint director of Government Affairs David Lossing looked forward to several opportunities for sending faculty members to work in Nigerian schools. He said students in fields of education, health services and business management would benefit from the experience working in Nigeria. “If there’s a way we can link those experiences in an applied way, it could be very rich,” Lossing said. “It’s something we’ll have to explore. It’s just such a different culture than we’re used to. We take our infrastructure here for granted.” During his stay in Flint, Oladipupo preached at the Joy Tabernacle Church at 2505 North Chevrolet Ave., Thursday, July 24. He plans a second service, Sunday, July 27, at 11:30 a.m. “We’re an urban church, so for the urban community to meet an actual African king, they’re just blown away,” said Pastor Robert McCathern. “It’s helped our neighborhood realize that God has a key to every chapter of life. And it’s the first time he’s been in the ‘hood.” Original Article by Adrian Hedden for MLive Read More →

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