A Modest Tribute to Fiona Lovatt by Aliyu Wali

Fiona Lovatt is an inspiration (Read). She's a testimony that smallness of means is no excuse not to act and that such simple, yet sincere efforts can create ripple-effects that eventually leads to change. She teaches the reality that we mostly have all we need to make a difference, one step at a time.

When I first met her she was living in the inner parts of Kano city just inside the old city walls call 'ganuwa'. Hearing about her 'modest' effort working with the 'Almajirai' (plural of Almajiri) it seemed so surreal that a 'baturiya' (white woman) would travel thousands of kilometers from New Zealand to mentor these young boys.

Yet after meeting her I realized why it was so. Here was a person who saw potential where most of us saw hopelessness. She looked at the 'big picture' and zoomed in on the most critical factor which was to do her own part in making a difference rather than waiting, 'wailing' or walking away, she set out to create an example of transformation.

Today the young lads of 'Gidan Almajirai' have been able to get a 'functional education' while still gaining the traditional religious instruction. And this has triggered a continuous process of enrichment in the lives of the mentees who are now mentors! Also, out of such initiatives Fiona has equally reached out to internally displaced persons (IDP) to create a haven(s) for the vulnerable (children and women) with the collaboration of many Nigerians as well as members of other climes who pitched in their 'widow's mite'.

These have touched not only individual lives but those of the community and posterity will record that she touched the soul of our society. From Kano to Maiduguri, Niger and numerous other places across the country she continues to plant seeds that are germinating into vegetation that will benefit all.

And all of this from an initiative to distribute books (that's a story for another day)! For now let us not only salute this wonderful personality, but also take a cue by being a Fiona in our immediate environments. With a book in your hand and one step at a time, you will go places!

----Haidarwali 201701100659hrs

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