Edo IDPs: accommodation, food remains major challenge – Pastor Folorunsho
Solomon Abumere Folorunsho is the coordinator, IDP Camp, Uhogua, Edo State, and Pastor, International Christian Centre for Missions. He is an interviewer delight any day, anytime. He is head, Management of the Centre which started a home for the needy years back but seemingly by dint of faith became home to over 2,000 IDPs since 2013. In an interview with our Edo State Bureau Chief, Abavo Kingsley, Folorunsho in his charismatic manner expressed gratitude to God, Government, individuals and groups that have supported for the height attained in his chosen field; rendering humanitarian services to mankind, especially success with the IDPs. He speaks on the current general situation at the Camp.
Welfare and Challenges:
Government has and is still playing its part; through the Custom Authority, consignment of rice, clothes and vegetable oil was given to the in – mates, it gave us security, and industrial bore – hole have just been sunk. For us, the Government has done well. They recognize what we are doing and have given us this support; it is quite encouraging for us. Apart from Government, individuals and various groups have given succor to the in – mates. But the main source to running this place, is the offering from the churches in our ministries that we always put together, in addition to what people bring.
Folorunsho expressed gratitude for the height attained in the journey so far; “When we started, we didn’t know where we were going, we were just going by faith, trusting God. Today, everybody can see that it was God ordained.”
Here, accommodation is just one of the many challenges. The situation has slightly improved from when we started; at least now they have a place to sleep though it is tight, so now we are moving from not having a place to sleep, to having a place to sleep. So, we are also going to move from having a congested place to sleep, to when we will be having a comfortable place to sleep. We are faith people, we have hope and that hope have always carried us and we are going to continue to be hopeful trusting God that He will keep touching people that at every point and need, that He will send someone, or a group of people.
Threat of diseases out break due to congested accommodation
We have had several outbreaks of diseases and we overcame. So far at the moment, we don’t have any outbreak apart from issues that goes with rainy season like malaria, fever for example. Experts often come around to educate us on the need to keep clean environment, sanitation, hygiene ecetera and this has gone a long way to help us enjoy good health.
Christian organization caring for the less privileged
Actually, we didn’t start as an IDP camp, it is a Church that started an arm to care for the less privileged, the needy in the society which we were doing since 1992 before the IDPS came. It is their turn, and when the IDP phase is over, we are going to keep doing what we are doing until there is no more needy person in the society. It is not something we intend to stop with the IDPs because we didn’t start with the IDPs. But the IDPs are very much in our hearts like others because you can’t imagine what they have been through.
Farming in Camp
It was observed that the in – mates are engaged in serious farming geared towards providing part of their food needs instead of wholly depending on donors. Pastor Folorunsho explains: The farming we are doing here, there is what we call general farming which is for everybody, we also realize some of them have children that are in school, we want to give them some liberty to be able to have some minimal comfort to have a semblance of how they were living so that in that process, they can gradually start creating a sphere of environment to re – integrate back to the society as things get better. So with such, we don’t control what they do with the produce that comes out of the farms. But recently something happened, the widows harvested corn from their farm and they told me the harvest was much, much for them as individual to consume, and that they want to sell and we needed corn, I bought the corn and gave to the children. So they were able to have some money, and were happy. It is a growing thing and I see it metamorphosing into something very big. Of course before we allow them farm now, we had first worked on their mentality making sure they come out of trauma, and they now have hope, they have life, they can live again. The other farms we make, those of age 18 and above work on these farms. The harvest is for everyone and we also discover that they want to have their little gardens hence we give them little portions to plant their crops; I discover that they know a lot about vegetables and when they want to cook their own food, they collect vegetables and add something. It is very interesting how it works.
General camp condition
In – fact, it has greatly improved. I must thank God, thank everyone who are reading or hearing this; otherwise what we saw last year, two, three years ago, is nothing compared to what the situation is now. But that doesn’t take away there is still a yawning gap to be filled. However comparatively, the situation in camp now has greatly improved.
So many! Textbooks; the children are in third term now, apart from the SS3 class, the other classes do not have text books, only notebooks. As the new academic session will be starting soon, there is the challenge of notebooks and textbooks. We need solar street light to help security in camp at night, we need electricity as we just burn petrol, and diesel every day. This is as food remains constant challenge. I told you that we have rice, vegetable oil but we need other food varieties even fruits. Also, we need drugs at this moment for malaria, fever, stomach ulcer, even skin diseases.
Health expertise in camp
We do have, but we need more. If we didn’t have qualified hands we would have gotten a disaster here. The proof that we have qualified hands is evident in the life of everyone here. Though there is no medical doctor on ground at the moment except for Youth Coppers but they will come and go.
Any attempt to hand over school to government due to funding challenges
[Laughs] Handing it over to government, I think that is out of the picture. The Government has much in their hands, they have partnered with us. Anybody who wants to help doesn’t need to take over, if somebody wants to help your family for example, doesn’t need to take your wife from you and take your children. But I think everyone including Government is welcomed to help. We want to be at liberty to continue the work we are doing. The State government has done much for us; the immediate past Governor, Adams Oshiomhole personally told me; Pastor, this is my contribution to encourage you in the humanitarian work that you are doing. I will never forget him.
How many classrooms built by Oshiomhole
Eight classrooms blocks and furnished. Every day I see those buildings; I am always clapping for him. I wish he can see my hands.
Allegation of trafficking in humans
I pray that God should forgive such people. What I would have wished for people making the allegations is that they will be taken to where they want these people to go. I just pray whoever they are that God should let them go experience what these people have experienced. Even at the moment their God will create a scenario for them to be living there. If they stay there where they want these people to go to at this moment for at least three weeks; I think they will sing a new song. So, I pray God forgive them but that is what I recommend for them because I think they are speaking from point of ignorance not knowing what is actually going on here, what we are doing here or just out of sheer wickedness. More than 400 IDPs here have reintegrated back to their families. Even it was in the news when 57 families came and the former Governor gave each of them N150, 000, they took their children out of here. Where were these people when the Red Cross came, they do their own thing, and link families together, these people go to sleep? You know there are people who have no job, they are professional critics but I used to feel pain when I hear these things but somehow, they are necessary medicine that we need to keep us on our toes because if they don’t criticize us some of us could want to derail. But when you know they are always there, if you are tempted to derail, you know there are some people who have no job but their job is you. [Laughs sarcastically]. But to be candid with you, we don’t have such heart. I wasn’t that hungry when I started this work yes, it is possible that others may be doing it somewhere; some people are profiting from the misfortune of others but here we are completely not like that. We have our own job; we are pastors, we have many churches, we are people not only in Nigeria who preach in several countries and God has always helped us. But this is a project that is for everybody and every one of us should put hands together. This is just a little out of the much there; this one is nothing to compare to the suffering and I don’t know why somebody will sit down in his comfort zone and be nosing around falsely against a very noble work that others are doing. And another thing; we should also ask these people to have some level of evidence to show for their accusation. Let them show where we have done things that are close to what they are talking about. But like I said, you cannot tell somebody who has mouth not to talk so God bless them.
Pastor Folorunsho said because of the current congested accommodation, the Centre do not easily admit new IDPs except for exceptional case on the confirmation of the security agencies. “But the rush and the speed with which it was, is no more like that.”
This he said could be attributable to the Military conquest of the Boko – Haram scourge in the North East. He disclosed that the IDPs have often talked about their homes that he is becoming passionate and even would want to go with them to their native home. “In – fact they are like the children of Israel who remember Zion.Each and every one of them, carry memories of their communities, memories of their families; it is so much in each and every one of them that today when peace is restored, most people here will gladly go back to their home; even myself, I will like to experience the life over there. They are very passionate about their own place. They tell me Pastor, if they want to put us in another place, we don’t want to go. But if it is our place they are taking us to, we will love to go.
Level of education and family background
When we probe to know his education and family background, in his charismatic manner, he just laughed, and said; “My education is just the word of God, it is just the Bible. Well, it is good to be circularly educated but thank God that I went to school. But I think I just want to be known as a servant of God; that is enough degree, enough title for me. And I want to be known as someone who served humanity; I don’t want any other thing to be ascribed to me. So if anybody wants to know who I am, I am just a child of God, a servant of God who is serving humanity and who appreciate God for what He did for him. I think if God allow me to be a master in serving the needy, and be a Professor in wiping peoples’ tears, I think that is good for me.
Keeping all information concerning his family background close to his chest, he simply said; that the IDPs are his family members, and wife. [Laughing] he said; “I think we should leave that.”