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Corps Member Spurs New Reading Culture With School Library Project (Pictures)

By Emily Ogah



Corps Member, Mary James, rebuilds library from ruined building in village school

Ms Mary James, a Natonal Youth Service Corps (NYSC) corps member has redefined the essence of community development associated with the scheme with her revolutionary project in rehabilitating a school library in the school where she served.

Ms James had been posted to Government Day Secondary School, Swa, Talasse, in Balanga Local Government Area of Gombe State where she picked up the gauntlet of living a legacy through the rehabilitation of the school library where she was posted for primary assignment.

Ahead of her passing out in June, 2024, she spoke in an exclusive interview with GWG’s Emily Ogah:


Who exactly is Mary James?

My name is Mary James. I’m from Adamawa State. I studied library and Information Science, at the University of Abuja. I came for NYSC orientation camp in July 2023 and started serving in August.

I served at Government Day Secondary School Swa, Talasse, Balanga Local Government Area of Gombe State. I was also assigned to teach civic education to SS1 and SS2 students.

How did you feel when you discovered your place of primary assignment (PPA) is in a village?

Hmmm…. To be honest, I  wasn’t too disappointed because I just wanted to see where NYSC will take me. Though I wanted a place where I could be more professional, I wanted to be in a place where I could be understood, but my community wasn’t civilized at all. 

Especially when I started teaching. It was frustrating at first, because students were not assimilating due to language barrier. 

So, I was only disappointed at the Local Government. The lodge where corps members live is very terrible, unsecured, with cracked walls, just open for anyone to come in.

There were times when mentally ill people came into the lodge and did some discomforting things.

I was also discouraged by the fact that I had to stay one year without electricity. So, aside these factors, I was a bit okay at the village.

What inspired you to build a library amidst the discouraging environment you were posted to?

When I started teaching my students, I noticed they were struggling to understand English and to speak; struggling to get the right source of information for their assignments, and struggling because they lacked the right atmosphere and right books to boost their educational opportunities. 

I also observed from the students’ behavior that they wanted to learn because some showed eagerness, while some showed consistency with their attendance.

And I also noticed they had a library but was in a terrible condition; books were deteriorating, the building was dilapidated and inaccessible. It had all manner of things stored in it. It was like an abandoned building with materials and other school records in them. So, with these, that’s when I was burdened to get the library fixed and reachable to the students.

What were the challenges you faced in the journey of bringing the project to reality?

I faced several challenges starting with facing a lot of discouragement from people. Secondly, I faced financial challenges. I told myself that N200,000 was going to get my library project done, but after getting the workers to run proper estimates, I realized we ran through millions of naira just for these projects.

I didn’t know how I was going to get about N200,000 let alone N3,000,000. 

So, I started talking with some people outside my community, for funds, but the responses were not encouraging.

Thirdly, I faced water problems. Getting water for the plaster was not easy or quick. When the staff room was plastered, due to lack of water, its flooring cracked. 

Lastly, the most discouraging challenge I faced was seeing the project on hold for 2 months. That was the moment I started giving up entirely and I didn’t bother writing reports to NYSC anymore.

How did you get the funds?

My major sources of income for the library were from the sons of Waja land, friends, and family.

I met with the King of Waja land, HRH. Mohammed Danjuma Mohammad (Bala Waja) who gave me a list of sons and daughters of Waja land. Hon. Mr. Manu Yusuf Swa was among the other dignitaries who donated.

My most influential support was Hon. Yusuf Manu Swa. He invisibly held my hand through, from start to finish. He organized, held, and sponsored meetings at his house severally. He called the donors on the list given to me by the King, by himself. Doing so himself gave me a chance with the donors.

Names of donors: HRH. Alh. Mohammad Danjuna Mohammed, Hon. Yusuf Manu Swa, Alh. Abdullahi Garba Talasse

Hon. Alh. Musa Buba, Hon. Col. Abdullahi Bello (rtrd), Barr. Indri Musa Kulani

Mal. Salisu Ibrahim Nagodi, Hon. Adamu Abubakar Degri, Mr. Yahaya Melton Sundu

Alh. Nasiru Adamu Degri, Hon. Yusuf Jidda, Dr. Umar Wanda, Alh. Nuhu Usman

Mr. Abdulmumini Ari, Mr. Abdullahi Yaro and PTA.

It is important to note that I didn’t  get the funds at once.  I got half of the financial requirements, I also got half of the other resources just to start half of the work.

How did you overcome the challenges you highlighted?

Well, I had to buy extra cement to redo the cracked floors.

I had to go back to pray to God to open opportunities for my donors and myself, to complete the project.

I also had to meet friends and family to speak to them about the library project and I was encouraged by them. There was a day when Hon. Yusuf Manu Swa talked with me and encouraged me, reminded me of what he told me about starting and completing my project. And from these instances, I felt encouraged and resumed work.

What was the reaction of the community and your principal after the completion of the library project?

The reaction was priceless. I saw joy, satisfaction, and gratitude from their simple smiles. 

My students began to ask me if they would have to pay before using the library. 

They also asked if they could go in for their assignments, etc. My principal was all happy and proud. Which made him introduce me to their PTA chairman and other people. reports that the rebuilt library was successfully commissioned on Monday, with politicians, school community, Local Government Inspector and other members of the village.

The Local Government Chairman, Hon. Garba Umar, appreciated her effort and acknowledged that “no Corper in the history of Balanga has done any C.D.S. project.”

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