A Woman to Celebrate

Here is a woman to celebrate on International Women’s Day: my good friend Bilkisu.

This young woman is a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a wife, a mother (seen here with her little guy), and – you guessed it – a student presently studying Law at a university in Taraba State. She is extremely intelligent and gifted, and though her education to this point (i.e. her elementary and high school) has not been of the highest quality, she is putting her talents to good use and is engaged on a program of studies designed to help all of her people.

Why the law? Here in Canada and the US we have funny jokes about lawyers – and over in Nigeria they always get the joke! But the study of law is still important for Christians and especially for women.

In Manitoba when we got home from Nigeria in 2008 we discovered that our church had been shafted – literally! There was a huge hole in our foyer floor that was built for an elevator shaft, but with no elevator to go in it, because the contractor had not fulfilled his part of the contract. I decided that it was in line with our Christian ethos to contact a lawyer (a good guy, living in Winnipeg), and he was able to help us out of the jam post-haste.

In Nigeria almost the first thing I heard from my Fulbe friends was the need for “Human rights.” Not just Fulbe people, but people from all different people groups there regularly have their legal rights trampled upon – as I also did on some of my trips through the country. This is able to happen because people are ignorant of the law, and have no idea what their “rights” really are.

This is especially true for women there, who are less well-educated, and are often the target of unscrupulous villains (I am not exaggerating here, but do not have time to elaborate).

Bilkisu wants to change that.

Her great dream is to become a full-fledged lawyer, and help her people through the legal process there. It is questionable whether she will be able to realize that particular dream – the issue of resources is standing in her way. My wife and I have been helping her a bit through school, but the costs for law school are inordinate obstacles to her, and our, resources. So she is earning her law diploma for now, learning the rudiments of Nigerian Law, so that she can go back to her communities and talk to the women there (as no male lawyer ever could), and educate them in their rights and freedoms in the country.

Bilkisu starts eight days of exam writing tomorrow (March 8th). Say a little prayer for her, if you will, that she will be able to articulate well the things she has learned, and will do well in coming days. Circumstances dictate that she is sacrificing time with her family while she studies (during the school year she lives in a city in the north, while they are further south in a small village), so pray too that she will not be lonely or discouraged during this time. If you would like to know you can help her out financially, send me a note and I will let you know.

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