Testimonies from recipients of Disaster Aid

The broad scale of assistance given through the EYN Disaster Response Ministry in partnership with Church of the Brethren and Mission 21 includes: food, home repairs, trauma workshops, widows livelihood development, and fruit trees planted at a relocation center.

Here are some of the testimonies of the beneficiaries.

Woman receives food assistance for her family

Food – Sabastine remarked, “We thank God and thank EYN for assisting us with food items as we have been away from our homes for a long time. This food with benefit 6 of my family members.” Another person responded with thanks saying,  We are in a difficult situation especially in this season before the harvest.”

 

 

Awa’s home

Awa‘s two room home was re- roofed and she was very grateful but also stated that only women sleep in the houses. The men sleep in hiding in the bush due to the fear of continued attacks at night.

 

 

Widow at livelihood seminar

A seminar was held for widows with children. 101 widows from 19 districts were trained in income generation and given seed money to start their own businesses. Victoria, a mother of five testified, “God is indeed the husband of the widows and that He will come to the aid of those who diligently seek him.” Another mother of six, Adama, had been crying before the start of the seminar because her farm was in great need of fertilizer to insure a good harvest to feed her family. She was shocked when she received the money and said, “God still works miracles.” The seminar was a great encouragement to all the widows reminding them that are not limited in what they can do. The money given to start businesses was very much appreciated.

Testimonies continue to come in from the Trauma Workshops held around the northeast. The workshops span three days and are typically conducted for 30-35 participants. Each workshop has a tremendous impact on the participants. Here are some of their stories.

Participants of a Trauma Workshop

Mary –  I was abducted by Boko Haram from Bazza to Gulak where we were kept for many months. My only daughter was taken away from me by them up to now, I cant sleep and every night is a night mare. In addition there were false accusation over cloth Boko Haram gave us during captivity, people said that I stole it in the community after returning. But after the second day things began to change for my good. The woman who accused me  of stealing the cloth, reconciled with me by coming to my shop for sewing, I am able to speak and be heard among my people for the first time in 4 years. I have learnt to forgive all. This is my happiest moment and I am healed completely thank you!

Trauma Workshop

Jummai – Since Boko Haram killed my Beloved Husband I sincerely became traumatized in life for about 5 years. From this workshop my life is getting better now, my trauma has reduced,  thank you very much for this workshop.

Chinamu – I came here with heavy heart due to trauma, but after I understand the importance of forgiveness. I learned to forgive people who offend me, from this workshop I will go and reconcile with my neighbor so that I can have sound sleep.

We continue to pray for Northeast Nigeria, for those who have suffered from the insurgency and for the Disaster Ministry team as they bring assistance and healing.

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/

 

 

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)

Drawing strength from Jesus and each other

by Donna Parcell (Volunteer just returned from Nigeria)

I am overcome by the strength and resilience of the people of Ekklesiar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN-Church of the Brethren-Nigeria).  Everyone has a story.  There is not one who has not been affected.

There is Zakariya, who hasn’t seen his mother in two years and doesn’t know if she is alive or dead.  And Ibraham who heard from a former neighbor that his father was killed by Boko Haram.  There are those who saw their parents or children killed.  Pastors tell of witnessing people in their congregation killed or tortured.  People fled in different directions, and many have not seen or heard from family members in months or even years.  Everyone we meet has lost someone.  Everyone.  I can’t imagine this happening to my own church.

Most have spent time in Internally Displaced Persons camps (IDP), living in tents with scarce food and water and crowded conditions.  But the children still laugh and play.  They make up games and fashion toys out of discarded water containers or broken tires.  They all have many mothers as the entire village looks out for each other.  They often cook together as a community and fellowship together.

The EYN members in Jos have taken in and cared for displaced persons into their homes.  It is common for a family in a 2 bedroom house to be caring for 50 additional people.  They are not discouraged by this, they are finding ways to take in even more people.

They firmly believe that this persecution will result in spreading the word of God and growing the church, just as it did in the early church.

Despite a burned church - EYN still meets

Despite a burned church – EYN still meets

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.  And yet, they are not poor in spirit.  Yes, they grieve and struggle deeply with their loss.  But they rely heavily on each other for encouragement, support, and guidance.  They turn always to our Heavenly Father, and trust Him in all things.  They are confident in the love of Jesus, and have incredible faith that He will sustain them and bring peace to their country.

They are so appreciative of the concern of the global Church of the Brethren.  They feel covered by the prayers that are placed before the Throne daily on their behalf.  They are humbled that they are remembered and prayed for.  They are strengthened by our concern and prayers.  And through all of the horrific events of their everyday lives, they continue to pray for us.

The Story of Lami

by Rhoda Maina (A member of the Nigeria Disaster Team)

I met Lami during the relief distribution exercise at Uba last week. She received food and clothing as part of the EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria) effort.

Her Story

Lami is a 27 year old widow that lost her husband to Boko haram in February 2015. She is from my village (Lassa). As a matter of fact, they stayed in the same neighborhood with my parents before the dreaded attack. Lami and her late husband (Ujulu) and their three children were able to run to a nearby community for safety. However people in that community were also at risk because of the presence of Boko Haram in the area. After a few days, Ujulu’s elder brother, (Bitrus) who lives in Maiduguri sent a message to Ujulu that he should contact him. Bitrus had made arrangements for the family to leave that community and travel to Maiduguri.

On that fateful day, narrated Lami, ‘’My husband took a motor cycle and told me to make sure I stayed safe. He was going to look for a place where he could access the phone network to call his brother. It was after two days without his return that I knew what I greatly feared had happened.”

Ujulu met Boko Haram members on his way to the community called Sabongari. There they tied his hands behind his back and slit his throat, at least that was what Lami said with a very emotional voice.

 Ujulu burial:

Lami continued, ‘’Before I got the information, his friends in that community had already identified his body but could only dig a shallow grave. We went back for a proper burial and while they were burying him I hid myself in a bushy area to act as their lookout in case any Boko Haram were passing.’’

 How is Lami coping?

“All hope was lost after the death of my husband. My children became sick and always asked when their father was coming home. I would look at them with tearful eyes and tell them that they would see him one day.  However, in March, I attended a trauma healing workshop organized by an EYN pastor here in Uba.  There I received encouragement and strength from the teaching. Many other women shared stories sadder than mine. Since then, I have picked up the courage to be strong and take care of my kids and see what God will do.’’