The phone call brought back hazy memories from our shared college days. I hadn’t known Francis Mustapha well in those days. But I knew he had an interesting story coming from Sierra Leone in the 1970s to attend Marion College.
We hadn’t spoken much over the years so when he asked to meet with me I wasn’t sure what to expect. The story he unfolded for me, and the pictures he showed me, left me speechless.
Francis and his wife, Bobbie, graduated from IWU in the 1970s and both taught school for 30-plus years – mostly in the Fort Wayne public schools. During his career, Francis received several national and state honors for teaching – including the prestigious Milken National Educator Award.
In September 2013, the Mustaphas fulfilled a life-long dream of opening a school in the village of Madina, Sierra Leone, where Francis was reared. At least once a year, Francis and Bobbie travel there to help get the school year off to a good start.
Here is a report on their most recent trip to the Madina Village School:
“Our trip was the shortest ever, but in three and a half weeks we were able to experience the school full of children and to hold in-service training for teachers on topics such as using Big Books, writing in the reading program, efficiency of time in the classroom and even the first basic lesson in how to use a computer.
“To do the computer session of the workshop we had to string power cords from a generator and had lights in one room of the building for the very first time. It brought great satisfaction for us two ‘techno-idiots’ to have had 20 staff members on nine computers for the evening without anything breaking down!
“Someday we hope to have solar panels on the roof to power some technology for the school. That is a project still in the dreaming stage.”
How much do the people in the small village appreciate the Mustaphas? Read on.
“The school held a surprise assembly welcoming us back. It was especially moving for Bobbie, who was presented with a special handmade gown and given a new name, Munjei (pronounced moon-jay), which means ‘our mother.’ The children all began using that name immediately, so now it feels like having 300 sons and daughters.”
Improved technology is not Sierra Leone’s most critical need, however.
“A nation is hanging in the balance,” Francis wrote. “There is a battle raging for the very soul of the Nation of Sierra Leone and many countries in Africa for that matter. We cannot lose the battle. It has to be fought on all fronts.”
As we navigate our way through the technology-dependent world in which we live, it is heartwarming to celebrate the accomplishments of Indiana Wesleyan University alumni toiling in areas of the world that are devoid of even basic technology.
We thank God for alumni such as Francis and Bobbie Mustapha who are serving on the frontlines.