By Pat Krabacher
On Feb. 9, John and I visited the Wulari EYN Maiduguri church of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in the large northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri. We met the EYN HIV/AIDS Project staff, and met the new pastor Joseph T. Kwaha. The church was rebuilt in 2015 after it was bombed by Boko Haram and totally destroyed in June 2009. We also visited the EYN IDP camp of 8,000 displaced persons located nearby on an old church compound.
Impressive work is being done by the 20-person HIV/AIDs Project staff who manage four programs with international NGOs: Save the Children--food security, livelihood, nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene; UNICEF--child protection and follow-up; Christian Aid (UK)--nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene; Family Health Initiative--HIV/AIDs, strengthening integrated delivery of HIV/AIDS services.
The staff manage the feeding programs under USAID Food for Peace, community mobilization, and livelihood support benefitting 11,000 people in eight Local Government Areas (LGA) in Borno State, with the help of 255 EYN volunteers. A new program has just started that targets 10,000 households with food vouchers, targets 1,200 “acutely malnourished” children in Konduga LGA, and will drill 20 boreholes and build 25 toilets in Konduga LGA of Borno State. The work of the EYN team is impressive!
Our visit to the nearby EYN IDP camp brought us into the “beehive” of life for displaced people. Plastic UNHCR (United High Commissioner for Refugees) tarpaulins predominated, with hundreds of small children playing, wailing, or just staring at us--the first white people they may have seen. IDP camp chairman John Gwamma introduced us to new people who had just arrived in the camp--an elderly women who had been abducted by Boko Haram and held in Sambisa Forest, and a young new mother who was alone in a small tent with her newborn daughter, born just that morning.
A bright spot of the visit was some evidence of the selling of grains, beans, and other items among the IDPs, two tailors at work, and some children attending school. This EYN camp does not have a school, but a second camp of about 900 IDPs at Shuwari, which we did not visit, has a small school.
Poignant moments remain with us from our visit to the EYN IDP camp, including the story of John who was the first IDP from Gwoza to arrive in Maiduguri. His story shared the pain he and others have endured, watching family being killed, and not eating for 21 days while running from Boko Haram. Also poignant was our meeting with the old woman abducted from Gwoza, who has suffered but when greeted smiled back and tried to give us her cup of rice porridge. We laughed, but her love and care remain with us.
Much more needs to be done to support these vulnerable displaced people, and prayer will surely help them.
-- Pat and John Krabacher are Brethren Volunteer Service workers and volunteers with the Nigeria Crisis Response, a cooperative venture of the Church of the Brethren and Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Find out more at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis .