5 October 2016

Nigeria: Inspiring Stories of Selflessness At Nigeria Refugee Camps

Lagos — A global organisation working to protect and restore religious freedom around the world has lauded the bravery and selflessness by some displaced professionals counteracting the pain and suffering experienced by fellow victims of the Boko Haram crisis.

The admiration follows a recent tour of northeast Nigeria by executives of the United States-based 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative (21CWI).

Nathan Wineinger, Director of Public Policy, and Executive Vice President, Elijah Brown, traveled to Nigeria at the invitation of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

"That part of the trip that impacted me the most was not our meetings; rather, it was meeting the people who have been displaced and are living in temporary camps, seeing and hearing first-hand their suffering, and most importantly, their hope," said Wineinger.

At Gurku Interfaith Camp, they interacted with people who were working to counteract the pain and suffering Boko Haram has inflicted on victims.

Dr Luka Saidu is displaced from Borno State, the area hardest hit by the terrorists.

He takes no payment for the basic health services he offers.

Saidu dispenses medicines donated by non-governmental organizations to combat malaria, typhoid and worms.

When I asked if any scripture has been important to him in this work, he is quoted as inspired by the prophet Zechariah, "It is not by your power or might, it is by my spirit."

Another example of courage in the face of persecution, among many, is IIbrahim Dauda, who was leading prayers in his church when Boko Haram attacked, spraying the congregation with bullets as they scrambled for safety.

Later he was kidnapped but escaped after falling out of a car, wrestling a terrorist, and running for two kilometers to safety.

Dauda, a teacher, is standing up to Boko Haram, which means, "Western Education is Forbidden."

Using tree cover as their classrooms, he and four others hold school for the children in the camp to give them a future.

Education is one of the issues the camp Chairman, a Mr Adawara, cited as being a key challenge.

Another is the lack of medicine. It is evident the adults in the camp care most about their children, 21CWC officials said.

Officials said although the future was uncertain, locals were working to build peace that will give their children hope, despite not being able to go home, food shortages, despite living conditions.

"We don't talk of our wealth, we talk of our faith," said Saidu.

United Nations has declared massive famine is imminent in Nigeria and the surrounding Lake Chad area, with about six million people severely food insecure due to Boko Haram insecurity.

In the next 12 months, as many as 80 000 children will die of starvation in northern Nigeria, in what UN officials called the "biggest crisis facing any of us, anywhere."

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