By Ralph Madugu
The atmosphere at the conference Hall of the ECWA Headquarters, Jos, on May 11, 2021, aptly captured the scenario in the Biblical story of that one leper who returned in thanksgiving to God after being healed of leprosy as recorded in Luke’s gospel.
It was a day the Kabong Central Community, in Jos North LGA of Plateau State, led by their Women Leader, Ngo Rhoda Wang, and youth leader, Sylvanus Boniface, led others to the office of The Community Integrated Health Development (TEAM-CIHDA), that arm of ECWA saddled with the sole mission of building the capacity of churches, communities and individuals to promote health, on a visit to show appreciation for how the organization, through its various intervention programmes, had impacted the community.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Sylvanus Boniface announced that the essence of their visit was to show gratitude to TEAM-CIHDA for the various interventions carried out within their community which had impacted positively on them.
Said he: “We are grateful for this privilege. The bible tells us about the story of the lepers who were healed and only one returned to show gratitude for what was done to him. We the need for us to come and show our gratitude for what TEAM CIHDA did to us in Kabong central community.
“What TEAM CIHDA has done has impacted our lives as a community. I can say that we are here for Thanksgiving to TEAM CIHDA. This is also an opportunity to tell the world what TEAM-CIHDA has done for us. Several NGOs have visited our community, yet we have not felt their impact the way we have benefitted from TEAM. Hand sanitizers, hand wash liquid soap, facemasks were distributed including cash transfer to members of our community. Some of us benefitted from the training on Sexual and Gender Based Violence which was quite educative and we have also enlightened some of our youths on the dangers of SGBV. We did not come with money or anything but a letter of appreciation to TEAM-CIHDA.”
In her own remarks, Mrs. Rhoda Wang, who was visibly happy, said that they were on a thank you to visit to TEAM-CIHDA because it “came as a visitor to us and you came with good things hence it behooves on us as a community to look for you, where you are and say thank you for all the things you brought to our community.
“We are only few who have come on behalf of the community. We are here on behalf of our community. We are here to say thank. It is God who knows how He will reward you. TEAM-CIHDA has done what pleases God. You have become our neighbours. We are here to thank you. Many could not make it to this visit. We did not offer you anything but you brought a lot to protect us against diseases. We are grateful.”
Some of the beneficiaries took turns to speak on how the various interventions had impacted their lives.
For Mrs. Yop Sunday and Mrs. Jummai Daniel, widows who were among the beneficiaries of the cash transfer intervention, their visit was to “show gratitude for what TEAM-CIHDA has done to us widows.”
Mrs. Yop Sunday,59, a widow and mother of 5, could not hide her joy as she narrated how the TEAM-CIHDA cash transfer impacted her life and that of her children thus: “We are so grateful for this kind gesture towards us. I believe it is God that put in your hearts to come to our aid.
“During the COVID-19, the Lord used TEAM-CIHDA to wipe our tears. This financial assistance has made it possible for some of our community members to venture into petty trading. A lot of NGOs have not done the way TEAM-CIHDA has done to us. Most times such gesture are done based on who you know but TEAM did this not on the basis of familiarity. It is God that will bless and reward you. Frankly speaking these hand wash, hand sanitizer and facemask you distributed to us has helped us and even our grandchildren. Each time our children are going to school, we give it to them.
“In fact they have become used to it. They no longer wait for us to tell them to take it along when going to school. Even the facemask is not only being used against COVID-19 but it helps us against bad smell within the environment. It helps us to breathe well. These things have helped in improving our personal hygiene. We pray God to bless the various sources from where the funds came from.”
Mrs. Jummai Daniel, a mother of 8 and widow, in her own testimony said: “I feel as if your visit to Kabong was specifically because of me. I am a widow with 7 children.
“My rent had expired and there was no money for me to pay my landlord. In fact, my children’s school fees were yet to be paid. It got to a point where we had concluded to relocate to our village because we could not afford to pay the rent. It was when TEAM-CIHDA came to our aid that I was able to renew our house rent, pay the children school fees and even undertake some repairs on the house we are living in.
“All I have to say is thank you. It is only God that will reward you. I pray that He will open more doors for TEAM-CIHDA to do more for people who are in need. I am grateful.”
Responding, Coordinator of TEAM-CIHDA, Mr. Ezekiel Bala, could not hide his joy, described the visit as a confirmation that people were taking notice of the activities of TEAM-CIHDA which would further encourage them to do more, adding that the visit was a further confirmation that TEAM-CIHDA had established a cordial working relationship with Kabong Central community.
“I was under tension because I did not know why you people said you were coming when I get the information concerning your visit to our office. I didn’t know what you were coming to say. We thank you for the visit. We also thank you for the accolades and gratitude you have expressed to TEAM-CIHDA as a community.
“Your coming is an indication that we have established a mutual working relationship. We will convey your message to our donors and we want to assure you that we will continue to work with your community. We solicit for more cooperation from your community. You have shown TEAM-CIHDA that you really appreciate what we have done to your community.
“We did not target only ECWA members but we did to people of Kabong Central irrespective of denomination. TEAM-CIHDA is an ECWA arm that is out to serve the public. As an organization we have our criteria and we work based on our guidelines.”
He used the visit to remind them that COVID-19 is still around hence the need not to relent in observing the non-pharmaceutical measures against the pandemic.
“We want to remind you that covid-19 is still around and we plead that we make use of the non-pharmaceutical items that were distributed. Let us not be tired of observing the COVID-19 protocols especially hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and use of facemask.”
The occasion featured distribution of hand sanitizers to each member of the visitors while the highpoint of the event was the presentation of a letter of appreciation to the management of TEAM-CIHDA.
Recall that The ECWA Aids Ministry, an arm of ECWA whose goal is to promote healthy living in Nigeria with a vision of a sustained Christian response thereby facilitating transformation towards empowering communities towards healthy living, in January this year embarked on interventions in Kabong Central Community with the distribution of hand wash liquid soap, hand sanitizers and facemask to over 150 households and cash transfer to 750 households each comprising 6 persons per household.
TEAM-CIHDA also carried out sensitization and awareness by distributing posters and fliers carrying various messages on issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and the various means of prevention among other messages. They also carried out advocacy visits to community leaders.