Education Must Continue – Highlights of 2016 and Prayers for 2017

Paul & Becky Gadzama Directors of EMCI

Paul & Becky Gadzama (on the2  sides)
Directors of EMCI

By Becky Gadzama

Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI) is so thankful to God for another year.  Our prayer is that , every one of you would  enjoy a very exciting  walk with the Lord through out this new year. We also pray that He will provide ALL your  needs both spiritual and material according  to His  riches in  glory by Christ  Jesus.

2016 was very encouraging for EMCI. Highlights include:

– Graduation of 59 IDP Yola senior class. 85% of whom passed their SSCE exams( SAT) equivalence.

– Efforts to start EMCI school in a maiduguri suburb for Kanuri girls,

– Greater opportunities for the relocation of children from from north east to safe schools in central Nigeria and other southern parts of Nigeria,

Children in Yola classrooms

Children in Yola classrooms

– Gradual stabilization of the Yola and Lassa IDP schools for better future directions and planning.

– One of the chibok girls that have lived with us has started her degree (Accounting ) program in AUN Yola. The other is preparing for her SSCE. Their determinations are very encouraging.

-Amazing donation of nutritious food to EMCI kid by ALL THINGS POSSIBLE. It arrived very timely , at the peak of the food crisis in the Borno camps. Over 14000 kids benefited from it in Maiduguri and 6000 children, orphaned by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen violence.

Lassa School

Lassa School

Praise and prayer requests for 2017:

– Thanking God His  provisions in the past years. – that God will continue to bless CoB both financially and materially – peace in Nigeria – freedom and human right in Nigeria – stable school year – EMCI senior students to do well in their SSCE exams this year also. – successful teacher capacity programs – safety as we travel to and fro – God’s blessings so that EMCI can do much more this year. – Good health – more opportunities to impact the lives of children educationally. – Favor for the take off of the Kanuri girls school in Maiduguri. -That the remaining 194 Chibok  girls still in captivity will be home very soon

 

Traveling with Markus Gamache

By Deb Ziegler

We have been blessed to host Markus Gamache as he hosted us when visited in Nigeria.  One body in Christ, across the ocean… we have seen and heard each other’s journey and we have been blessed. It was a busy two weeks, we traveled over 2000 miles and spoke in 10 different venues from churches to Colleges.  It was a real treat to be able to hear and watch Markus interact with different audiences across the country.  He has a way of connecting with those he is speaking to and can bring an update of the true happenings in Nigeria to a very personal level.  Here are a few highlights about Markus and our journey with him.

Markus at Postdam Church of the Brethren Southern Ohio District Nigeria Fundraiser

Markus at Postdam Church of the Brethren with Pastor Carl Hill
Southern Ohio District Nigeria Fundraiser

Markus’ journey

Each time I listened to Markus speak to a group or held a conversation in the car I learned a little bit more of his story.  Markus was born into a pagan family.  He was the first boy born to his mother, who was the fourth wife of his father.  He grew up in the bush where each wife had three huts, one for sleeping, one for cooking and one for storing corn and making beer. The father had a hut to himself in the center of the compound.  Markus grew up with many brothers and sisters.  When he was about 7 years old to 10 years old he began going to school where he learned to read the Koran and was learning the Muslim prayers.  His father was a leader in the community and became a Muslim and so his whole family became Muslim. This was when Markus was 13 years old.   Between the age of 10 and 13 Markus and the other boys in his school met a Christian man who told them it would be very difficult to become a Muslim; because if you did not recite the prayers just right they would burn you with a hot poker stick.  Markus decided to become a Christian out of this fear.  When his father decided the family would become Muslim, Markus was kicked out of the house and built a small corn stalk house at the edge of the village.  His mother lived with him until he was 15 years old, when his father required her to return home.  She continued to support him with food placed over the fence.  Currently Markus’ father is deceased and his mother is living in his home as a Muslim.  He has many Muslim friends and family members as well as Christian friends and family members.

Markus with his wife and mother

Markus with his wife and mother

Markus has been working with interfaith relations for years. He has six children, two with his first wife who died of complications of diabetes when the children were 7 and 8 years old.  He then married his current wife Janada and they have four children ages 7, 5, 3 and 6 months old.  Markus works with the EYN church and is the representative from EYN to the Church of the Brethren, USA.  This requires much time and energy away from his family.  He hosts visitors to Nigeria, making many things possible.  He visits both in USA and Germany to continue work for the church.  During the Crisis since 2014 Markus shared he has not slept in his bed.  He has hosted many people in his home, both Muslim and Christian, all running for their lives from Boko Haram.  He lives in a three bedroom home, with one bathroom. He described hosting over 60 people in his home at one point.   Not just of a night or two, but for months.  It was a hard burden… to feed these people.  Little children were everywhere, sometimes defecating and urinating on the floors.  His wife was exhausted and their marriage stressed.   So the interfaith camp at Gurku…was born out of necessity.  The Church of the Brethren and many others have supported its ministry.  Before I get lost in the story of Gurku, let me say that Markus still hosts 20 people in his home and he continues to covet time with his family and his wife. Still giving up his bed for others, he is a servant for sure, with much sacrifice.

Visiting Gurku Interfaith Camp (January 2016)

Visiting Gurku Interfaith Camp (January 2016)

The interfaith camp at Gurku

When our group visited the interfaith camp at Gurku there were 70 families living there, both Muslim and Christians, all displaced by the violence in the Northeast.  They had a church building started and were beginning to build a mosque.  The people worked together to make their own bricks and helped each other build their homes.  They have an infirmary and a brick oven for the widows to bake muffins to sell.  Now there are 170 families living at Gurku.  The widows have their own living area and a fish pond.  They just finished harvesting the fish and smoking them for eating and selling.  The church has been completed with windows and doors, and a tile floor.  They have also built a guest house at the site.  This community is very close to Markus’ heart and in the future he would like to move his family to this community to live and work with them.  He often thinks of a day when he can spend his time raising his family.  Markus will say that he never planned to build an interfaith camp, but out of the need for a place for all the displaced people the community has been developing with support and leadership from many people.

Who are the Boko Haram?

I am no expert, but I have learned in the past two weeks that Boko Haram was born out of poverty, lack of resources, food, and they are fellow Nigerians, brothers and cousins and yes relatives to the people we have met in the EYN.  Nigeria had been suffering from lack of food and a poor economy since 2009.  Somehow Boko Haram has been able to obtain weapons, food and money.  They have ways of employing others to work for them and since the economy is so depressed people will agree to work for them before they even know what they signed up for.  So indeed Boko Haram includes people in each community that are known by members of EYN;  people they have gone to school with, met in the market, and members of their own family.  Markus shared his mother was held by the Boko Haram for nine months. He did not know if she was dead or alive.  Her own grandson came to her numerous times intending to kill her.  And so yes, religious ideology is part of the Boko Haram, but it is also political and economical as well.   As I think of the Chibok girls, I am realizing it is a very complicated situation. It leads me to the scripture Markus was sharing and struggling with on this trip.  “You shall love your enemies, pray for those that hurt you.”   Markus asked us to think about who are our enemies?  Can you name them?  Did Jesus know what Nigeria was going to go through when he said love your enemies?  What should they do when they recognize the man that killed their husband, or slaughtered their baby?  What should you do when you face them in the market?  Markus and others covet our prayers and our wisdom, inspiration and strength to help them to love their enemies because as human beings it is extremely difficult to forgive and love.  I can only suggest that it is the Christ in us that allows us to be able to look upon another person who has harmed us and hurt us so deeply, and to respond with grace, love and forgiveness.  It is not us alone that can forgive and love, but the power of Christ in us that gives us the strength to not retaliate.  Markus challenged people to give to him the wisdom of how to respond to enemies.  He was searching for answers, for strength, for our prayers and support.

Markus in a tractor

Markus in a tractor

Building the Church in Nigeria through a tractor?

Each day of our journey with Markus was filled with moments of deep sharing, wondering and dreaming.  It was good.  It was exhausting.  As we traveled from farm to farm, and drove from Elizabethtown to McPherson College, a dream started to develop in our car.  Markus was learning more and more about farming, preparing the soil, tractors.   And then we started thinking how would a tractor in Nigeria change the ability of the people to plant more crops.  And with each new farm and farmer we met we asked more questions.  We researched tractors in Nigeria, and a proposal began to take shape.  And although it is still only a dream, a possibility, it is exciting to think about building the church in Nigeria with a tractor.  We have learned that Nigeria is the third worst country for famine.  In the northeast and even in the camps closer to the center of the country the people do not have enough food to eat.  People are dying in the camps every week for lack of food.  A tractor would be helpful in preparing the soil for planting.  Right now all farming is done by hand.  In some areas the bush is being tilled for the first time and it is very hard work.  If the tractor could disk the ground, the people could plant more crops and harvest more food.  They would have more food to eat and to share with their neighbors.  They would have seeds to save to plant for the next year.  Some of the crops could be sold and the money used to pay for hospital needs, school fees for their children and placed in the church offering.  Many people are not going to church because they have nothing to give to the offering.  Pastors are not being paid because the people are in crisis and do not have much to give. Over 1600 churches have been burned and destroyed in the northeast.  Pastors are out of work.  We do not even know where some pastors are located presently, dead or alive.  People are settling new areas of Nigeria and the church is growing as host communities join displaced EYN members.   If people had more money to give to the church, they could pay their pastors and have money to rebuild the buildings that were destroyed and build new buildings in new communities.  They would feel good about being about to support their families and community.

Each day I shed tears of compassion for the far reaching effects of crisis.  I learned how complicated counties, people, churches, governments and systems can be.  How overwhelming the needs.  How faithful God’s people are all over the world.  I continue to witness the power of prayer, the faithfulness of God’s mercy.

 

Hope in Starting Again – A visit to Yola IDP camp

Contributed by Pat Krabacher

Salamatu Billi singing with the women at the Yola camp

Salamatu Billi singing with the women at the Yola camp

We arrived at the Yola camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and Salamatu Billi (wife of the EYN President, Rev. Joel Billi) seemed very happy to be with the women and she joined them in energetically singing warm songs of welcome to our Fellowship Tour. I could not help but wonder how many of the women were widows (as there were noticeably fewer men in the camp). The women’s choir, nonetheless sang with great joy. )

Michelle Gibel and Palace

Michelle Gibbel and Palace

Michele Gibbel of the Litiz, PA church shared the following “take-away” experience: “During the worship/introduction time at the IPD camp in Yola, a young girl named Palace sat on my lap.  She kept playing with my hands, trying to scratch off my freckles, noticing the small blister, and looking at my uneven fingernails.  And then she started to count my fingers.  She touched each one.  And then she touched each of her fingers. 10 – the same number. For me, this moment was so profound.  Our lives could not be any more different.  BUT, we are both created by the same loving God, who has formed each of our fingers, and calls each of us by name.  And so, we are really not that different after all.  My heart will forever remain with my new Little Sister, Palace.” hands

After the welcome singing and the remarks, we toured the camp and saw the sparse living conditions, but the concrete block homes at least were sturdy and permanent. The children were so excited to show Michelle the new water well which seemed to be a symbol of great hope.  We played games and left some mementos of our love (soccer balls, crayons and paper, Frisbees, etc.) with the camp director, Rev. Jerry Tizhe.)

Children around the well

Children around the well

 

Humbled by an Onion

Deb and Dale Ziegler

Deb and Dale Ziegler

By Deb Ziegler                                            While interviewing a family at Masaka, an internally displaced persons care center in Nigeria, I learned about the needs of one father.  I asked him what his needs are.  He said he would like his children to go to school and he needs a job.  I asked what he did for a job before and he said he grew onions and sold them.  Now my face and my heart demonstrated compassion as I processed this information.  But my mind was thinking:  I saw many people selling onions along the road, who would buy your onions?  Everyone around you is in crisis, who has money to buy your onions?  These were my thoughts at the           moment.

I also learned about the people returning to their homes in the northeast.  They needed to plant their gardens kilometers  away from the village for the safety of the village.  The military could not protect them if the corn fields are close to the houses, because they can not see the enemy approaching.  I grow all my own vegetables for the year in my garden. This summer as  I worked each morning weeding and harvesting, often in the  company of my neighbor, I prayed for my Nigerian brothers and sisters.  I was thankful for peacefulness of my garden, listening to birds singing and often watching the sun rise.  Thankful I did not have to look over my shoulder to see if I was safe.   And each week as I heard of people in Nigeria being slaughtered as they tended their garden,  I was brought to tears. Random weekly attacks, stealing produce, burning crops as I peacefully filled my pantry for the coming winter.

a market scene in Nigeria where onions could be sold.

A market scene in Nigeria where onions could be sold.

I harvested my onions and remembered the father who needed a job selling onions to support his family.  I used my last onion one day in October and I just started to laugh….Who would buy your onions I thought…I would…. From now til next August.  A few weeks later I was frying up some of my store bought onions, while also cleaning out the refrigerator.  I was feeling rather sad about the spoiled  food I was throwing away, thinking about Nigeria and the people starving to death each week, when I smelled the burning onions.  CRAP,                                                                                         now I need to buy another one of your onions!                                                                Once again I was humbled by an onion.

Trauma is personal. . . .

Pat Krabacher and Dr. Rebecca Samuel Dali

Pat Krabacher and Dr. Rebecca Samuel Dali

Contributed by Pat Krabacher -Pictures by team members

As we shared our Thursday morning breakfast we didn’t know that we would enter into the deep trauma of someone we cared deeply for, Joshua Ishaya. There is a saying by “Daniele Bernock, “Trauma is personal. It does not disappear if it is not validated. When it is ignored or invalidated the silent screams continue internally heard only by the one held captive. When someone enters the pain and hears the screams, healing can begin.”  Danielle Bernock, (author of Emerging with Wings: A True Story of Lies, Pain, and the Love That Heals)

Riding in the van to the Favored Sisters Christian Fellowship School, Joshua Ishaya, our EYN Fellowship Tour assistant, told us his story of trauma from recurring threats of attack and unimaginable violence he had experienced. First, the months of threatened attacks leading up to the BH attack on Oct. 29th 2014 at his alma mater, Kulp Bible School, Kwarhi/Mubi in Adamawa state. Joshua ran for his life on foot across rugged terrain, witnessing a friend dead in his car and hearing the gun shot and bombs all around him, arriving barefoot in a small village where help was received.

Joshua at Favored Sisters School

Joshua at Favored Sisters School

Four months later in Feb 2015, Joshua traveled from Jos to Kano by bus to stay with his sister. The bus arrived in Kano just before 3 pm, but because 3pm is the Muslim prayer time, the bus was not allowed to pass in front of the Kano Central Mosque which holds 5,000 worshipers. Three blasts went off at the Kano Central Mosque in close succession and Joshua saw bodies, body parts, and blood everywhere, as their bus was very near the Mosque. The images of death and destruction are still vivid in his mind 20 months later. The terror of retribution that was directed to Joshua as one of the few Christians in the vicinity of the Mosque was terrifying. For days, Joshua could not eat, sleep, or even write his name. He cried for hours once safe with his sister in Kano.

Four months later, in June 2015, Joshua was asked to help out at FSCF with the traumatized orphans. Their first day together, all the children could do was cry and Joshua also cried with them. On the second day he realized that he had to do something different so he began taking pictures of the children with his cell phone. They were desperate to see their own picture, so Joshua used his laptop to put the pictures into PowerPoint and show the children their pictures. Slowly the crying ended and a few small smiles emerged. Over the next two months Joshua entered the pain of the orphans and heard their silent screams, healing was beginning for many children.

Katie Ulm with the children

Katie Ulm with the children

One year later, Joshua and our FT visit to FSCF in Aug 2016 –  like a sweet reunion for many of the orphan children as there was great joy at seeing Joshua when we arrived! Our FT Visit to FSCF Orphanage & School started with sweet singing by the orphan children living at the school over the summer break. They sat in plastic chairs and seemed hesitant or unable to smile. Playing games, teaching how to throw a Frisbee, a quick football (soccer) game, painting popsicle sticks, drawing pictures, or just talking with and taking more pictures of John, Eve, Jason, Joy, Rahila, Sarah, Mary, Susan, Israel, Yuku, Vilto, and the many others was the order of the afternoon.  A simple visit that says to an orphan, ”You are important and loved, we came to see you.”,  seemed to bring more healing to the orphans and changed us as we shared in their pain. Before leaving we honored the FSCF Asst. Director and pastor Balla with the teal “We are one body in Christ shirts” for the great love that FSCF is extending in Jesus’ name to these EYN orphans. Pray for the many orphans in NE Nigeria. God is using Joshua’s deep trauma for His glory – Joshua has a calling into Youth Ministry – Praise God!

Adam Ulm with the orphans

Adam Ulm with the orphans

Take-Away Thought – Trauma is personal. . . . When someone enters the pain and hears the scream,s healing can begin. In a small way, the FT entered into the pain of Joshua and of the children at FSCF orphanage so hope and healing are taking place. We are family, the body of Christ, united in love. When our family suffers, we come together to be present and to love one another. As Zander Willowby  observed in his blog dtd 22 Jul 2016,  “A church is people stuck together by love.” http://blog.brethren.org/2016/a-church-is-people-stuck-together-by-love/

 

 

Reflections on the August Fellowship Tour (Part 2)

by Pat Krabacher

Non-identical twins. Pat and Dr. Rebecca

Non-identical twins. Pat and Dr. Rebecca

Aug 3, 2016 – “Care for the Widows and Orphans”

I awoke at 4 am this second day in Nigeria and my mind wandered to the next time that we would interact with children at an IDP camp. A hot breakfast was ably prepared by William in the Abuja Guest House. We finished packing for the one-hour trek south to Lafia, Nassarawa and then the 4-hour trek northeast to Jos, Plateau state.

Our opportunity to serve this day was at the CCEPI Widows Intake & Distribution – Lafia, Nassarawa state. Dr. Rebecca Dali has managed her NGO helping widows and orphans for 25 years. Dr. Rebecca anticipated 240 widows would come for the assistance in Lafia (which means ‘wellness’ or ‘good health’). We drove over roads that were “typical for Nigeria”, i.e. very bumpy with lots of pot holes to miss.

Arriving in Lafia we embarked from the van and were greeted by Dr. Rebecca and her CCEPI staff. Seeing my “non-identical twin” Sister, Dr. Rebecca was one of the sweet highlights for this writer. We have been friends for 4 years now and she is one of my dearest sisters in Christ.

CCEPI staff with 3 widows

CCEPI staff with 3 widows

We were provided a CCEPI vest and ball cap to wear while doing intake and distribution to the widows. It was overwhelming seeing the several hundred widows who needed to register to receive the assistance. Doing the intake was a bit challenging since many of the widows did not speak much English. What was special was being able to spend some one-on-one time with, and hugging the widows or otherwise encouraging them.  Many were young and typically had 4 or 5 children. After intake we each took a job in the distribution line giving each widow an item, e.g. bucket, a blanket, Maggi spice cubes, cooking oil, dish soap, salt, 10lb beans, and 50 lb corn. This resulted in the women walking home with the beans and corn on their heads and often with a baby on their backs!

The Lafia’s pastor’s wife and a few friends served us a very satisfying lunch of chicken, rice, watermelon and beverages. The 4 course lunch provided by the host church was typical of the “sacrificial generosity” we experienced all along our trek thru Nigeria.

Team at the Unity House in Jos

Team at the Unity House in Jos

After lunch we departed in the rain drops for Jos, Plateau state. The 4-hour. trek to Jos, brought us to the EYN Compound and ‘Unity House’ our ‘home away from home’. We stopped along the road to buy treats, bananas, and oranges from the roadside vendors. Arriving around 6 pm we were glad to have an opportunity to cook for ourselves at the EYN Jos Unity House. We had many of the comforts of home and wonderful space for the FT to relax in at Unity House. It had been a morning of service to the Widows and the two treks to Lafia, Nassarawa and then to Jos, Plateau.

Take-Away Thought – We had the honor to meet the widows and do the intake interview by filling out the CCEPI form for each widow served. Meeting IDPs that have lost everything makes violence “real’ and puts a life into the pain. A reminder that we are to care for widows and orphans as commanded in James 1:27. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress –

Reflections on the August Fellowship Tour (Part 1)

patby Pat Krabacher

Aug 1, 2016 –  Seven Strangers in the “Big Smoke” but United in the “Land of Beauty”

Seven strangers aka the “CoB 2016 Fellowship Team” met for the first time at noon on Aug 1st, 2016 in the London Heathrow International Terminal 5. Team leader Donna Parcell, daughter Sarah Parcell, Michele Gibbel, Jessie Marsiglio, Katie & Pastor Adam Ulm, and I (Pat Krabacher) had flown thru the night to meet in London, England (nick named the “Big Smoke”). We had a 12-hour layover and needed to meet and then travel to Westminster Abbey (WA) during our layover. Joining up with four other strangers in an International airport when cell phones don’t work and wifi is sporadic is a challenge! (I asked about 5 men in the London airport that day if their name was Adam!) Finding each other at Heathrow was probably “minor miracle #1” and followed swiftly an hour later by admission to Westminster Abbey just 30 seconds before it closed admissions for the day (possibly “minor miracle #2”). 

Our Westminster Abbey walking tour and the Evening Song choral event were memories of great beauty and deep faith of our forefathers and foremothers. All to soon it was time to navigate back to Heathrow using the “Tube” during the tail end of “rush hour” and a closed Tube section undergoing maintenance. We were becoming a team as we navigated our hour long trek back to Heathrow.

Back at Heathrow Terminal 5 we checked our bags, had dinner together before boarding our overnight flight to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. As we departed the Big Smoke we each pondered our trek into Nigeria and slept fleetingly on the 7-hour flight to Nigeria.

We arrived in the dark at 5:15 am and smoothly passed thru Nigeria Immigration/ Customs! We were welcomed to Nigeria by Markus Gamache & Joshua Ishaya Mamza in the pouring rain (August is the rainy season in Nigeria) – that first hour of being in Nigeria we experienced buckets of heavy rain! Over the next 12 days the Fellowship Team (FT) came to trust completely and love both Markus and Joshua as brothers in Christ.

The 30 min drive from the Abuja airport to the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) Guest House, near down town Abuja, gave the first indication that we were ‘not in Kansas anymore’ and we took a 2-hour rest in our rooms before meeting up for our first Nigerian meal, a breakfast of instant coffee, fried yams and egg.

aug-fellowship-tourEYN Abuja compound – Sarah, Donna, Markus, Pat, Joshua, Jessie, Michele, Adam & Katie presented Markus and Joshua a Hausa-English ‘We are one body in Christ’ t-shirt to honor them. Photo credit – Pat Krabacher.

 

 

 

Take-Away Thought – As seven strangers in the “Big Smoke” we united together as a team and also with EYN brothers and sisters in the “Land of Beauty”. As individuals of diverse ages, experiences, geography, and sociological views we had committed to a trek thru NE Nigeria – to work together and to encourage our EYN brothers and sisters. Sharing in a 1,000-year-old cathedral adventure, navigating the London Tube, clearing customs in Nigeria, and preparing mentally for our trek to the “Land of Beauty” (nick name for Adamawa state) had united us. Our compassion and respect for each other, for our team lead, Donna Parcell, and for our EYN leader Markus Gamache and his Assistant, Joshua Ishaya grew day by day and taught each of us that we are one body in Christ.

dsc_0594

Nigeria National Mosque, Abuja, Federal capital Territory Photo credit: Donna Parcell – Markus G. (tan), Alh. Ibrahim A. Jega (white), Binta B. (blue) & 2016 FT: Donna, Michele, Mathias, Adam, Sarah, Katie, Pat, and Jessie in front of the Nigeria National Mosque (NNM), Abuja, Nigeria

#2_Aug 2, 2016 – Great Contrasts – But New Friends

Four hours after landing in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, we departed the EYN Abuja Guest House for a day of meetings (this first day, more than most others, challenged our minds and hearts). Our first day in Nigeria was a day of new ideas and new friends from very different situations. After meeting Mrs. Binta Bakari (a Muslim woman who co-founded the Gurku Interfaith settlement that we visited later on our trek) we departed the EYN Abuja compound for the 15 min drive to the Nigeria National Mosque (NNM), Abuja. Our meeting was with the Administrative Secretary of the NNM, Alh. Ibrahim A. Jega.

Imam Jega was very gracious to us and interested in the peace conference the CoB hopes to co-host in NE Nigeria in 2017. He shared with us some specific teachings from the Koran that instructs Mohammed’s followers to love and protect Christians and Jewish peoples.  We removed our shoes and entered the National mosque a place that draws between 5,000 – 15,000 worshippers weekly. An amazing time at the Nigeria’s National Mosque!

Masaka IDP resettlement house   Photo Credit: Michele Gibbel

Masaka IDP resettlement house
Photo Credit: Michele Gibbel

Our hour hour long drive to visit the EYN Masaka Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) resettlement camp was over the WORST road of our trek (in this writer’s opinion). A dirt road that ran uphill off of the main road, it was full of deep ruts and holes that wanted to take the under carriage off our vehicle?!? We bounced and corralled our nerves as this was the first meeting with Boko Haram victims who had fled their homes. We were instructed by our trust worthy guide Joshua that there was a phrase we needed to understand, since we’d be hearing it, especially from the children. White people are called “ba-ture” (means ‘white person’). The children everywhere were either fascinated with the white Batures (and stared at us) or were afraid of us and cried!

Photo credit: Katie Ulm Pat with EYN Internally Displaced children at Masaka Re-settlement Camp

Photo credit: Katie Ulm
Pat with EYN Internally Displaced children at Masaka Re-settlement Camp

At Masaka, we overcame our nerves and began our visit with the people of Masaka. Deborah shyly spoke to me only three words, “We are hungry”. After I collected my thoughts, I put my arm around her shoulders to hug her and walk with her – she was very thin. On our way up the hill to the corn stalk church at Masaka, we passed by her house in the re-settlement camp. She had planted a banana tree when they arrived a year earlier and and joyfully showed me the bunch of bananas growing on the tree. I was comforted to know that soon she would have a source of bananas.  However, several days later my false hope of bananas for

Masaka Corn Stalk Church – before destroyed by storms in Sept 	          Photo credit: Michele Gibbel

Masaka Corn Stalk Church – before destroyed by storms in Sept
Photo credit: Michele Gibbel

Deborah was shattered when I found out that only one bunch is produced on a banana tree before it dies. Deborah’s words were quite a contrast to the National Mosque and to our last appointment of the day, fellowship and dinner with some Abuja EYN brothers and sisters. However, meeting and playing with the children of Masaka, seeing the joy a simple soccer ball brings, and visiting the simple mud brick and corn stalk compounds at Masaka helped us to know the pain of being an IDP.

michelle-gibel-with-women

Photo credit: Michele Gibbel – Michele with two BEST women, Abuja BEST dinner

Upon returning to EYN Guest House, we changed clothes and departed for the sumptuous dinner with 15 Abuja Brethren from Brethren Evangelical Support Trust (BEST). Many warm smiles were shared and delectable foods awaited us as new friends were made. I reconnected with friends from the EYN ZME Women’s Fellowship Choir that toured the US in 2015. The delicious BEST meal was quite a contrast to the IDPs we met at Masaka but, the opulence of the NNM and the generous love of our EYN brothers and sisters represent the building blocks for peace in NE Nigeria. Our first day in                                                                                       Nigeria closed with many thoughts                                                                                           swirling in our dreams that night.

Thought – Meeting IDPs that have lost everything makes violence “real’ and puts a face into the pain. Sandwiched between the opulence of the National Mosque and the sumptuous BEST fellowship meal are families that are blessed to be alive, yet, are likely to struggle for years to come. I carry Deborah’s 3 words and her pain with me now in my heart, she is my sister. Hope endures thru the partnership of Christians and Muslims seeking peace together. Christians and Muslims must pray and work for reconciliation, if peace is to prevail in Nigeria.

 

Livelihoods Empower Many

Praise God for the release of 21 Chibok girls. We continue to lift them up in prayer with the many challenges they will now face. Our disaster work continues on many fronts. Here is a report on some of our livelihood projects.

Livelihoods are Empowering!

         Livelihoods are Empowering!

Two of our Non-Government Organizations are providing Livelihoods to those effected by the Insurgency. This is an incredible gift that gives people a way to help themselves. Businesses that have been provided include:  bean-cake making, grinding machines, peanut processing, sewing machines, knitting machines, computers, soap making, providing seeds and fertilizer as well as goats and chickens.

These Livelihood gifts are such a blessing to those who receive them. 1000 people apply for the 200 businesses that are available. The NGO’s provide training on using the gifts as well as teaching them how to run a business successfully. Then they follow up with the recipients to monitor their success.

One of our NGO’s focused on seeds and fertilizer during the growing season. The other NGO has built centers for the training and graduates 2-4 classes a year. Here are some testimonies and pictures:

Maise Farm

Maize Farm

“Where will I start from, you can testify for yourself how the farm materials helped my farming activities, my farm became the talk of the town especially my maize farm; it has never been like this before.  I am very much grateful to you and to the people that gave you money to help us, may God Almighty continue to bless all of you. Thank you”.

Recipients of Rice seeds and fertilizer.

Recipients of Rice seeds and fertilizer.

“Sincerely speaking, if not because of the farm inputs especially fertilizer, my farm will not produce enough food that can sustain my family throughout the year. I can say that God send you to salvage us from Hunger. Thank you very Much and God bless.’’

 

 

Students learning to sew

Students learning to sew

SEWING & KNITTING at the Yola Livelihood Center 

The Livelihood Center taught the students on how to cut and sew wrappers and skirts. Different styles were shown to them including what is called pencil skirts. After making sure that the students understood it, pieces of material were given to them to practice  using the sewing machine.

Knitting training at the Livelihood Center

Knitting training at the Livelihood Center

The knitting students have learned how to knit babies caps, socks and sweaters.  They can now make cardigans for sale and some of them are already in the business

Help for widows and their children

 

EYN Director of Women's Ministry, Suzan Mark and her assistant. (photo by Carl Hill)

EYN Director of Women’s Ministry, Suzan Mark and her assistant. (photo by Carl Hill)

The Women’s Ministry of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) is beginning a special project for the many widows that are the result of the Boko Haram violence in Northeast Nigeria. The project is funded by Nigeria Crisis Funds. Over 5000 widows have been identified in the EYN church. Being a widow is very difficult in Nigeria; and since many of the widows are young; they do not have children who can support them. In fact most of them have young children of their own that they are struggling to provide for.

Widows wait for relief materials (photo by Donna Parcell at a CCEPI distribution)

Widows wait for relief materials (photo by Donna Parcell at a CCEPI distribution)

The project will teach 50 widows a skill so that they can start their own business. Also 35 of their children will be given scholarships for school fees. The director of a relief organization in Nigeria reported the following about education, “611 teachers have died as a result of the terrorism in the north east; 19,000 teachers have been displaced, 1500 schools have closed down, and 950,000 children have been denied the opportunity of accessing education.”

Orphans at Favored Sisters School (photo by Donna Parcell)

Orphans at Favored Sisters School (photo by Donna Parcell)

 

The problem is so big and there are so many widows to help, it may seem like we are not doing much, but like the story of the starfish, we are making an incredible difference for some. Imagine hearing the stories of so many and having to select only 50 to help.

 

 

Here are some facts about a few of the women chosen.

Rejoice David from DCC Gwoza, a widow at camp in Maiduguri. Her husband was taken away by Boko Haram to Sambiza, but was slaughtered there when he refused to deny his faith. He left behind 6 children 4 girls and 2 boys as follows:                                     Emmanuel David 18 years, Elizabeth David 15 years, James David 13 years, Sarah David 11 years, Juliana David 8 years, Lilian David 4 years                                                 Rejoice was selected for training in sewing and Elizabeth was chosen for assistance in payment of school fees

Widows (photo by Donna Parcell)

Widows (photo by Donna Parcell)

Sarah John a 27 years old widow at DCC Maiduguri was a Muslim convert who was married to a Christian named John. Her husband was killed after 6 years of marriage by Boko Haram leaving her with 2 children, a boy and a girl. She has been in camp for some years now. Both her parents and that of the husband refused to take care of her because their faith is not the same. We considered her case as special so her two children, (Ayuba John 5 years old and Rifkatu John 3 years old) were selected for scholarship and Sarah requested to join training for sewing, which was granted.

Hannatu Haruna 9 years and Racheal Haruna 7 years are complete orphans. Boko Haram killed both parents and they are now staying with their old grandmother at Kiffi. They were selected for school fees scholarships.

 

Fellowship Tour August 2016 (Part 2)

By Jessie Marsiglio

Picture by Donna Parcell Visiting Gurku (new teacher Sarah Robert on lower right)

Picture by Donna Parcell
Visiting Gurku (new teacher Sarah Robert on lower right)

We visited IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps and were greeted so warmly that the women even had us join them in singing and dancing.  At the Gurku site (this was the one Markus had started with both Christians and Muslims) we saw the solar system of water that had just been installed to provide constant clean water supply for the camp. Each camp needs a similar system.

All the children need the discipline, structure and education of a school.  Prayers were answered the Friday we were at Gurku when Sarah Robert arrived to be the teacher of a school.  She will be working with camp leaders to begin officially.  We gave her our blessings and some school and recreation supplies.

Picture by Donna Parcell Jessie at Favored Sister's School

Picture by Donna Parcell
Jessie at Favored Sister’s School

We visited Favored Sisters School and were greeted with the children’s singing.  Since school was out for the summer, we interacted only with the orphans who lived there.  As much fun as we had with sports and activities, I noticed some somber-faced children standing apart from everything.  One older boy was wearing a pink girl Jacket that was way too small for him but he would not remove it even though the day was hot — it was his security. He hesitated at first to join in any games but eventually his curiosity overcame his fear of us.  He would not talk or smile until near the end and it was the brightest smile ever. One older girl hung back but kept watch on all activities.  When I needed to go to the bathroom she was asked to escort me.  I asked her name and she said Susan when I immediately told her a story of a Susanna and ended it with and “Susana grew in favor with God and was very beautiful” just as she (Susan) was beautiful.” She smiled for the first time and held my hand the rest of the day.

The best visit of the week for any purpose was when we revisited this school.  The children realized that we were more than just one-timers and that we really did care about them.  They had all increased their skills at the activities we left with them and were eager to share with us.  My boy with the jacket still had on the pink jacket but immediately joined the group.  Susan grabbed my hand and played with us.  Such a change in these two just because we showed that we cared.   I hope this change continues and they are able to overcome the horrors they must have faced.

Picture by Jessie Widow learning to sew

Picture by Jessie Marsiglio
Widow learning to sew

My heart bleeds for the children and we need to do everything for them.  But we also need to work with the women. My personal opinion, my hope and prayer is that we are able to teach the widows to be self-supporting and return them to their home area when it is safe.  CoB has scheduled some work camp to help repair/rebuild homes for them.  But unless the widows have means to provide for themselves the widows will remain helpless.  At Gurku, the widows are tending crops and the catfish ponds which will teach agricultural skills.  We visited two organizations who are training in computer, sewing, soap making, etc.; this is a help but each organization can only manage a few trainees at a time.

We need more facilities and maybe even more variety of jobs training.  If these widows are not normalized soon we might face generations of dependency and we cannot afford it nor do the women want that.

I was sad to leave Nigeria and hope someday to return.