SARAH, serving husband Jeremy and children Lottie (17), Henry (16), Honor (13) and Felicity (3) tell us about their Army family life in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja…
How long have you been an Army family?
Scarily, 20 years.
Time in Nigeria:
How many other military families live in Abuja?
Only five, but there are quite a few families working with the British High Commission (BHC) and Department For International Development.
What’s your quarter like?
Our house is huge with a mango tree, avocado tree and giant tortoise in the garden. We are not on one of the ‘British Village’ compounds, but Abuja is not a big place so we can easily pop to one where there are pools, tennis courts and gyms.
Are there employment/training opportunities?
Local jobs would be more for the experience rather than financial gain as salaries are very low. There’s plenty of voluntary work with internally displaced people camps, orphanages or disabled children, for example. Jobs do come up regularly for spouses within the BHC too.
What about schools and childcare?
Schools are very good with high academic standards. There’s a great choice and British children are scattered amongst all the different schools. There’s plenty of childcare and many delightful local staff who have worked with British families for years. Although locally they are considered very well-paid, home help and babysitters are a lot cheaper here than in the UK.
Where do Army families get together?
There’s plenty to do and places to socialise, but the main place to be part of the wider British community is the British Village Inn. This has a bar serving basic food, a pool and tennis courts. There are regular social and sporting events from football and tennis tournaments to children’s swimming lessons, parties and concerts.
Who supports families?
Families are well supported by the British Military Advisory and Training Team and the BHC. The Community Liaison Officer (CLO) sweeps up new arrivals with welcomes, tours of the local shops and things to do, then arranges visits to amenities and attractions and answers any questions. The CLO role is often a job shared by spouses.
What’s the best thing about living in Abuja?
The extraordinary stories I will tell about it for the rest of my life, the delightful people and the weather – especially in January.
Would you recommend Nigeria as a family posting?
Definitely. This has to be a lesser known posting, but we have all loved it. My teenagers, who are all at boarding school, have enjoyed the small group who are here in the holidays. Most of their time is spent hanging out at the pool, but they also enjoy karting, gymnastics, paintballing and the cinema. My husband has loved working with the Nigerian military. I am a physiotherapist so have volunteered in a local clinic and my three-year-old probably just thinks she is a Nigerian.