The Joys of Working for Nigeria

by Carl Hill

One of the real joys my wife and I have experienced over the last four years is just being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Our involvement in Nigeria has been a blessing for us like no other (outside our children and grandchildren). It comes down to the people. We have been bowled over by both the generosity and concern of the American Brethren and warmth and hospitality of the Nigerian Brethren. Over the last few years we have had the privilege of sending over 30 people from this country to walk alongside their Nigerian brothers and sisters. We are not alone in our appreciation of the Nigerian people. Without exception, everyone that has gone to Nigeria has returned to this country with a different perspective on life and faith.

Middle Pennsylvania District

Middle Pennsylvania District

Also, over the last several years, we have visited numerous Church of the Brethren congregations speaking about our involvement in Nigeria. Because of the Church’s concern for Nigeria over $4 million dollars has been raised in support of the people of northeast Nigeria. We have spoken about Nigeria at churches, district conferences, schools and colleges. One of my favorite pictures of support was taken at the Middle Pennsylvania District Conference last year. Everyone in attendance is enthusiastically lifting holy hands in recognition of our Brethren in Nigeria.

Amazingly, the same type of enthusiasm greets us when we go to Nigeria. One of our favorite Nigerians (one among so many) is Markus Gamache. He is known in EYN as “Jauro.” This is a Nigerian term that means “community organizer.” He is really a frustrated but still hopeful politician. He knows his way around every situation that we have seen him confronted with – from questionable traffic stops on the road to choices of food that visiting Americans will eat to visa applications to get us into the country – Markus handles them all!

Markus with Sarah Robert and Roxane

Markus with Sarah Robert and Roxane

What a heart he has for his people! There doesn’t seem to be a person who cares more and does more than Markus, especially at this crucial time in Nigeria. Many people have turned to “Jauro” for help in one way or another. Markus has even started an inter-faith community (both Muslims and Christians) to house hundreds of displaced people from the northeast in a safer area near the capital city of Abuja. Church of the Brethren is partnering with Markus in this venture.

On our most recent visit to Nigeria we ran into a lady with a special problem. This lady, Sara Robert, a converted Muslim, recently graduated from Kulp Bible College. Unfortunately, like so many who have graduated from KBC in the last few years there is no place for her to go. For the men there is no place to go due to the glut of pastors and scarcity of churches. Women, on the other hand, still have no official leadership role in the church (outside of being involved in women’s ministry). To make matters worse for Sara, after graduating she had no home to return to. Our KBC contact, another of our favorites, Joshua Ishaya, asked if there wasn’t something we could do for her? That’s when Markus stepped in. He suggested that she relocate to his inter-faith community near Abuja. He believes that Sara can serve a teacher/principal for the new school that is being built for the hundreds of children living at the camp.  

I could go on and on about Markus and his wonderful ministry to everyone he comes in contact with but. . .

Here’s one last story that comes to mind. Last year on one of our trips to Nigeria we had the chance to go to Taraba State’s capital of Jalingo. Jalingo is located three grueling hours south and west of Yola. During the insurgency many EYN members fled to Jalingo in search of a safe haven. Markus took us there as EYN was considering purchasing some land to build a displaced persons camp. We went just to look at a particular plot of land. When we got to Jalingo we stopped off at one of the new worship centers for displaced EYN members. Waiting for us there were hundreds of people. Obviously word got out that we were coming and the people had gathered to greet us and possibly receive something from us in the way of food and/or supplies. We were totally unprepared for this large welcoming committee. We were fed lunch in the pastor’s office and asked to greet the people who had been waiting for us for at several hours. I cannot tell you the guilt we felt as we addressed this group of hungry and needy folks. We took some pictures and did our best to greet them in the name of Church of the Brethren.

Thankful people in Jalingo

Thankful people in Jalingo

Finally, when we returned to the quiet of the pastor’s office we started to search our pockets for money to see if we could leave this group with something. We could only scrounge up a very meager amount of money. In frustration we asked Markus if he had any money on him. Leave it to Markus; he had over 100,000 naira on him. Markus always travels with some back-up money and he also felt that it was worth contributing all of it to these abandoned brothers and sisters and their children. When he tells the story he always gives me full credit for considering the gifts we gave those people, but I know different. Markus had someone go down to the marketplace and buy beans and corn enough for each family to leave with something. It was one of the most rewarding things that we have been part of in our outreach to the struggling people of Nigeria – thanks to Markus.

Maiduguri was an amazing experience

Reflections by Zander



I spent five days in Maiduguri. For the three days of trauma healing workshops, I spent each day with a different group. The leaders were Dlama Kagula, Esther (I missed her last name, but the has a master’s from the UK), and Rev. Toma. That was an amazing experience in itself. LCC Maiduri Centre is HUGE. It was especially amazing to see how the Rwandan HROC model of trauma healing was adapted to fit the Nigerian experience.

Each day, I saw wider smiles; one could really see that many of these faces didn’t remember how to smile. I did my best to remind those in the workshops (and those facilitating) that they’re not alone, that people all over the world are thinking about them, and that the Church of the Brethren in America, especially, is with them. That brought a warm response and was a much-needed message for them to here. 

Maiduguri itself is a very interesting city. The roads are good, and wide, and maintained. There’s ample evidence of city planning. There were sidewalks and flood management ditches. It felt much more like the Middle East than it did to Jos and Abuja. It was also much cleaner than the other places I’ve been (although, the rivers still run with trash and every empty lot is a small landfill). The electrical system was bombed two years ago, so the entire city runs on either solar or generators. Also, it basically under full military occupation. It felt a lot like the West Bank at times, but it was nice to know the soldiers were actually there to protect the people this time. There was an attempted suicide bombing at a mosque in town my first night, two guys blew themselves up early and no one was seriously injured. I honestly only knew about it because I was checking the local news while I was there. I made sure to share it on social media so that no one else in the US that knows I’m here would find it first and worry.

IDP School at LCC Polo

IDP School at LCC Polo

Maiduguri has 22 IDP camps in it. We visited two of them and a school that some EYN IDPs started for IDP kids. They started the school because the government schools in the camps are Islamic schools, which makes sense, I don’t think we can really blame the government too much for that. It seems that EYN, in particular, is very adamant that their kids go only to Christian-based schools. So, since the government isn’t contributing to the IDP school in LCC Polo’s parking lot, UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, the EU, Japan, EYN, and CoB have all contributed to this school of over 700 children with all volunteer teachers. One of the camps we visited, which is about the size of LCC Utako’s compound, houses 7,456 IDPs. We were going to visit more, but a lot of them have recently added people so they didn’t want to take me without a security detail and there wasn’t time to put one together (so the story goes). I spent most of my time with Kadala, we had a good time and had good conversation about trauma healing, the HROC model, and sustainable relief.

Smiles at the end of the Trauma workshop

Smiles at the end of the Trauma workshop

One concern that Dlama did bring to me was that the Rwandans weren’t all in IDP camps when they went through trauma healing. The Nigerian adaptation is supposed to bring tangible relief the week before trauma healing to fulfill some basic needs in the hierarchy of needs so that people can focus on the trauma healing process. This doesn’t always fully happen and, even when it does, there a real difficulty of participants finding transportation to the workshops since most of them are in IDP camps and have to go a distance to get to the workshops. Dlama ended up paying for the transportation of a few participants out of pocket. Also, everyone thought it was hilarious when I ate egusi soup with my hands with them.

The only hang-up I had in Maiduguri was an argument I had with immigration when I was flying out who claimed that I should have a work visa instead of a tourist visa. I must’ve answered a question wrong without thinking or something. I eventually got him laughing and got him to let it go. It also took a while for me to convince them that I wasn’t U.S. Army, U.N., or a Journalist when I got there. That was pretty funny (:


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.


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

PRAYER – a great way to start the year

Crossover Service

Crossover Service

A Crossover Service                By Debra A. Ziegler


A Crossover Service

A celebration for crossing over to a new year.

From 2015 to 2016

A gathering of people

One Church, many tribes, many languages

Singing, praise, drums, electric guitar, keyboard, shakers, harmonica

Yukelelie, rhythm and song.

Dancing and music are a part of the service

Dancing and music are a part of the service

A testimony-of the faithful prayer of an aunt, who for 17 years prayed.

Her prayers answered, a relationship begun.

A child now knows who his father is.  Praise to God who is faithful.

Humble thanks for the prayers of God’s children, and for His visions that guide us.

A sermon from Joshua 3

Challenging us to cross over into 2016 on the Lord’s side, to sanctify ourselves,

To leave our sinful trouble behind,

To stand firm in the testimony of the Lord.

This EYN church has many tribes

This EYN church has many tribes

A time of serious prayers in many languages.

Prayers …

For the Chibok community; the girls that were kidnapped and are still missing.  May they know God’s presence and their families be comforted.

For the EYN church – for unity and growth, for good relations with neighbors.

For Boko Haram- to turn from their violent ways and turn to the light.

For church leadership

For marriage and families

For following Christ with a renewed commitment

For safety in travel

And so we began our prayers in 2015 and prayed into 2016

Female Theologians in Nigeria

Kanadi Dauda Gava

Kanadi Dauda Gava

by   Mrs. Kanadi Dauda Gava, treasurer EYN Female Theologians

This group, Female Theologians EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), was started in 2008 when Rev. Ndamsai saw the need of refreshment course for Women in the Ministry. He first shared this idea with the EYN former President Rev. Filibus Gwama and Mrs. Christine Guhne the then Mission 21 representative to Nigeria and TEE Consultant. They both agreed with this idea and Guhne promised that Mission 21 would support the group through sponsoring their yearly workshop. This support is ongoing.
MISSION: our mission is to empower and encourage women for effective service in the church and society, spiritually and administratively.

Dr. Yamti - lecturer at Kulp Bible College

Dr. Yamti – lecturer at Kulp Bible College

Dr. Safiya - Director of Education

Dr. Safiya – Director of Education

– To encourage one another to serve Christ faithfully despite all challenges.
–  To promote Peace and justice in the church and society.
–  To serve as a spiritual and intellectual force to the church and the society.
–  To help and cooperate with the church on fulfilling her mission
–  To bring EYN church of the Brethren in Nigeria Female Theologians together in order to be      effective in the service of the church.
–  To work hand in hand with Zumuntan Mata Ekklisiya (ZME) (Women Fellowship) in time of evangelism.

BOOK PRODUCTION: some of our objectives are to encourage intellectual and spiritual activities of the members. So we embark on writing book. The first book was produced in 2010 and many members contributed since it had to do with African Women. Now the second volume is with the publisher hoping that by March it will be ready for sale. The title is, African Women Voices.

INSURGENCY: The attack by the insurgents on the EYN Headquarters on the 29th October 2014 has affected the group because the attackers went away with our money worth 3 thousand dollars, and we need about 3 thousand dollars to print 2,000 copies of the current book.

Dr. Rebecca

Dr. Rebecca



accepting the giftIn January, each EYN church usually chooses a theme for the year. It is based on Scripture and a banner is made and hung in the church for that year.  This year at the request of Dr. Samuel Dali and EYN leaders, every church has been asked to use the same theme; Accepting God’s Gift of Grace. The theme is based on 2 Corinthians 6:1 “Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.” (RSV) The theme is designed to remind churches that there is a responsibility involved when we accept God’s gift of grace. Individuals and churches are encouraged to continue as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20) and to spread the good news of God’s grace to all. Dr. Samuel Dali is encouraging EYN to make the most of the new opportunities brought about by the insurgency of Boko Haram. As EYN members have been scattered across Nigeria, the hope is that they continue to share about Jesus Christ and bring the message of peace and reconciliation wherever they are located.

Banner in Abuja

Banner in Abuja

EYN’s Continuing Challenge with Education

Julie Heisey in Nigeria

Julie Heisey in Nigeria

As part of the Take 10/Tell 10 Group from the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren visiting Nigeria in January 2016, Julie Heisey was graciously given the opportunity to interview Safina Doma, EYN Director of Education, and listen to
her story.

Education in government schools, particularly in Nigeria’s northeastern states, is of poor quality due to corruption, crumbling infrastructure and lack of teacher training. As a result, parents banding together had been sending their children to
schools operated by EYN which at least was able to provide Christian education
not allowed in public schools. Dr. Safiya has become Director of Education at a
time when the Boko-Haram insurgency, opposed to both Christian and Muslim
education, is placing great pressure on 45 EYN schools. Dr. Safiya expressed
“deep pain in my heart and tears” when she visits schools like the one at the
Stephanos Camp for Internally Displaced Persons where 100 children have only
one trained volunteer teacher.

Dr. Safiya

Dr. Safiya

Dr. Safiya has been visiting as many schools as she can, gathering materials that were left behind after Boko-Haram attacks and encouraging school staff who
have not received salaries in the last year. This has taken great courage. In June 2015, Dr. Safiya started out toward Yola with a car and driver visiting EYN
headquarters and many schools. In Mubi the head of the school had lost her husband and Safiya prayed with her in her home. At the EYN Comprehensive (secondary) School she asked students to write an essay on how Boko-Haram has affected their education. In an attempt to reach Chibok her car was stopped from proceeding, but that didn’t stop Safiya. Telling her driver to stay with the car for his own safety, Safiya said, “I bought a box of water and started walking, wondering what I would say if I encountered any terrorists.” Upon arriving at Chibok she found that the school staff had not seen anyone from EYN for one year. They were greatly encouraged by her presence.

As past coordinator of Women Theologians, Dr. Sfiya helped to organize the
workshop on trauma healing and vocational training in Yola in November 2015.
The women were encouraged to forgive their attackers, to reach out to others, and share what they have. Safina has also provided support and encouragement to a colleague who lost her husband and three children in an attack. Her own wedding, planned for last fall, was relocated because of an attack which “scattered all my plans”, but it went on in a safer location. She has received support and encouragement from her new husband, a
retired pastor and former collegue at ECWA seminary.

In the midst of all the suffering and hardship, Safina sees God’s spirit working.
She quoted the words to a song about “blessings of God coming down like
raindrops to those who love God.” Among those blessings she includes:

• opportunities to reflect on the meaning of life, (one’s place in the world, why
God has allowed this suffering and the challenge of unanswered prayers.)
• God has helped many people to escape.
• God has provided “what we need. If God doesn’t provide it, we don’t need
• Although attacked, Kulp Bible College and EYN headquarters were not
burned and some things were able to be salvaged.
• Unexpected help came from the Church of the Brethren in America inspired
by God. Although the millions of nira that have been contributed by
Americans are important, they are not as important as the people who have
come. EYN will be stronger because of the “fellowship of the feet.”

The next challenges Dr. Safiya sees are praying for the insurgents and telling the
world about how the girl-child, made in the image of God, is affected by rape and
becoming sex slaves. She asked what will become of the resulting babies these
girls will have? How can they, with already lowered status, help their children?
How can we prevent this from becoming an ongoing multi-generational tragedy?
Dr. Safiya has written an article about the The Girl Child: Bobo-Haram’s New
Weapon of War. She has plans to publish a book on the subject in two years.
We have listened to the deep caring, dedication, faith and courage in Safiya’s
story. As she has received inspiration from the presence of the Take 10/Tell 10
Group in Nigeria, her story and the stories of many Nigerian Brethren like her are
bringing inspiration and renewed faith to the church in America.

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.