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


Stories from Nigeria: Disempowerment as an IDP

Disempowerment as an IDP – Asabe


“She and her relatives spend the day moving her mat from one shady spot to another.” Photo Credit: Cliff Kindy

Being an internally displaced person (IDP) in Nigeria means that one is no longer able to live in one’s own home. Here in Nigeria one and a half million persons have become displaced because of the attacks and threats from Boko Haram. Being displaced means having to relocate to another place. It might entail moving to the home of friends or family who are quite welcoming. It might mean living in the bush where conditions might be minimal but a higher level of security is felt. Or it might mean settling into a camp where there are many other IDPs and some level of support from NGOs or government.

Recently I talked more deeply with an IDP who is living here at the Catholic Retreat Center in Yola. Through marriage she is connected with the bishop of this region and was invited to live here with her extended family when Boko Haram took over her village. She and her family are from EYN. Her father pastored at Lassa.

She has been here for five months. At home she would be busy with tasks that care for her family. Here she sits and waits for food to be given to her. She and her relatives spend the day moving her mat from one shady spot to another as the scorching sun moves across the day. She waits for clothes to be provided for her needs because she had to flee with just what she was wearing. She says she feels she has no power.

At home she has her own garden. If she needs food she goes “to pick the food, cashews, lemons, groundnuts,” to feed her family. If she needs clothes she has them in her house or can sell farm produce or animals for money to buy them. She has resources to purchase school supplies for her children.

Here she feels unable to help others – her family or neighbors. She is without the resources that are so available to her at home. This city is a strange place where she does not have access. At home she has connections but here she is rootless and powerless.

What does this feeling of powerlessness do over a long period? One begins to feel very small and helpless. A recognition of total dependency on others builds a new reality. Where one had been self-reliant and quite independent one becomes incapable of changing the dynamics that impact one’s life. For sure the larger problems appear beyond one’s influence. The problem of violence from Boko Haram seems untouchable. And even the smaller issues begin to appear like mountains.

Prayer? Her prayer that Boko Haram would be stopped before reaching her village was not answered. Her prayer that her needs would be met in a positive way seems to be answered only minimally. Her prayer that the threat of Boko Haram would be eradicated by the government so she could return home has seemingly not been heard. Despair starts to set into her life. Does God even care?

The monotony of life here at the Center is nothing like her life in the village. There she can constantly influence her future. Here she has few ways to change her future. Living door to door here with other IDPs who are similarly disempowered and dependent makes her feel small and worthless.

Later in the evening one of her neighbors exploded with anger for the entire neighborhood to listen in to the family squabble. Having no diversions of work or community activity allows tensions to build between people until they explode. Are there networks of healing in this place?

Continue to pray for Asabe and all the IDP’s in Nigeria.   “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Reports from Nigeria: A phone report from Cliff Kindy

Phone Report from Cliff Kindy to Carl and Roxane Hill on Feb. 3, 2015. Cliff is currently a Brethren Disaster Ministries volunteer reporting from Nigeria.

  • Cliff is helping organize a
    Cliff at Garku

    Cliff Kindy (right) volunteering in Nigeria. Photo courtesy of EYN Nigeria.

    Peace and Democracy Conference in Yola: promoting civic responsibility as the national elections draw near (scheduled for 14 February)

  • He will accompany delegates from the Swiss Embassy as they visit IDP (internally displaced persons) camps in Yola and survey the conditions in Mubi
  • Boko Haram insurgents continue their campaign of fear with bomb blasts in Gombe where President Goodluck Jonathan was campaigning earlier this week
  • Cliff has been instrumental in encouraging and participating in various Trauma Healing workshops – Mennonite Central Committee is sponsoring one for EYN leadership this week, helping these leaders to lead despite the trauma they may be experiencing
  • Cliff received reports that the Nigerian military attacked Boko Haram headquarters in the Sambisa Forest. With the successful defense of the city of Maiduguri, it appears that Boko Haram is being limited to hit-and-run tactics
  • With Cliff’s encouragement, EYN’s director of education has established a teacher-training program and set up locations to begin teaching at the five IDP camps in Jos
  • Cliff is asking for prayers for his mother who was recently hospitalized
  • Continued prayer for Cliff’s safety and health as he continues his important work in Nigeria
  • Lastly, as most of us are digging out of the recent snow storm, Cliff is enduring 100-degree heat with failing electricity and fighting mosquitoes in humid east Nigeria – way to go, Cliff!