From Kutara ; displaced but placed by God

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The kids in the camp

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It was one of those conversations you have with a friend, you remember the economic climate and the many job losses in the country and he suddenly says “Chijioke what of IDP camps”? This unplanned conversation ignited a fire that had gone dim for a while, thank you Gbenga. That same week I had gone to visit a friend and found out an IDP camp was close to his house. Oh! I was extremely excited, told my aunt and we took our first set of relief items in the form of clothes and shoes. But the visit left us disappointed, it wasn’t organized, we saw a lot of bags of clothes in a particular container, apparently they didn’t have a proper system for sharing.

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The arrival at the camp
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Tim getting acquainted with the kids. After they had sung their welcome song
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Rachel leading them in the greeting in Hausa language
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Tuboson, Rachel, Ejike and Tochi capturing the moment

I still knew there were more IDP camps and I went further to get a more detailed list of IDP camps at the outskirts of town. Thankfully I found about seven (7) camps and I chose Kutara Camp. Meanwhile a mentoring group I’m part of decided to carry out Charity work with an emphasis on IDP camps. I had posted a status on facebook without asking for help but causing people to think of how they could help towards the displacement crisis in Nigeria and I got private messages as well as comments on how they can get involved. You see when you have a desire to do something God causes the earth to respond. The journey to raise funds for the visit to Kutara started.

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Solar panel for the bore-hole
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The bore-hole

 A little N2,000.00, few baby clothes and it kept coming. I was getting overwhelmed with people’s donations within and outside Abuja. A colleague overheard my conversation over the phone and asked how he could get involved. I explained the needs and he gave $100 and further made others to give $200. Oh! My heart was bursting with excitement, my friend Melford said my excitement was infectious even over the phone. While I was sorting out the clothes, shoes and textbooks I couldn’t believe all the things people sent. They were all new and laundered clothes, I saw the prettiest aso-eke for a little baby girl and I saw tampon too. That definitely made me smile but reminded me I needed to buy sanitary towels too.

I was awake by 3.00 a.m. on that Saturday and couldn’t sleep, not sure if it was anxiety or excitement but I was glad to be up to know a little thought was about to come alive. We were eleven (11) on the trip, three colleagues, six friends and the camp coordinator Adamu. We headed to Kutara in three (3) cars with lots of emotions running through our minds. Only one of us who is a doctor had been to several IDP camps. The trip became pretty interesting when we veered off the major road and kept on driving for another thirty (30) minutes and the camp was nowhere in sight. At some point my friend Efe who was in another car called to ask why I didn’t ask them to bring their passports cos’ it was clear we were leaving the borders of Nigeria. We finally got to the camp situated in the middle of nowhere and beheld the sight of many little children waiting for us at the entrance and singing a welcome song.

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Tuboson and Adamu the Camp coordinator who doubles as their respected leader
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Yea Peace to the world… watch out for that kid
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Women and Children…

When we all came down no one remembered the distance we covered to get to the camp. They are displaced persons from Adamawa and Borno who were attacked by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The name of the camp is Kutara in Masaka, Nassara state. The camp is made up of seventy (70) families, sixty (62) men, sixty (60) women and two hundred and twenty-eight (228) children and they all live in houses provided by the Church of the Brethren Mission in Switzerland through EYN Church Headquarters in Mubi, Adamawa State . The same church owns the land they are occupying. There’s a solar-paneled bore hole in the camp. We all went to various areas in the camp. Tuboson who’s a doctor had a session with the public health worker in the camp, Rachel had a session with the kids where she recited the alphabets and sang the National Anthem in Hausa language, Efe, Ejike, Tochi and I went to view the make-shift school.

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The walk to the school
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Getting information from the teachers. Me, Efe, Ejike, Tim and Tochi in the classroom.
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The make-shift classroom
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One of the teachers
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Tim giving the kids their football. He was supposed to play with them but time was an issue.

There are three (3) structures built with Zinc with a black board gotten by painting wood with charcoal. They have five (5) volunteer teachers who cover from per-crèche to primary three (3). The remaining kids go to private schools in neighboring villages which is funded by the produce from their farms. They are predominantly farmers. Tim had fun with the children while Iztok and Guy were busy strategizing on the next steps. Not to forget Chioma who was gracious enough to document our experience with her camera. I can’t forget what the young lady said when we handed the sanitary towels to her, she said the women in the camp use rags and wash it to re-use. Yes in the 21st century we still have such practices.

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Rachel reciting the alphabet in Hausa language
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Rachel in her element
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They were reciting the National Anthem.

The heads of various groups spoke to us and the head of the camp who we observed to be highly respected said something very profound, “We were displaced by Boko Haram but God has placed us here”. They have made Kutara their home and when I asked him if he will like to go back home, he responded by saying TO WHERE! I can’t say we met all their needs but a child went to bed that day with a new dress on, one had a chocolate drink, another ate noodles while another child used a toothbrush and a bathing soap in the morning not to forget the new shoe a man will put on and the woman who will be using a sanitary towel that day. Or the volunteer teacher who took back money in envelops as a reward for their help in molding the next generation. You see, we all wished we could do more but at the end of the day we were glad we changed one life after all it starts with one.

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Dr Tuboson discussing the medical needs with the health professional in the camp.

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Our amazing driver Stephen who was extremely patient with us and Efe off-loading the relief materials

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Beyond what we gave them, they were excited that we crossed all the seven rivers and mountains to spend the day with them. They said people hardly visit them cos’ of the distance and the few people who visit them make promises but never come back. Although we didn’t make any promises but we’ve decided to be a little different. We have met after the visit and talked about what we can do for them. So here we have it: –

  • A proper school – We plan on constructing up to six (6) classroom blocks with desks and chairs.
  • A better health post
  • Medical supplies – Malaria is the major disease in the camp
  • Mosquito Net
  • Sanitation facilities
  • Fertilizer for the farmers
  • Skills acquisition and initial start-up for them
  • Solar panel for electricity for the camp
  • Improved accessibility for local transportation
  • Publicity – We want to do a documentary to share their story with the world
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The oldest man in the camp
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Not sure what I was saying
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Efe, Rachel and the youth leader behind them

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That moment our great philosopher Tochi gave a talk on the audacity of the youth. He gave a good pep talk

If there’s anything we all noticed there’s transparency in the sharing of relief materials they receive. We plan on empowering them in making them self-sufficient so they don’t rely solely on aids. So like I asked in my Facebook post, what do you have in your hand that can help? Whatever it is, let us know and we’ll take it up from there. Yes we just made a difference last week Saturday but we are about to change the lives of many people to translate to many generations. After all said and done we live to leave a lasting legacy and at the end we all have the same color of blood and that’s all that matters.

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She’s 3 years old and bold…watch out for her
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Who knows, maybe Efe just carried a future president of the country. You just never know
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Did Rachel just take a picture with a future World Bank President? You just never know

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She’s just two weeks old
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That moment Tim led the closing prayer with all our hands clasped together.
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And Tim raises his hand, not sure what he was saying

Loads of Love

Friends of Kutara

 

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A tale from the bathroom and bedroom

Shower

Just the other day, I was in the shower and before then I was in the bedroom where ermm… you know what goes on in there. I’m pretty sure your thoughts are travelling really far but you can channel it back to this post, maybe you can go back when you are done reading.

I’ve noticed something really interesting in this era of Social Media. It’s gradually sipping through every facet of our lives from Churches tweeting live sermon, to BBC (Blackberry Broad Cast) of medical examination even Presidents engaging the public through Facebook. We can’t forget the Selfie the President of USA with British and Danish Prime Ministers took during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. Social Media has indeed been a great tool if you know exactly how to leverage on it; we’ve seen hasttags like #ChildNotBride, #FreeCiaxon and the recent #BringBackOurGirls. A lot of success has been recorded on account of this hashtags; SM has united us regardless of tribe, religion or location. But in all of this I have noticed we are gradually turning SM into some kind of Big Brother, you know how there’s a diary session on the show and the participants tell Biggie a lot of things, that’s exactly what is going on now.

Twitter

The other day a lady tweeted she was going get laid that night, someone is having a shower and tweeting it, once you wake up the streets of Twitter and Facebook already know.  You are having a fight at home and you seek the help of Big Daddy Twitter or Facebook to resolve it, someone bashes your car and the first thing is an upload on Instagram, the most annoying is what goes on at accident crash sites. Phones are all up in the air, everyone suddenly turns to paparazzi meanwhile life is ebbing out of the victim.

I remember having a conversation with someone who said his tweets don’t always portray who he is and I kept on saying it’s not true cos just like the Great Book says ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks’. SM is like a deep hole and everything you put inside remains in there, years down the road a little digging up into the archives will reveal who you were before. A few days ago Piers Morgan tweeted a statement made by Cesc Fabregas in 2010 and I quote him ‘If I ever wear a Chelsea shirt, you have permission to kill me’. Whatever we choose to say(whether it’s true or not) bottom line is Fabregas is with Chelsea now and the only reason this statement was made available was cos’ of SM and like i said it’s a big hole.

Idi Amin

I saw this picture and it sums it all up, we have freedom of speech but what happens afterwards… If you don’t know a few people who can form hashtags you’ll probably disappear from the surface of the earth. Let’s apply decorum on the streets of SM. We shouldn’t replace the place of true communication with our friends, family or God for the virtual world. Someone shouldn’t give a detailed account of your daily life by just scrolling through your Timeline.

Fb

N/B Please if you come across the mother of this child on facebook, pass this message… Thanks

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD

Moving forward

I was on Facebook a while ago and saw pictures of a family friend and his fiancé; I instantly said in my heart, does this lady know who she’s marrying. Here’s a brief story the guy had done something in the past, really bad, the kind of thing my people call alu (Taboo). We lost touch, can’t say what has been happening in his life, maybe he has repented and turned a new leaf cos’ I often see him write a few stuff on Facebook. Truth is, after muttering my thought on his engagement based on my holier-than-thou attitude I felt uneasy and I knew it had to be the Holy Spirit.

Flaws 2

I realised I’m not good at forgetting past events; I discussed it with a friend and he asked, the few who hurt you, have you forgiven them and I’m like yes but somehow I still remember them for what they did and it kind of beclouds who they’ve become. I was caught in the middle of 2 cousins I’ll call Chris and John who are both my friends regarding something similar. Chris had suddenly changed and wanted John to change too but the approach was a problem cos’ John felt he was been judgemental over him. I remember telling Chris we shouldn’t be quick to forget where we are coming from, at some point he was on the other side of life but looking back at my thought concerning my family friend I totally forgot the life I live is really about God’s mercy.

Flaws 4

We are often quick to condemn abortion but when the lady chooses to keep the pregnancy, eventually gives birth she’s stigmatised. We refer to her as the one who gave birth out of wedlock even when she has changed and moved into her husband’s house. For some funny reason we don’t forget easily but then again to whom much has been given much is expected. We have been forgiven a whole lot of times, interestingly God still knows we may fall again and He doesn’t love us any less. Abimelec was to be destroyed for taking Abraham’s wife although Abraham lied that Sarah was his sister but God spared him and even told him, Gen 20:7b “for it was I (God) who kept you back from sinning against me“. Can we cut someone some slack? Can we see people for who they are at the moment and not who we knew them to be in the past? Can we give room for people’s flaws? Can we not bring up people’s past with our friends and associates? Can we stop being judgemental and correct out of love?

Flaws

I’m not yet there but I choose to start seeing people differently. Something I picked along the way and I think it can be useful, whenever faced with similar situations just say a word of prayer over them. Truth is many of them may have changed and moved on and we are still carrying who they used to be on the inside, when Paul who was a Christian-assassinator got converted, many people didn’t believe him even some of the disciples had mixed feelings, so don’t go killing yourself cos’ you feel a certain way towards someone who had a not so good past rather start from now to look out for who they’ve become even as you ask God to help you with accommodating their change. “Friends don’t get me wrong; by no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” Phil 3:13 MSG

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD

Friendship (Thought Provoking)

I wrote a Note on Facebook on the 24th of Sept 2010, incidentally I listened to the same message a few weeks ago that inspired it and I knew I had to dig it up. I’ll just add a few things to the original Note. We can’t take the  company we keep for granted. Joel Osteen in his message “Divine Connection” calls it our inner circle; who do you hang out with more often, who do you spend your lunch time in the office with, who do you speak to on the phone a lot? Paula White in her message “The Power of Right Connections” calls it the Jonathan Connection (not our president, although it’s needed too) we will never get to some areas in our lives without a Jonathan, citing the case of David and Jonathan in the Bible. Darren Hardy in his book “The Compound Effect” puts it this way, the people with whom you habitually associate with are called your “reference group”, his mentor Jim Rohn says we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most (You can start doing the maths of their income, values, beliefs, attitudes etc) and Darren asks does the answer frighten you?

We often forget the company we keep rubs off on us; we start to use similar exclamations, eat the same kind of food/drink etc. This really hit me, NOT EVERYONE SHOULD BE IN OUR INNER CIRCLE, THERE ARE PEOPLE WE CAN LOVE FROM A DISTANCE (yea scratch that), they may be good people but you are not headed in the same direction; they might not understand certain decisions and you will end up spending so much time explaining. Such people should be kept out of your inner circle, remember you still pray for them, check up on them and all but they shouldn’t be your alter ego (just found out it equally means a very close and intimate friend).

The Note

I’m sitting here thinking of the recent movies being played out around me. I receive text messages, calls saying I don’t care, one is talking of being sick and I didn’t call/txt. I ask if I keep on taking care of people who takes care of me. Not as though I’d stop been caring, people often forget that those who are always looking out for them at the end of the day are usually alone most of the time. (Incidentally I did a post Super-Human a while ago, forgetting super-heroes need help sometimes.)

I listened to Joel Osteen the other day and He was talking of the kind of friendship people make. While I ask myself the following questions I advice you do same.

-Do my friends challenge or criticise me?

-Do my friends encourage or discourage me?

-Do my friends drag me up or pull me down?

-Do my friends have faith or doubt in me?

 When Elizabeth met Mary at just the greeting the baby within her leaped. There are people who have been placed to cause a leap in our belly. If I want to soar like the Eagle I should stop eating with the Chicks. One would ask won’t you end up been selfish cos you’re only in the relationship for your gains what of those I’m supposed to help. My answer, pray for wisdom to discern. There is time for everything. I should know when to use my time wisely. I should know who I call a close friend and always ask this question Am I better off or worse than when I met you?

The End

I hope this will inspire you to take a critical look at your relationships; go a step further and ask yourself, are you a worthy friend to be kept in someone’s inner circle? “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them” Matthew 7:12 MSG.

Friend & Banana

LOADS OF LOVE

JMAD.

Photo Credit: Google