Be so good that no one can ignore you. That's what the Nigeria Foundation for the support of victims of terrorism, popularly known as Victims Support Fund (VSF) represent in Boko Haram ravaged areas of North East, particularly in Adamawa State.
When VSF was established in 2014 the time was ripe and the need so dear for such visionary organisation that would work with other stakeholders to deliver on its mandate of supporting the victims of terrorism and insurgency.
The story of VSF started during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan under the abled leadership of its chairman, Gen. T.Y Danjuma. The fund represented one of the many positive sides of President Buhari administration commitment to continuity of government laudable programmes.
Among other intervention agencies, the fund occupies a special place in its impact on the lives of victims in Adamawa, particularly in the Boko haram worst affected seven local government areas of Madagali, Mubi North, Mubi South, Maiha, Hong, Gombi and Michika Local Government areas of Adamawa.
It's heart warming to see education in the lead as the key component in VSF support to victims in Adamawa and other affected states. There is this saying that with gun you can kill a terrorist but with education you can kill terrorism. VSF has indeed took the right step forward and so far about a 100,000 children are benefitting from its educational interventions in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states..The beneficiaries include both victims and children of host communities.
While handing over some newly reconstructed classrooms in Michika to Adamawa authorities, the Executive Director of the fund, Prof. Sunday Ochoche explained that the fund is currently reconstructing about 25 schools in the three states. Out of the number, nine are in Adamawa comprising six in Madagali and three in Hong local government areas respectively.
The wonderful jobs by VSF are being done in partnership with credible indigenous NGOs who have proven their commitment to selfless service. One of such NGOs is the Education Must Continue Initiative (EMCI) which concentrated specifically on children directly affected by insurgents- including orphans in both Adamawa and Borno states. The NGO has set up schools in Yola the headquarters of Adamawa and Lassa town in Askira/Uba Local Government area of Borno state.
Founder of EMCI, Mrs Palmata Edward who is the first female graduate from North East noted that the school which cater for the education of about 2,000 children displaced from villages neigbouring Sambisa forest depended solely on VSF for support. All its classroom tents, desks, text books as well as other teaching and learning facilities were provided by the fund which is also looking into the possibility of providing its volunteer teachers with monthly stipend to boost their morale.
Ochoche who was impressed by the performance of the NGO school during his latest visit promised to provide uniform to the students, while the orphans among them would be considered for further support under the Foster Care Programme of VSF.
So far about 2,500 children are benefiting from the foster care programme of VSF in Adamawa. Under the programme, foster parents were being supported with monthly stipend of N14,000 for feeding, education and healthcare of of each orphans under their care. This laudable Programme identified orphans and vulnerable children and provide them a structure of protection.
Another Midas touch by VSF is in the area of enhancing small scale enterprises for women victims of the insurgency which has resulted in empowering 5000 women with the needed capital and guidance to be self reliant as normalcy returns to their respective communities.
Peace building among returnee communities is another vital aspect of the intervention by VSF in Adamawa where tensed relationship existing among the diverse people of the state-which has over 70 tribes was hightened by the insurgency that creating more suspicious among communities.
The peace building project involving clerics, community leaders and indigenous Civil Society Organizations is now in place. No wonder the latest sectarian violence in the state involving herdsmen and farmers has not been recorded in communities that are part of the fund peace building project.
A Japanese proverb says, You can't see the whole sky through a bamboo tube. In fact, a short write up like this cannot capture the whole positive impact the VSF has made and is still making in the north east and Adamawa in particular. However, the good people of the sub-region particularly those affected by the insurgency will continue to pray for more wisdom and God's guidance for government and officials of VSF as they continue the good and onerous take of assisting those struggling to pick up their lives once again.
As we awaits the take off of the much talked about North East Development Commission, VSF remains one of major facelift to many of us in the North East who experienced the Boko Haram face-off.
Yakubu Uba, Yolde-Pate ward, Yola South LGA, Adamawa State