About 50 people from all parts of the UK converged on Coventry for FIGS Annual Supporters Meeting on Sat Nov 25 – and many of them voted it the most inspirational AGM yet, with some commenting: "a wonderful and very interesting day, thank you," "thank you to all for another most interesting, enjoyable and inspiring day," and "what an inspiring day it was! Isn't Bridget just a delight? I didn't see her stop smiling all day."
Nagomoro Bridget (who is studying at the Open University this year) kick started the day by describing her founding vision for the school, and how that vision has been translated into practice over the past 10 years – with help from literally hundreds of UK Friends.
A Skype call to Ibba (in spite of variable quality sound) allowed everyone in Coventry to hear direct from Headmaster Richard, Director of Studies Vicky, and from several of the other staff and students – who sang their appreciation of the Friendship !
Jean Hartley and Julia Sanders reported on their recent visits to Ibba (in July and November this year), on the encouraging conclusions from the Annual Developmental Review of the school carried out jointly with Vicky Dratia, and highlighting areas needing further development and improvement. Julia highlighted particularly the challenges of preparing IGBS for the first cohort to move up into secondary schooling in 2019.
The political economic and social crisis facing South Sudan was discussed by Dame Rosalind Marsden (FIGS Trustee and former UK ambassador to Sudan, and EU special envoy to Sth Sudan), David Masua (country director for Windle Trust Sth Sudan) and Dr Pamela Lomoro (FIGS Trustee). Their analysis was bleak, but Pamela encouraged hope by emphasising the power of education (especially of girls) to create the conditions for peaceful development in the future. This message was reinforced by Nyakor Riam who was not able to come because of her filming for Star Wars, but sent a Video of her TEDX Talk based on her experience as a child of the war in Sth Sudan and her commitment to campaigning as an inspirational ambassador for girls education.
John Benington, Gary Bandy and Cynthia Bower give brief progress reports on FIGS finances and fund-raising, and Chernise Neo invited everyone to become a Friend for Life for the girls at IGBS by signing up to a regular standing order; and to contribute to the Big Give Christmas campaign (See report below). A panel of three donors (Bev Thornley; Anne and Edward Hackford; and Sam and Anne Hood) explained movingly what had led them personally to commit to regular donations to FIGS
Finally, Mark Simmons (FIGS newly recruited CEO) led an inspirational and thought-provoking discussion about the opportunities and challenges facing FIGS over the coming year – which continued over a heart-warming candle-light supper.