By Damian Daga
Charity begins at home, so goes the saying and indeed, giving out to the needy is a great virtue worth imbibing by all and sundry. Towing this line, a Grade 12 student at the International School of Bremen in Germany, Miss Cheryl Mchivir Gbem was magnanimous to extend a helping hand across the Atlantic to the rustic and sleepy Ikpanor community of Shangev-Ya in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State.
It is pertinent to note that water is life and like the popular adage that “he who brings kola, brings life” so it is same as “he/she who brings water brings life” going by Miss Gbem’s outreach to the Ikpanor community. She tediously and painstakingly struggled, even as a student, to raise money to sink a borehole for the locals and today, they have potable drinking water – a social amenity they hitherto lacked.
The Voice gathered that Cheryl, as part of her school’s International Baccalaureate (IB), participated in a strand of IB called CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) which is one of the three essential elements in the International Baccalaureate (IB).
Accordingly, for her service in CAS which is supposed to have a duration of 18 months where students are expected to complete experiences or projects under Creativity, Activity and Service (CAS), she chose to raise money to do something for children in a community whose parents cannot afford the basic necessities of life, such as water. To raise money, she had to engage in bake sales.
She did monthly bake sales and called it “Cheryl’s Cakes & Company.”
In her words, she said: “Bake sales, in general, can get repetitive at times, so I wanted to do something extra-ordinary every month to get people’s attention. I knew if I did not have themes for the bake sales, then the bake sales would be boring and lack creativity. For each of my bake sales, I choose to bake and make snacks from one country or multiple countries depending on the situation and time period.”
She further said: “I have done in Germany where I made traditional cakes like Bienenstich, Schwarzwälder Kirsch Torte and Butterkuchen and much more then for the USA. I made brownies, cheesecake, apple cake, MNM cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes and much more. For Nigeria, I made puff-puff, buns, meat pies, fish rolls, doughnuts and a vanilla cake which I decorated using the colors of the Nigerian flag. The other countries were France, South America, Japan, Italy, and Central Africa.”
She further narrated that the programme provided her an opportunity to introduce people to new cultures around the world. However, she noted that she wasn’t able to continue because her school was closed for long periods of time, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
She enthused that her main motivation for wanting to do a project in Nigeria came from what she learned from her family at a very young age; that charity is important. “It is very crucial to support those in need of help. I came up with the idea and decided to use my CAS project for a special cause. My goal was to try and help at least one person in great need,” she stated.
“Initially, I had planned to donate three boreholes to three communities in Nigeria in great need of water. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, my project was cut shorter than anticipated. I am only able to donate one borehole with the money, I collected from the previous Bake sales before the pandemic,” she concluded.
However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, Cheryl could not make it to Nigeria to personally hand over the borehole to the community.
She was represented by her uncle, a Senior Staff of the Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi, Mr Barnabas Hemba who performed the ceremony. It was handed to Mr Dominic Abua Nongo, leader of the community.
Speaking, Mr Nongo thanked Cheryl for the gift, stating that it will be a source of their survival since they have suffered lack of potable water. He added that God Almighty should bless her for the donation.
A cross section of the community members, while also commending the provision of the water source said they have suffered from lack of water for too long and Cheryl’s donation would go a long way in easing their problem.
They maintained that women would no longer go far in search of water which will greatly enhance their livelihood, adding that female children should learn from Cheryl’s effort and embrace education so as to be useful to themselves and the society.