A church is people stuck together by love

Zander and Joshua

Zander and Joshua

Church in Uba by Zander Willoughby

Last Sunday, while staying at Kulp Bible College near Kwarhi, Adamawa State, Nigeria, Joshua, my travelling companion, and I got up and headed to church in Uba, Joshua’s home church. The road on which EYN headquarters and KBC sit is, by Nigerian standards (especially Adamawa State) fairly good, meaning that you can drive in a fairly straight line and not spend the whole time driving from ditch to ditch to avoid the potholes. This road, however, sings. The road has a slight hum to it. Our driver for the week, Bulus, told us that the road now sings because, during the insurgency, Boko Haram drove a huge APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier) down the road as they ransacked the area of Maraba Mubi and crushed the layers under the road.

The drive to Uba takes about 15 minutes (it would be 10 if it weren’t for all the military checkpoints). We turned down a dirt road squeezed between to walls and spent another five minutes or so weaving between goats, huts, compounds, and potholes. One the way back to the church, I saw my first monkey outside of a zoo!!!

Old church - Mufa A

Old church – Mufa A

When we got to the church, L.C.C. Mufa A, the people outside were very excited to have a guest visit with them. We walked into the church compound and saw what was probably the most bittersweet sight of my trip. On the right side of compound was a pile of rubble around a cement slab, what used to be L.C.C. Mufa A. On the left side was a building that, if it wasn’t Sunday and full of people, I’d assume was a pole barn. This is the new L.C.C. Mufa A. The bitter part is obvious, the sweet part was what happened inside. We were welcomed graciously inside (in true Nigerian fashion, we arrived late) and it was insisted that we sit right up front by the pulpit. They asked me to introduce myself and tell everyone why I was there. I told them that I was there to experience the resilience of the EYN church in such trying times and to extend a loving hand from the Church of the Brethren in America. Joshua translated it into Hausa for me.

New chruch - Mufa A

New chruch – Mufa A

If you’d been sitting in that worship service, you’d never know that we were sitting a few feet from their burned out church. Their tied together poles and scrap sheet metal might as well have been marble pillars. They sing with their heart. The sound of their drums filled the room and probably carried all the way back to Kwarhi. I was told later that the sermon was very good. I barely understand any Hausa, so I spent the sermon time reading through the Sermon on the Mount, wondering how Jesus would preach on non-violent resistance to today’s terrorism. Since many of the churches can’t afford to pay their pastors full salary, they had a special offering after the service for the pastor and his wife to give them gifts and blessings. It was a beautiful scene with love and support for all. In the end, a church isn’t a collection of bricks stuck together by mortar. A church is people, stuck together by love.​

Worship Time

Worship Time

Healing continues in Chibok

Trauma Workshop in Chibok

Trauma Workshop in Chibok

The disaster ministry of Ekklisiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) includes a Peace/Trauma division. This group of 13 trained facilitators holds Trauma workshops throughout North East Nigeria and at various Internally Displaced Person camps.

On June 9th-11th, 4 such workshops were held in the Chibok area. [After the abduction of the 276 Chibok girls in April 2014, the area has been the target of  repeated attacks.] The parents of the Chibok girls have suffered greatly over the past two years. The workshops have been very successful in teaching about trauma. The program provides education on the effects of trauma and gives ways to break free of the trauma, emphasizing the role of forgiveness.

The results of these workshops has been amazing! Here are some quotes about the healing provided by the Chibok workshops:

“It helped me because when I came to this workshop I was holding resentment against a particular person. But because of this workshop I have forgiven him.”

“Everyday my heart used to be very heavy with sadness but since I had this teaching I feel OK by God’s grace.”

“Since when you started teaching us about this trauma healing, my heart is healed of some problems. Before I could not sleep but these two days I slept very well. I am one of those that their daughter was taken away by Boko Haram and because of this important teaching of trauma healing, I will help others also.”

We continue to pray for the “Chibok girls” and for their parents and relatives. May forgiveness and non-retaliation continue as the core of our response.

The fine work of the Peace/Trauma division of EYN has not gone unnoticed. Last month the leader, Effraim Kadala, was a recipient of the Michael Sattler Peace Prize in Germany. He spent six weeks in Germany and Switzerland; speaking about the plight in Northeast Nigeria and about his peace work with Christians and Muslims.

Children’s Trauma Training in Nigeria: a huge success

Leaders Kathy Fry-Miller and John Kinsel with Participants of the training

Leaders Kathy Fry-Miller and John Kinsel with Participants of the training

Fourteen women theologians including our host Suzan Mark, Women’s Ministry Director for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN), attended the two-day training on trauma healing for children.

Day 1 of training was spent learning to know each other and learning about how people

Training time

Training time

respond to trauma and how to support resilience. The group was then presented with the Healing Hearts Curriculum that consists of nine sessions based on the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, with accompanying Bible stories from “Shine On: A Story Bible.”

Participants received a small version of the Kit of Comfort that CDS volunteers use with children who are affected by disasters, with art materials, bean bags, and beautiful hand-made dolls and animals that Church of the Brethren congregations and individuals across the country created for this work.

Day 2 was spent completing the nine sessions and planning for the afternoon practicum at Favored Sisters school and orphanage. The practicum work was enthusiastically received by the children, as well as the trainers.

Reflections

Kathy Fry-Miller

All of the women in our training group have been affected by the violence of the Boko Haram. They all had to flee at some point, some many times. They have taken other families into their homes; they have taken children/orphans into their homes. They have responded to the crisis with compassion and faith. These women were inspiring to us. They have found amazing ways to cope with crisis through their love of God, through music, prayer, showing compassion, and being helpers.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to travel to Nigeria and work with the wonderful people we met! Such gracious hospitality! Our relationships were full of friendship, warmth, joy, compassion. It really was a life-changing experience.

John Kinsel:

My biggest take-away was the strength, intelligence, hospitality, love and resilience of the Nigerian folks we met.  I have never experienced such pure integration of faith in my life, and it left me amazed, humbled and challenged.  The training itself, as I’ve been telling folks, couldn’t have gone better, due primarily to the receptiveness of the women theologians.  We had designed the presentation to be emergent versus didactic, and boy did it emerge via the insightful, energetic and hungry response from the women.  They took it all in, made it their own and, during their “practicum” at Favored Sisters School, demonstrated a capacity for loving connection with the children that left us awe-struck.  So many stories emerge from this experience, but they can be summed up by saying that I am convinced that children’s lives were changed that day!  The continuity and sustaining of this work is assured by the strength of these amazing women.  We were pleased also to meet with representatives from the Mennonite Central Committee who, while disappointed they had not been a part of the training, were enthusiastic about finding something that could feed their newly recognized awareness of the need to address the trauma of children, as well as adults.  They challenged us to adapt the curriculum to be appropriate for Christians and Muslims alike and Kathy and I have accepted that challenge.  Our vision is that this work can expand and provide psychological comfort to many children.

Children at the Practicum

Children at the Practicum

A Child holds her drawing

A Child holds her drawing

Stories from the Practicum

One little girl (under age 2) started screaming and ran away when one of the trainers was on the ground during the dramatization of the “Good Samaritan”. She thought it was a dead body.

One group did the session, “hunger and thirst for righteousness” which included making an origami paper cup, bringing a stone to leave at the “altar” in the cup, and taking a piece of sweet bread back with them. They sang, “Come, bring your burdens to God” as they did this. The trainer said, “The children needed something like that. They immediately learned the song. They immediately did the dramatic experience, bringing their burdens, leaving them, and taking the sweet bread. They feel burdens. They put their trust in God. One girl said that she knows now that she can carry her burden to God and remove that burden from her.”

One girl told her trainer, “When we fled from Boko Haram, I prayed that God would never forgive them. Now I will pray that God will forgive Boko Haram.”

One group did the activity where they held dolls/stuffed animals and sang “Jesus loves me”.

One of the directors at the Favored Sisters School said, “Some of these children will never, never forget that you came to us today.”

One little girl told her trainer, “You. You are my mother, because my mother is not here.” The trainer was so touched that even after a short 45 minute session, they bonded with these precious children. Another trainer said that children told her, “They were so happy, it was as if they had seen their parents.”

Response after the training

Suzan (Director of Women for EYN)

“I’ve been getting calls during our session, people who heard about this and have children who are traumatized and need help.Our future generations will live to tell stories about how the Church of the Brethren came to them.”

Suzan, a couple days later,

“I’ve been getting so many texts, calls, and emails from the women theologians over the past two days. They are so excited about doing this work.”

“I saw three children last evening walking around. I was showing them some pictures on my phone. They saw the picture of me standing by my car that was burned out, and asked about it. I told them the story of the Good Samaritan. I gave them paper to draw someone who has helped them. They each were so thoughtful, then they drew someone. Each one of them had someone in mind to draw. They told me the stories of their pictures and who helped them.”

One of the trainers said, “I went to school before, but here I REALLY went to school.”

(Information and pictures for this report wer provided by Kathy Fry-Miller, Associate Director Children’s Disaster Ministries)

Pastor puts Peace in Practice

Norm and Carol Waggy

Norm and Carol Waggy

Contributed by Norm & Carol Waggy

Several days ago during a break at Majalisa, a pastor handed Norm a picture of 8 members of his congregation who were killed by Boko Haram, along with pictures of his church and parsonage which were also destroyed last year.  We had listened several weeks ago as he shared some of his experiences, but we had not found the time to return for a second visit.  He wanted us to see, as well as to hear, of his congregation’s suffering.  He related that the EYN Nassarawo church had outgrown its facility, so a new church and parsonage were built just 1 year prior to the destruction of all three by the Boko Haram.

Nassarawo church members who were killed

Nassarawo church members who were killed

Norm asked him if he found it hard not to hate those who caused the damage.  Without hesitation, he responded, “No, the Bible makes It clear that we are to love our enemies, so I cannot hate them.”  He went on to tell that the 2 men who destroyed the structures were found to be his neighbors.  When the police captured them, they asked him “Pastor, what shall we do with these men?”  He responded that as a Christian, he did not want the police to kill them, but rather to set them free.  He noted that “even though the two are still Muslim, I know that Islam does not condone such violence.  Boko Haram is just a fanatical, fringe hate group that does not follow God.”  Later one of the two helped to clean up the burned buildings.  Our EYN brother said “Remember, God CAN turn ANYONE around.”  In a sermon at Majalisa, we were reminded that even the apostle Paul started out as one who hated and killed Christians!  There is always hope for each child of God, so we must be careful not to hate them.

Nassarawo:  Destroyed church

Nassarawo: Destroyed church

Emir of Kano and the Boko Haram

Emir of Kano holds #bringbackourgirls poster

Emir of Kano holds #bringbackourgirls poster

by Carl Hill

This week the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, is reported to have warned Nigeria and the world that starvation in northeast Nigeria could be a reality due the destruction caused by Boko Haram. In an article from Nigeria’s NAIJ.com, the Emir is quoted as saying, “More children from Borno State may die as a result of famine.” He believes that Borno State, maybe the hardest hit by Boko Haram, in the northeast, is so devastated that food will soon be the biggest issue there. “If things continue as they are,” the Emir continued, “then we may soon start seeing the children of Borno like the pictures of those children we used to see in Ethiopia who were dropping dead on the streets, dying of hunger.”

This is a shocking disclosure, coming from one of the major leaders of the Muslim faith in Nigeria. The Emir of Kano, former head of the country’s Central Bank, spoke from Lagos at a meeting of the University of Lagos’ Alumni lecture over the weekend. Kano is located in northern Nigeria and the city is the second largest one in Nigeria following Lagos. The Emir is considered the second highest ranking Muslim cleric in the country. He has been standing against the violent tactics of Boko Haram for some time. He had urged former President, Goodluck Jonathan, to deal more aggressively with Boko Haram.

This public statement against the Islamic insurgent movement has placed him in direct opposition to many political forces in Nigeria that are suspected of secretly backing the radical Islamists in the northeast. A few other Muslim opponents of the Boko Haram have been eliminated over the last few years for taking strong stands against the Boko Haram. In 2014, the Emir of Gwoza was assassinated by Boko Haram gunman as he drove to a funeral. Two other Emirs were in the same convoy but escaped without injury. In January of 2013, the most influential Muslim in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto, dodged an assassination attempt by Boko Haram. The Sultan was protected by his body guard and driver who died in the failed attempt on the Sultan’s life.

The Emir of Kano sees the Boko Haram as the unlawful terrorists that they are. Now, because the government of Nigeria has let the violence persist for too long, he sees other problems emerging that the government will have to deal with. The people of northeast Nigeria are an agricultural people. Subsistence farming has been their way of life for a very long time. The Emir stated, “There is no farming, no fishing and no industry in Borno State. The vast majority of people of Borno wake up to eat breakfast and not sure of where to eat again for the rest of the day.”

Church of the Brethren’s Nigeria Crisis Response is trying to get seeds and other farm materials into the hands of the people of southern Borno and northern Adamawa State this planting season. Together with the EYN Disaster Team, led by Reverend Yuguda Mdurvwa, Church of the Brethren funds are going to purchase these much needed supplies so that the people can plant this Spring and harvest in the Fall. “We are trying to provide the people with something so they can begin to help themselves,” said Carl Hill, co-Director of the Church’s response. “As we can see, the Nigeria crisis in the northeast is not over. It is only entering a new and equally critical phase. Our prayer is that the Church in the US can continue to help.”

We are grateful to the Emir of Kano for speaking out and making us aware of the potential problems that still persist in northeast Nigeria. Jay Wittmeyer, Executive Director of the Church Global Mission and Service, is working on a national Peace Conference that will be hosted by Church of the Brethren along with our sister church EYN. As this Peace Conference is being organized we would like to include the Emir of Kano as he is an important person to be included in this ground breaking work.

Fadimatu

by Markus Gamache

Markus and Janada

Markus and Janada

Wagga was taken over by Boko Haram militant group in July 2014.  Many families both Christians and Muslims were taken hostage.  Wagga had experienced kidnapping of children and women even before the Boko Haram took over the village. Some Muslims were in support of the rule of Boko Haram but they did not believe the Boko Hamam’s mode of Islamic worship. Fadimatu Garba is a Muslim lady who hailed from Uvaha in Borno State but got married to Mallam Garba Ahmadu from Madagali. They were blessed with 10 children 8 of which are still living. Fadimatu saw the butchering of her husband and two brothers right before her very eyes.

Fadimatu

                            Fadimatu

Fadimatu shared her story with me last night. She said a huge amount of money, arms and brain washing was used to initiating young men and women into the Boko Haram group.  The contract of belonging to the group is sealed when you kill your own blood i.e. father, mother, brother or best friend.  You must also organize a gang rape on your mother if you are a man before killing her. This act does not portray Islam but again they always chant Allahu’akbar for every gunshot or during a mass movement on the street.

Her whole family lived in the village under the leadership of Boko Haram. When the military took back the village, the local guards of the village (called the vigilante group) attempted to clear the village of those families that lived with the Boko Haram. Two of Fadimatu’s brother-in-laws were killed.  Other Christians and Muslims families were also killed.  (The brain behind such killings by the vigilante was not to allow men that stayed and acquired the Quran education from Boko Haram to be part of the new community. They believed that they were part of the Boko Haram militant group and they may continue to spread the ideology when people go back to those villages in order to start a new life.  Another reason may be the anger by the Christian survivors who felt betrayed and cheated by their Muslim brothers took revenge.) Right after the military and vigilante group removed those present during the occupation of the Boko Haram, the militant group came at night and attacked the village again to retaliate for the killings. This final attack by the Boko Haram caused even more harm on the village of Wagga because many people were exhausted and had no strength at all to run to safety in the nearby bush so most of their children and wives were lost (captured) to the Boko Haram.

Fadimatu Garba had been sick; she was suffering from fibroids even before the Boko Haram took over the village.  She had lived for more than a year without medical care and became very sick from additional health issues.  Being traumatized, living a stressful life without much food and without a husband to help, she decided to re-locate where she could find some help.  She left the village to locate her brother Usman who is a staff with COCIN Church.  Her hope and prayers was to meet her brother for medical treatment, she was advised by the villagers to locate me (Markus Gamache) instead.  It was believed that since I am working with a Church I must know where her brother who also worked for Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) might be.  I had never met Fadimatu or her husband in my life but she was determined to reach a place where she could get medical and psychological help. Fadimatu left Wagga on Sunday 22nd November 2015 headed for Yola – not knowing that Yola was about seven hundred kilometers away from Jos where I live.

First day in Yola.  She arrived in Yola at about 3.00pm but she had nowhere to go, no phone and she knew no person that could take care of her.  She was offered a place to sleep in the motor park under harsh weather.

During her second day in Yola, she continued looking for me.  Someone took her to a market in other to get in touch with Muslim tribal men.  She found one person who sold meat at the market to help her not knowing that he was just trying to get rid of her.  He took her to a cross road where he told her to stand and  that soon she would see her brothers passing by.

The second day, Fadimatu continued to ask people, “Where is Markus Gamache?”  Pastor Maiva from EYN Church in Yola was on his way to the mechanic garage to repair his broken car when he heard Fadimatu asking people on how to locate me in Yola instead of Jos.  So the pastor interviewed her to ascertain how genuine she was.  Pastor Maiva found out that she really needed help.  He came to her aid, found a place for her to stay overnight, paid for her food and called me.  I spoke to her via his telephone but I was at a loss  because I had no idea who she was. I agreed to allow her continue her journey to Jos.  Pastor Maiva paid for her transportation and other immediate needs. The commercial driver was kind to call me on their arrival to Jos. Pastor Maiva did not mind about her religion (Muslim) but treated her as a sheep needing a shepherd.  He knew that she was a Muslim but he followed Christ’s command to “Feed his sheep.” I went to the motor park to take her to my home and only proved I was the right person by communicating in our shared language.

First evening and night in Jos.  Fadimatu arrived in Jos at about 4.30pm on Tuesday, she arrived at my house and she met my mother where both of them were surprised to see each other after such a long time. My mother now had a Muslim sister to pray together in the house. It was another night of hearing about people that were killed during and after the attack.  Wagga village is still experiencing some secret and mysterious killings on a weekly basis.  There are no men staying overnight at the village but even during the bright day when people work on their small farms in groups there are attacks by unknown people.

Challenges in her visit. On the second day of Fadimatu’s visit in Jos, the young men that are still staying with me brought me a frightening message. They testified that Fadimatu and her husband were the first family that hid Boko Haram in the village even before the final takeover of the village by the group.  They met me with the request to please relocate her to another place because they do not think she is here for treatment or help. To the young men, Fadimatu was a suspect and they pleaded with me to please hasten the process of finding her brother and taking her away.  One among the young men suggested searching her small bag to see if she was a spy or carrying anything harmful.  As a human being I was totally heartbroken by their response. Even though I know that in a time like this it is dangerous to welcome an unknown woman with a head covering into your house, I believe in the spirit of interfaith that the church premises is a place where people could come and find peace, hope and encouragement.  I can never fully protect myself and my family but God is in ultimate control.

Fadimatu needs our prayers.  Janada, my wife, and my mother are trying their best to make her feel at home and perform her Sallah as when due and move around.  My effort to trace her brother is still on but nothing is happening toward his whereabouts.  Fadimatu went to the hospital for several days for treatment and was then admitted. She is suspected to have a cervical cancer.  She is now been referred to teaching hospital in Jos for more screening.  Up to now nobody has come to see her and she is being taken care of by Janada at our home.  We will take care of her hospital checks by tomorrow.

Conclusion: We are lucky to have found Fadimatu but there are many small children on the street without parents, widows without care and families without help.  Places like Madagali and Gwoza are still not very accessible to volunteers who want to offer first aid. Even in Yola, Mubi, Michika, Chibok, Askira, Bama and other places in Yobe and Borno people are suffering.  The Federal Government, International NGOs and Local NGOs are trying to reach to remote places but they are still not accessible. One is not free to walk or travel at night.  I personally do not know how true the reports from media and government are but by hearing from the horse’s mouth we know that there are still places that are not fully liberated from the terrors.

The Leftovers – Widows and Children

By Janet Crago

Many Nigerian widows and children are having a very difficult time adjusting to their new family situation, and “moving on” with their lives.  They’re often left feeling like “leftovers”.  But, let me explain.  Like widows in many places, they often don’t know what to do to survive, and in Nigeria, they often find themselves begging for help with their living situation and/or begging for money for the education of their remaining children.  Many of the men and boys have been killed.  Boko Haram doesn’t kidnap men.  The men are slaughtered (i.e., throats cut).  Sometimes they’ll even slaughter small boys.  They only kidnap women and children.  They’re the “leftovers” in this conflict.

Dr. Rebecca Dali

Dr. Rebecca Dali

As I talked to Rebecca Dali, who started the non-profit organization CCEPI (Center for Caring, Empowerment and Peace Initiatives), she told me that she’s recorded the names of over 10,000 widows who are the result of the Boko Haram insurgency.  Many of them are very young, and almost all of them have multiple children, with very few boys still living.  So, what are some of the problems faced by those newly widowed? —

  • Virtually all of them live in poverty, and struggle daily to have enough to eat.
  • Many have inadequate shelter.  If they’re still living in their home area, most houses have been burned.  If they’re displaced, they might need to go to a refugee camp or live with relatives.  Traditional culture in Nigeria dictates that when a man dies his property becomes the property of the deceased man’s family, so the widow often cannot go back to the house she was living in even if it is still standing.  Also, if a widow remarries, her children that were born from the marriage with her late husband now become the “property” of her deceased husband’s family.  Unfortunately, children inherited in this way are sometimes abused, treated as house servants, and get very little education.
  • If a woman manages to escape from Boko Haram and returns to her husband, she is sometimes rejected even by him.  He can refuse to allow her back into her previous home.  Even if he allows her to come back, sometimes his family will reject her and make her life miserable (i.e., she is now a “spoiled” woman!).
  • Physically, the women who manage to escape from their Boko Haram kidnappers frequently come back home savaged and very thin.  If they refused to convert to Islam, they were not allowed to eat until everyone else had their fill, which meant they very often went away hungry.  The food and supplies furnished in the Boko Haram camps were stolen from villages they’ve invaded and destroyed.  But, the women of the Boko Haram will not even share the necessary products for cleanliness, so any woman who escapes will come back very dirty.

The purpose of CCEPI is to assist women who became widows because of Boko Haram.  CCEPI helps them learn skills to be able to live on their own, and operates a livelihood center where they teach knitting, sewing, livestock farming, and computer skills.  They also have a department that assists widows who have been the target of gender based violence, an education department which assists widows and their children with school fees for the primary or secondary school of their choice, and a child protection department that takes care of orphans and displaced children.  The children are assigned a guardian who ensures that they’re taken care of.  CCEPI also has a Health department where widows can purchase common drugs.  CCEPI also teaches sanitation skills and helps to provide shelter for the shelter-less.

ZME - Women's Ministry

ZME – Women’s Ministry

But, CCEPI is not alone in these efforts.  Widows are also getting help from the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (known as the EYN).  EYN now has a Director of Women’s Ministry, Suzan Mark Zira, who has started a very important ministry for the assistance of widows.  Each DCC Secretary (District Church Council), and the Women’s Leader in that district, make a list of the widows in their district who need assistance.  When this is done, the Women’s Ministry has planned a four-step process to help them.  This four-step process is:

  1. Provide emergency relief assistance as needed
  2. Conduct Trauma Healing Workshops where needed
  3. Enable Skill Acquisition – The purpose is to enable them to earn enough money to live on their own.  The Women’s Leader in each district is first trained in how to make the following products:  liquid soap, Vaseline, room deodorizer, perfume, shampoo, Dettol (liquid antiseptic), and Izal (bleach).  She then teaches the widows in her district how to make these products.  Each are taught a different product so they don’t need to compete against each other.
  4. Provide money to start their businesses – Each widow is given just 2,000 Naira ($10) to start their business.  They are also given the first products that they will sell.  This gives each of them a start for their business.

To ensure that the money given to the women reaches its destination, the Women’s Leader from the district must sign for the money she will give to the widows in her district.  Then the individual widows must sign when they receive it from the Women’s Leader of her district.

Widows (picture courtesy of EYN)

Widows (picture courtesy of EYN)

The Women’s Ministry has also given a very important Project Management workshop.  They call the Women’s Leader, the Women’s Secretary, and the Women’s Treasurer from each district to come to a training workshop to teach them how to write reports so the Women’s Ministry can receive regular updates on what’s happening in each DCC.  They’re also being trained on accountability and transparency, leadership and mentoring, and the ministry guidelines for a woman ministering to others.

This Women’s Ministry Program was established in the last six months.  There are currently two women serving full-time in this ministry.  They’re facing the following challenges:

  • They don’t have a vehicle to transport the various ingredients they need to take to leaders who will then train others to make the products mentioned earlier.
  • They don’t have adequate staff to accomplish their goals.
  • They lack a stove for the preparation of their products.
  • They need dedicated paid Women’s Ministry staff at the DCC level.

 

Education Must Continue Initiative is changing the statistics

Logo for EMCI

Logo for EMCI

Education for children in Northeast Nigeria has suffered immensely. Here is a description of the problems from an article in International Business Times.

Destroying Nigeria’s Children – Before Boko Haram launched its brutal insurgency in northeast Nigeria six years ago, the region recorded the lowest school enrollment rate in the country, especially for girls, as well as the lowest level of literacy and highest incidence of poverty. The insurgency has exacerbated the situation. Over half a million children in northeast Nigeria have had to flee to safety in the past five months, bringing the total number of displaced children in the conflict-torn region to 1.4 million, the United Nations said in September. More than 208,000 of them are not in school.

But the NGO, Education Must Continue Initiative, refuses to let these statistics stand. They are working hard to get the children back in schools. Here are some pictures(by Jay Wittmeyer and Roy Winter) from a recent visit to one of their temporary school in Yola.

Makeshift classrooms

Makeshift classrooms

Teachers at the Yola temporary school

Teachers at the Yola temporary school

School in a tent donated by Unicef

School in a tent donated by Unicef

More tentative classes

More temporary classes

Violence and Suffering Become a Way Life

This was a good article (link below) highlighting what it is like to live long term under chaos and violence. Sadly, life goes on and people adapt to a new normal. Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. 

Market scene in Nigeria

Market scene in Nigeria

QUOTE from the article (see link below):

“Just a few weeks ago a suicide bomber with alleged affiliations to Boko Haram struck at a newly opened mosque in Jimeta, a suburb of the city, as hundreds of worshippers gathered to pray there for the first time. More than 100 people were wounded and 42 were killed.

The attack came not long after a double bombing in the city’s main market, killing traders and commuters alike. “It only took two days for the market to reopen,” says local Asauten Anderibom. “Everyone has to feed their families so they went back to trading right at the same spot Boko Haram struck.”

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/09/nigeria-stories-life-in-the-time-of-boko-haram

2 visits to Chibok – 50 years apart

Chibok has always been a difficult place to get to. Here are stories of two journeys to Chibok 50 years apart.

Ralph Royer (2003 visit to Nigeria)

Ralph Royer (2003 visit to Nigeria)

 Story #1 Chibok Visit – A trip to Remember

(recalled by Ralph Royer – long time missionary in Nigeria, Supervisor of the 40 Church of the Brethren Elementary Schools during the 1960’s)

In the early 1960s the government of northern Nigeria announced a desire to transfer primary schools, both mission and native schools, to what were called Local Education Authorities (LEA). There being only a few non native schools in Borno LEA made it a good place to start. I made several trips to Maiduguri to help work out some of the details to transfer our three schools in Borno LEA – Chibok, Kaurwatikari and Mbalala. It was decided to do the transfer in 1963 and I felt the schools and teachers needed to know this as ownership and employment etc was to transfer to the LEA.

Current road to Chibok

Current road to Chibok

Usually Chibok was cut off by road from July to October, but this was August so I decided to take a small 50cc motorcycle from Lassa for the thirty miles to Chibok. At the Musa stream I had to get men to help hoist it over our heads to cross the stream. One of the shorter men stepped in a hole and briefly disappeared below the surface. When I was within seven miles of Chibok, I came to a large flowing stream at a spot I knew to be only a low area with an occasional mud puddle. Now it flowed two hundred feet across. I had already had help several times crossing streams, so seeing no around, I parked my moped by a tree and started walking in water up to my chest. A few miles on I met some Fulani cattle herders and their dog, but we could not converse and we each went on. After separating some distance, I heard a funny sound and turned around to see their dog really bearing down on me. I reached at it and the dog veered off, but it raised the hair on my neck and added to the seriousness of the whole situation with water everywhere. As I approached the last stream just behind the mission station, I began to wonder where the station was. There was nothing but water as far as I could see. A slight movement ahead caught my eye, it was a woman climbing into the branches of a tree. I watched as she went through to the other side and down holding onto small trees as she went forward. I followed and later found that this tree grew in the middle of the stream and we had crossed the stream where it was ten feet deep and three feet beyond each bank.

It was a very surprised Grace Brumbaugh who met me when I arrived at her house! They had four and a half inches of rain that afternoon and many mud houses had collapsed. It was also an appreciative group of teachers to whom I explained the upcoming changes in the running of the schools.

Over the next several years we arranged for the transfer of all of our forty-two schools. Informing these teachers required less “heroism”!

School from which the "Chibok girls" were abducted

School from which the “Chibok girls” were abducted

Story # 2 My Wilderness Journey To Land Of Chibok (An excerpt)

By Naija247news Posted In Crime & Investigative Reports

(A journalist tells of his trip to Chibok some time after Boko Haram had captured 276 girls)

 

 

The road to Chibok is bad and full of uncertainty; checking points everywhere mounted by vigilante group. Bombed cars, trucks and buses abound on the road to Chibok. Burnt houses and hot. Several villages sacked by the insurgents whose inhabitants now live under trees with their children begging for aid from travelers. Abandoned Police Posts that had received the insurgents’ baptism of fire! The Damboa-Chibok Road is particularly very bad. The major road has been taking over by flood. Drivers now drive through the desert forest like antelopes sneaking to avoid wet bushes from touching them. Some have been killed on the road by the insurgents and many escaped with varying degrees of gunshots injuries. Pastor Manasseh for instance, showed me injuries he escaped with on this road. At some checking points mounted by policemen and soldiers passengers are asked to step out of the car and walk through the check point.

We continue to remember those abducted by the Boko Haram and pray for their safe return.

Destroyed Chibok school

Destroyed Chibok school