Nigeria, Christmas For Refugees Update
Our Easter event at the orphanage had to be cut short to move children out of the camp for safety. My heart was touched by how much the children truly appreciated the Christmas program we organized in December. They proudly wore the shoes we gave them for Christmas, although one younger boy apparently had been carrying his shoes around because he wanted them to last longer.
Different age groups did Bible recitations and sang. Most of the program was organized by “house,” and the houses are organized by the age of the children. Being a witness of this program is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.
The “houses” or “hostels” are perhaps not what you have in mind. Twenty or more children have mattresses on the ground that literally touch each other. Each child has a personal space of maybe 12 to 15 sq. ft. — or about 3 feet by 5 feet. Still, they are better off than in a state institution. They receive a good education along with the good news of the Gospel.
There is, however, a serious lack of protein. While in Benue State, I stopped at the home of the chairman of the board of the school and gave him a donation of $2,000 for protein rich foods including soy and fish meal for soups.
The orphanage is under constant threat as are all Christian institutions in the “Middle Belt.” The “North Belt” is overwhelmingly Muslim and the “South Belt” is overwhelmingly Christian. The Christians are under attack in the North and Middle Belts. All we can really do is show love and support by helping wherever we can — for example with sanitation for the kids.
As I mentioned above, there are over 20 children per building. Each building has a “squatting toilet,” and as the name implies there is no seat. Not so long ago in rural areas of the United States, families had facilities not far removed from these types of “toilets.” 2008 presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, who was governor of Arkansas, grew up in a home with a dirt floor and a similar outhouse. But having over 200 kids using these facilities is not healthy!
There is a means to flush to a septic tank, but this is not done under pressure as are the toilets in your home.
There is also just not sufficient water for the toilets to be properly flushed. What is needed is a second water tower and PVC pipe nearer to the buildings furthest away. The water tower is not a major undertaking; it is merely a 100-gallon tank raised up about 15 feet off the ground on a platform.
Of course, for any of this to work, a new well and well pump is needed. Thankfully we will not be dealing with American price structures. I expect a reasonable budget, and I am currently awaiting estimates for a new well and holding tank. I will first look at the estimate and then at our current budget before moving forward.
Some of what is needed is not available in their area and it may be a little longer before I have the information on costs to share with you.