Life full of excitement for 10-year-old Rahamatu Blake

Published 12:20 am Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Blake Family in traditional Nigerian clothing

The Blake Family in traditional Nigerian clothing

For 10-year-old Rahamatu Blake, a fifth-grader at Bovina Elementary School, life has been full of adventure.
Rahamatu was born in Nigeria in a place called Jos where her family spent three and a half years while her father; Brad was a professor at a Bible school.
They then moved further north to Maiduguri.
Overall, they spent seven years in Nigeria.
Her parents, Jennifer and Brad Blake got married on Long Island in 1998 and went to Nigeria in 2001.
When they moved to Maiduguri they began humanitarian work. Blake said they started building medical clinics and drilling wells and created an organization called Arewa Aid, now called Hope Springs International.
Jennifer Blake said her father was a preacher and he went to Ghana.
“I fell in love with the stories he was telling me about Africa,” she said.
Her husband had already done an internship in Nigeria and when they got married they decided to do missionary work there.
The Blake’s had three of their four children in Nigeria and each of their names has meaning.
Rahamatu means, “God is Merciful” in Arabic. Her older brother, Ibrahim is a sixth-grader who is 12 years old. His name means Abraham. Blake said she named him that because in the bible it says that Abraham is the father of all religions and all people.
Her younger brother, Musa means Moses, and he is 8 years old and is in the third grade.
Her sister’s name is Imani, she is 5 years old and in kindergarten. She is the only Blake child that was not born in Nigeria. She was born in Nashville, Tenn., and her name means Faith.
Rahamatu said when they came back to the states in 2008, they thought they would only be visiting, however they ended up staying and left many things in Nigeria.
When her parents went back there this summer, they gathered up many things they left behind.
She said they brought back their baby blankets and each of them one of their stuffed animals.
“I have a little ratty torn up doll and a little blanket,” Rahamatu said.
While she doesn’t remember much of Nigeria because of her young age, Rahamatu said she does remember her adopted sister Keturah.
“There is a custom in Nigeria where if you can’t afford an education for your children you will find a family in the city you and ask them to take your child into the school,” Blake said.
Keturah was only 8 years old when she was taken in.
“She just became a part of our family,” she said.
Rahamatu said she has faint memories of her friends there, and her parents would tell her stories about when she was there.
“They would talk to us about the friends we had and what we would do. Musa would never wear a diaper,” she laughed.
Jennifer Blake said it is always a possibility that they will go back to Nigeria.
“I do miss it a lot. When you spend seven and a half years somewhere, you get very close,” she said.
Rahamatu has adapted to her school life here very well.
In Nigeria she went to the Ruby Model School, they would go outside in the hot sun for an hour and sing songs about doing your best.
Now that she’s here, she is very happy.
“I like it here. I like this school and I made better friends here than I have anywhere else,” she said.
The family stays very devoted to their faith and they attend The Church of Christ every Sunday in the morning and at night and every Wednesday night.
Brad Blake teaches AP and regular U.S. History at Warren Central High School along with AP European history.
“Her dad is an advanced placement teacher at the high school. He is very knowledgeable. Everyone wants to be in his class,” fifth-grade teacher at Bovina Teresa Kitchens said.
Kitchens said he is intelligent and challenges his students in a good way.
He is currently working on his dissertation, Rahamatu said. She said he wants to do it on the homeless boys in Africa.
While the family is very supportive of him, because of the violence in Africa right now, they are not sure they want him to go.
Kitchens said Rahamatu is very well rounded and kind.
“She always has something positive to say about everyone. She’s happy and very intelligent,” she said.
She will be joining the First Lego League soon along with her brother, Ibrahim. Kitchens said at Regional competitions the students must perform in three areas: Core Values, Project Innovation, and they must create a robot made of Legos with a computer brick in it and have it maneuver through objects.
Rahamatu said someday she thinks that she would like to go back to Nigeria.
The Blake family is a close-knit family according to Kitchens.
“I think they’re a lovely family. They’re sweet, kind and really try to help the children with school. They’re really involved,” she said.
She added that she thought they were a sweet group of people.

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