Some of the first places the Lord led us to minister to during our initial trips were the IDP (Internally Displaced People) Camps. Before moving to Nigeria permanently, we traveled to these locations several times. These camps mostly consist of refugees seeking safety and shelter after being driven out of their villages by the Fulani Herdsman.
The Fulani are an Islamic tribe throughout West Africa with a significant population in Nigeria. They are predominantly nomadic, and make their living by herding and trading cattle. There are many radicalized groups of Fulani who have taken up the Islamic Jihad movement and have targeted Christian villages to seize lands needed for their cattle to graze, as well as to achieve their extreme religious beliefs by exterminating Christians.
These Fulani Herdsman attacks are devastating. They pillage and burn down the villages. Many people are ruthlessly killed in their wake of destruction. The villages are purposely left uninhabitable and those who escape seek never to return.
While there is an effort by the government to bring an end to these attacks, we believe it is crucial for us to focus on the needs of these 300,000+ refugees within the IDP Camps until they can be resettled. The people came into the camps carrying only what they could grab as they fled for their lives. There is currently no organized effort in place to assist this forgotten group. When our team visited for the first time to assess the crises and pray directly with the distraught refugees, two requests immediately emerged:
- The ability to bathe. The women in the camps whispered privately to the women on our team that they needed water to bathe. Most of the people in the camps have no ability to wash themselves or attend to their most basic hygiene needs, and go days without bathing in temperatures normally above 100F. Many of the camps do not have good access to clean water and certainly not soap or other cleaning products.
- Food. Food is extremely limited. There is constant urgent need for even basic food provisions.
Our goals with the IDP Camps are the following:
- Ensure each camp has access to sustainable, clean water by drilling wells directly in the camps
- Provide monthly hygiene kits for the people through donations from local and international organizations and individuals
- Construct shower stalls for people in the camps to take showers and clean themselves
- Provide support for education within the camps by supplying school supplies and educational training.