For 10 years, Mrs Kwatsabta Uba has run Hyel Glory School at Karon Maijigi, on the outskirts of Abuja, almost as a charity. Several orphans and physically challenged children enjoy scholarships at Hyel each year.

Penultimate week, an angel in human form visited the school, and the helper of indigent children became a beneficiary of another charity. The angel, Rabbi Israel Uzan of Chabad Aid Nigeria, was sent by a French charity, The Kings of the World [Les Rois du Monde] Foundation.

Although Hyel now boasts about 300 pupils/students in nursery, primary and junior secondary schools, it had very humble beginnings: Mrs Uba started with three kids in 2009. She took the bold step after she was transferred out of a government school she had helped to improve greatly. But the leaders of the community wanted her to stay on, and, through their support (they offered land at a low price), Mrs Uba retired from the service and founded Hyel Glory School.

When Eyeway contacted Rabbi Uzan via WhatsApp, he explained that Chabad Aid provides support from Jewish communities from around the world, such as the Kings of the World Foundation. “We get funds from them and we give to Nigeria,” he said. “The sponsor of this project is Kings of the World Foundation. Chabad Aid is the manager of the project but the fund comes from Kings of the World whose president is Madame Stephanie Robert.”

The Jewish organisation’s Uzan was in the poor neighbourhood of Karon Maijigi, mid-July, to scout for a school that needed the foundation’s help. The gate of the first school he visited with his driver was locked; the second was closed and there was nobody to let them in. At Hyel, they found a security guard who welcomed them. Rabbi Uzan left a message for the proprietress, as she was not in the school then.

He returned that week to see Mrs Uba and to unveil the foundation’s goodies. The school owner was in tears as she listened to Uzan assuring her the school would be reconstructed and that money wouldn’t be a problem. He promised that the roofs of all two or three classroom blocks would be replaced and a laboratory would be equipped. There would be new windows, doors, ceilings, and so on and so forth.

As soon as the school closed for the session, work began on the site. Uzan had asked the school to invite builders to be hired, but when the local ones came he felt they wouldn’t be able to do the kind of job required.  And that’s how he contacted a friend of the Jewish community in Nigeria, Engr. Chisom Martins Igboko, managing director of GIF Group Ltd, to handle the project.

Work on the site was in progress when Eyeway visited on Monday. GIF Group had removed the roofs of two classroom blocks. The walls of another building had been plastered. Suppliers of cement, bricks, windows and doors were delivering their wares, and GIF Group’s construction workers were busy making pillars for the walls.

Teachers in Hyel still do not believe what their eyes are seeing. “This is nothing short of a miracle,” one told Eyeway. “Likely, the prayers of the handicapped who are on scholarship here are being answered.”

Hyel is not the first school that has benefitted from Chabad of Nigeria. And it will not be the last. ” By the grace of God, our next project is building a multi-sport stadium for special needs children in Kubwa,” Uzan said.

The full name of Hyel’s benefactor is Chabad Lubavitch of Nigeria and its website (JewishNigeria.com) says the word “Chabad” is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of chochmah (wisdom), binah (comprehension), and da’at (knowledge). Lubavitch, named for the town in White Russia where the movement was based for more than a century, means the “city of brotherly love.” The Chabad-Lubavitch movement was founded more than 250 years ago.

For its part, the French humanitarian, Les Rois du Monde, was started in 1901.

— Aniebo Nwamu

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