n July, five workshops were held for children ages 10 to 17. Each workshop was held in a different town and included 10 girls and 10 boys. Most of the attendees were orphans; some lost their parents from natural deaths and others as a result of the Boko Haram insurgency. Many children have been victims of trauma and care was taken to invite those who had experienced the most trauma. Some children were chosen from the Madagali area where continued attacks occur and the area is still volatile.
Many of the children’s stories are heartbreaking. Part of the healing process involves telling your story, learning the effects of trauma, and forgiving those who caused the trauma.
Here are excerpts from three stories:
Jadiwar (14) – I ran into the bush and lived on a rock near one of the Boko Haram hideouts with very little food or water. I narrowly escaped but whenever I remember the event, it breaks my heart. I thank God for this workshop which has helped me to remember my hardship without letting it tear me apart.
Hauwa (15) – I was shot by Boko Haram militants in our house during the attacks. My father left me in a pool of blood and ran for his life. My brother came back and rescued me. Even though my physical wound was healed, I couldn’t work well or go to school. Before the workshop I found it difficult to forgive my father because I thought he hated my but now I have forgiven him.
Happy (15) – I lost both my parents and I was living with my elderly brother who started selling hard drugs to get money for our survival. He was arrested and put in prison. Due to the trauma, I could not sleep. But coming to this workshop has helped me regain my confidence and hope in life and I am sleeping better.
In other Disaster news…
On August 18, the town of Kidlindila was attacked by the Boko Haram. Although no persons were killed, the insurgents burned eight houses and ten businesses. Everyone fled the area and for several days no one could get back to asses the damage. Just three weeks after the attack, EYN Disaster Ministry provided an emergency distribution with food and sleeping mats for those affected.
The work of the Disaster Ministry is demanding and sometimes dangerous. Many humanitarian relief agencies focus on one main area of assistance, but the Disaster Ministry does it all. Their areas of focus include food, shelter and home repairs, trauma counseling, medical care, education of orphans, livelihood development for widows, along with training others in security and disaster preparedness. The work involves a lot of travel over poor roads and often in semi-secure areas. President of EYN, Joel Billi, said, “We always say a prayer when we see members of the disaster ministry leave the headquarters because we know they face many challenges as they assist others.”
In July alone, 736 persons received food, 10 homes in a remote area were roofed, 12 leaders attended the security workshop, 946 people were screened for Hepatitis B, and 40 victims received trauma counseling.
Successes: The IDPs who live in the EYN relocation camp near Abuja are beginning to care for themselves; people have secured farm lands, built new shelters for their families, bought used cars, and established small businesses. Teachers at the school are receiving a small salary.
Challenges: In Maiduguri, one of the temporary camps is located on donated personal property and now the owner wants his land back. Where will they go? Villages continue to be attacked by Boko Haram, refugees from Cameroon want to return to Nigeria but have no place to live. Please pray for our sisters and brothers in Nigeria.
With security still an issue, the Disaster Ministry continued working on a wall to surround the EYN National Headquarters and Kulp Theological Seminary. The wall is the first line of defense against a Boko Haram attack. The work consists of molding the cement blocks, digging and laying a foundation, and finally cementing the blocks together for the wall. Taking some tips from Brethren Disaster Ministry in America, they are utilizing volunteers for much of the work and local masons for the rest. One difference between American and Nigeria is that in Nigeria the volunteers are considerably younger (average age of 30 instead of 70). The project is progressing as planned.
Home repairs also continued in May. It is best to get the repairs done before the rains come in June – October. The latest roof repairs were completed in Tsakasimta, a village in a remote area near Biu where 90% of the homes were destroyed by the Boko Haram. 29 rooms were roofed for those selected as most vulnerable. The beneficiaries of the new roofs were so happy and appreciative while others only slightly less vulnerable cried because their still unlivable homes were not chosen.
Following recent Boko Haram attacks, a special relief of food and supplies was carried out to displaced person who gathered in the Yawa District. 67 households were assisted with rice, oil, spices and detergent. Many of the displaced have still not been able to return to their homes to asses the damage and to plant for next year.
As violence continues, dealing with Trauma is ongoing. One-on-One counseling allows people to share their stories, forgive the perpetrators of the crimes and continue with life.
Saratu shared, “I am a widow, my village was attacked and I witnessed the slaughter of my husband and 8 others. In addition 16 women and 7 children were abducted by the insurgents. I narrowly escaped and lived on the mountain under severe hardships for 4 months. I thought my world had come to an end but after this one-on-one counseling, I know that life must continue and I am regaining my strength physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have also forgiven the perpetrators and pray that God will one day call them to salvation.”
50 young women attended a workshop in Yola. The focus of the workshop was to teach about entrepreneurship along with a hands on session. Many women are unemployed and lack the skills and initiative to provide for themselves. Poverty and hunger are rampant in Northeastern Nigeria and the situation is compounded by the large numbers of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) who have nowhere to live and cannot support themselves. A relocation village (60 homes) was built in Yola which houses some of these IDP’s. Teaching women how to run a business and giving them skills and training is one way to help reduce poverty in the region. The women who attended the workshop were young; 2 were widows, 22 were married and 26 were single. Everyone learned how to take initiative; to start small but to do something for themselves and their families. At the end of the workshop all the women were shown how to make soap, shampoo, and cleaning supplies. They can use the products themselves but were encouraged to start up a small business by making the items and selling them to others. Several of the participants purchased the raw materials and have now started their own businesses. There is a large population near the Yola IDP village so they have a market for these products.
Pray for the EYN Women’s Ministry as they hold workshops and continue to provide assistance to the IDP’s.
One-on-One Lay Counseling in the Chibok area
Thirteen women and seven men were participants in a trauma workshop in the Chibok area. This workshop used lay counselors who met one-on-one with each participant. The counselors taught about trauma and how it affects each person then they encouraged each person to share their personal story. Finally forgiveness was emphasized as a means to overcome their trauma.
Maryamu said, “I met with Boko Haram face to face. They came to my house and set fire to it. I narrowly escaped but I lost everything I owned plus I lost my hope and confidence. This workshop by the EYN Peace Program has helped me to forgive the perpetrators (Boko Haram) and I am regaining my hope and confidence to continue with my life.
Rejoice shared, “I was seriously disturbed by what the Boko Harm Insurgents did to me. They slaughtered my brother-in-law in my presence and I was deeply disturbed whenever I remembered the gravity of what I witnessed. But today (after the workshop), I praise God for that I see myself as a normal person and I can sleep now unlike before. Moreover, I have forgiven Boko Haram and pray that God will change them, their attitudes and their conduct.
Continue to pray for the Peace/trauma leaders and the lay counselors as they minister to others.
In March, the EYN Disaster Relief Ministry Team traveled down to Edo state in southern Nigeria to visit an NGO called the International Christian Center. The NGO located just outside Benin City, was started in 1992 by Pastor Solomon Folorunsho. It’s purpose was to care for orphans and vulnerable children. When violence broke out in the Northeast and many people became Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs), the NGO opened its doors to this new set of IDPs. Up to 4000 persons, mostly children and widows, moved south. The women and children are given food, a place to live and education for the children.The costs to house this many people are very high and having enough food to feed them is always a problem.
Since so many of the children at the International Christian Center are from the Northeast, leaders from EYN have made several visits to the Center. Salamatu Billi, wife of EYN President, accompanied the Disaster team in March. She visited the classrooms and encouraged the children to do their best. She also thanked Pastor Folorunsho for taking in these children.
One of the main reasons for the visit was to provide food assistance to the NGO. This was a large undertaking and included: 500 Yam tubers, 140 Gari bags, 53 bags of rice, a pallet of Plantains, 25 Jerri cans of palm oil and 42 bags of sugar.
The major challenges of the center according to the camp official are food shortage and medical support. They also spend a lot of money on diesel to provide water.
Please pray for the Disaster Team, these children and all those providing their care.
Pictures and information provided by Zakariya Musa.