Bring Peace to Africa
pg. 24 — lightandlifemagazine.com
By Jeff Finley
Phyllis Sortor’s 2015 abduction and release in Nigeria received significant coverage
from the international news media. The BBC, CNN, Daily Mail, Wall Street
Journal and Associated Press are no longer covering Sortor, but her important
work with the Fulani ethnic group continues through the organization Schools for Africa.
“The schools started when the government gave us grazing reserves to officially oversee
and manage for the Fulani,” said Sortor, an elder in the Free Methodist Church’s Pacific
Northwest Conference and the author of “The Kidnapping of an American Missionary,”
in an interview with LIGHT + LIFE. “When we reached there and met with the leaders,
they told us that there were no schools there at all.”
Their comment surprised Sortor because the government had stated that the region
had schools. The Fulani leaders took her to areas of trees and bushes where schools
supposedly were located.
“It’s not that the parents were blaming the government, but they were just bemoaning
the fact that all of their children needed an education, and they had no hope for it the way
things were going,” Sortor said. “We said, ‘Well, we would love to be able to work with you
if the government agrees to allow us to build schools for your kids,’
and they were just so happy about it. So we began and just built very
Each building had approximately five classrooms. Radio
advertisements attracted prospective teachers.
“We had both Muslims and Christians applying. We hired the
best, most qualified ones whether they were Christian or Muslim,”
Sortor said. “We have a mix, which is really good because our
Christian teachers are fabulous, and they are such good influence,
and they are getting along very well with the Muslim teachers. In
fact, the influence is winning souls.”
Schools for Africa now operates nine schools for Fulani children
in four states. The schools are accredited by the Nigerian government.
“The government is very happy with our schools,” Sortor said.
“We have children coming from nearby towns to come to our schools
rather than attending the local schools in their towns, because our
kids are doing so well on their tests.”
Retired teachers from the United States have traveled to Nigeria
to host reading workshops for the schools’ teachers.
“This has really upped the standard of education that the Fulani
children and farmers’ children are receiving,” she said.
Sortor retired from serving as a Free Methodist World Missions
missionary in 2016 and became the director of Schools for Africa,
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