Stories from Nigeria: Daniel

By Cliff Kindy, Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer reporting from Nigeria

Daniel has been a driver for EYN travelers since 2002. He is married with seven living children and lives with a brother who is also married and with one child. His mother is still living and is caring for nine other extended family members.

When Boko Haram raided EYN headquarters on October 29th Daniel escaped with all his family and ended up in Jos where he continues to work as a driver with EYN. But he had fields of beans and ground nuts near Mubi ready to harvest when he fled. He does not know if loose livestock have destroyed his harvest.

Daniel’s mother crossed into Cameroon for safety when Boko Haram ransacked the areas surrounding Mubi. Her group of ten has faced difficult conditions in the mountains of Cameroon because there has been no relief agencies or government assistance coming to the aid of these refugees. As returnees have reported, “We lived on leaves.” The ten people in her group just returned to the Yola area and are living in the IDP camps that have dramatically increased the usual Yola population. Daniel was able to visit his mother one day while the group he drives for was conducting a trauma healing workshop at an EYN congregation.

Though some families are slowly returning to Mubi, Daniel has his job in Jos which helps support the members of his and his brother’s families. He faces a difficult choice between the income-producing job in central Nigeria and the possible harvest and extended family back in the eastern part of Nigeria. What would you do if you were in his shoes?

CCEPI Distribution

By Cliff Kindy, BDM volunteer reporting from Nigeria

CCEPI Distribution 1.2.15 blog

Photo: Dr. Rebecca Dali (on left), Director of CCEPI, leading the distribution.

On December 10th the Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI) team gathered food supplies outside the temporary headquarters of EYN in central Nigeria. Displaced families had gathered and were already registered for ease in distribution. CCEPI is one of the EYN-connected NGOs that is being funded by Brethren Disaster Ministries through its Nigeria Relief appeal.

There was a rope outlining the area for supplies and CCEPI team to operate. Rebecca Dali, Director of the NGO, called out names and as families came to the rope each family received a plastic bucket, a large mat, twenty kilograms of maize, a blanket, two soaps and a bag of beans.

It was a colorful scene with bright scarves, children being nursed, other children playing in the clusters of people, a corner of elderly folks sitting patiently to receive some assistance and other hopeful, unregistered displaced folks waiting to see if supplies would stretch for them as well.

In the background the regular routine of the busy compound continued its usual pattern. EYN staff were in and out of their offices which were being spruced up with furniture to allow a more functional facility. A private school had delivered a huge load of relief supplies to the headquarters earlier that day. There were stacks of yams, toiletries, dried food goods and other edibles ready for distribution to the people displaced from the northeast of Nigeria.

Back at the rope around the CCEPI distribution circles of people were sharing with each other. An EYN pastor from Michika who had been hit by three bullets as Boko Haram moved into his home area in September was there, still healing. Though he had not registered he was hoping supplies would stretch to him.

A Church of Christ pastor and his wife were among those waiting. He had just finished an office management course and was returning home when Boko Haram reached his region. The family fled to Yola and then on to Jos when rumors of an impending attack on Yola spread. He was the one in the crowd advocating for the group of elderly patiently waiting at the edge of the circle. It seemed these elders were not on the registration list and he wanted them to get first opportunity at any extra supplies.

The distribution went smoothly for the over one hundred families. Having it off the road in a closed area with sufficient staff facilitated the process. Only a singing ZME choir (EYN women’s group) would have improved the setting!

Crisis Management Team

By Cliff Kindy, BDM volunteer reporting from Nigeria

Crisis Response Team Dec 2014
Disaster Management Team

Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) Standing Committee has commissioned a seven-member Crisis Management Team (Team in what follows) to coordinate the church’s response to the overwhelming disaster that has engulfed EYN, especially in northeast Nigeria. Though the disaster has been years in developing this year, 2014, has been an especially difficult year for the church.

In April, Boko Haram abducted over 300 women students, 170 EYN, from their school in Chibok. Through the summer there were more attacks by Boko Haram in EYN areas of Borno, Ademawa and Yobe states. Then October 29th the EYN headquarters and Kulp Bible College had to be evacuated as Boko Haram ransacked Mubi and the surrounding area.

In August, Jay Wittmeyer and Roy Winter of the Church of the Brethren (COB) met with EYN Standing Committee and drew up a detailed response plan to the crisis. By November, though the framework of the plan remained valid, the crisis had grown immensely.

Carl and Roxane Hill, Co-Directors of the Nigeria Crisis Response were in Nigeria encouraging the process as the Team members were selected and Standing Committee commissioned them for the work. It wasn’t just a simple two-step plan that confronted the Team.

Their task included: 1) providing emergency feeding for tens of thousands of displaced, with a focus on EYN families, but recognizing the need to assist others where populations are mixed; 2) selecting leadership to carry out/coordinate an extensive trauma healing process for the church; 3) assisting with the re-establishment of an EYN headquarters, for this time near Jos, and a new setting for Kulp Bible College on EYN land; 4) organizing the return of thousands of EYN members from the refugee camps and the mountains of Cameroon; 5) settling refugees who would not return to their original homes onto newly purchased locations with homes, school, clinic and place of worship; with the intent 6) of quickly moving formerly displaced families from a dependence on emergency food to a position of being able to sustain themselves through jobs and farming; 7) expanding the peacebuilding work of EYN; and 8) carrying out regular advocacy with embassies and other potential partners in the relief efforts.

Implicit in this relief task was the vision to grow EYN as a national and international church. Developing the headquarters annex moved the center of the church to a location more easily accessible to the rest of Nigeria and neighboring countries. With Kulp Bible College near by that central accessibility for leadership training also holds true. When the return to Mubi is possible these new developments provide for increased opportunities for church growth.

In December both the COB and Mission-21 (formerly Basel Mission) made initial commitments to be partners with EYN in this immense undertaking. Mission-21 has been sending mission workers and financial support for EYN since Basel Mission merged with EYN in 1962, so this partnership is just a more explicit commitment to support the response to this disaster. One of the complicating factors for this three-way partnership is that the disaster continues with no indication that it might not grow.

Support from the Church of the Brethren is essential. Major fundraising will be required and many volunteers will be needed to walk with EYN in this process. It is a massive undertaking for all three of the partners.