By Victor Bajah
A faith based organization, Scripture Union West Africa (SUWA), recently donated items worth millions of naira, and trained over 420 IDPs at the IDP camp opposite Federal Housing Estate, along Federal University of Agriculture road in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Speaking to newsmen, the Executive Director of SUWA, Dr Rhoda Udanyi, also referred to as Mama SUWA, said they were in Makurdi to improve the living condition of the IDPs by donating food items, sanitary pads to young girls and women, toiletries, and a post trauma and non violence gender-based training for men and women.
“We came here basically to do the UN women project, violence against women. But when we got here, we discovered that we cannot just talk about SGBV, we saw the condition of these people and as a Christian organization, we decided to take a holistic approach by meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people. We have been running a trauma programme for the past three months, and since we started it, we have seen significant improvements in the health and livelihood of the people who are being liberated from depression and poverty among others,” she said.
Dr Udanyi explained that the organization had made efforts to tackle the health challenge of young girls by providing international approved sanitary pads that would last for three years, among many other hygiene related items like sanitizers, soaps, detergents and many more. She said, the NAFDAC approved pads were more economical in a biting economic condition of the IDPs.
She also charged the women to take care of the items given and expressed appreciation to the donor, HAMIN, a Netherlands based international organization for their partnership.
The SUWA Gender Project Manager, Mrs Gladys Madubuike expressed happiness for her organization’s proactive move to ease the living condition of the IDPs, especially the women and girls who were the main recipients of the items donated. She said, “our last visit to this IDP camp exposed us to things that were heartbreaking. At a point, most of us shed tears at the plight of the people. We began making efforts to intervene in their lives by raising support awareness. This will be the second time we are coming here to donate items to the IDPs. Today, we are concerned with distributing hygiene kits to them, especially the women. We are delighted; the ‘Journey to Healing’ trauma program6 (JONI) has impacted their lives in meaningful ways.”
In his response, the Benue State Coordinator of SUWA, Mr Terhemba Gbasha said the living condition of the IDPs has improved significantly since SUWA began its Intervention programme. He noted that, JONI programme which began at the camp since March, 2021 has recorded positive attitudinal changes in both the men and women.
Mr Gbasha praised the supervisory role played by the state government through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Ministry of Education, Makurdi and Tarka Local Governments for their efforts to make the programmes initiated by SUWA a success in the state.
According to him, “SUWA has trained 375 women and 50 men in this IDP camp alone. We are also working in selected schools in Makurdi and Tarka Local Government Areas, and conducting trainings in partnership with health workers and security operatives in the state.”
Earlier, Rev. Sam Udanyi spoke to the people on their need to embrace Jesus Christ and commit themselves to serving God as a means to trauma healing. He charged the people to take advantage of their present situation, knowing that God had not forsaken them but was working in their lives to take them to a better end.
In their responses, some of the participants, Mrs Juliana Ugbir, Mrs Mkaanen Iormbaga, Mr Tilenenge David and Mr Aondowase Ibya praised the efforts of SUWA to better their lives. They noted that what the organization did in their lives was God sent and an answer to their desperate conditions.
While they took turns eulogizing the trainings they had participated in, they noted that rape and violence against spouses were inhuman and should be condemned by all. They also called on many more organizations to emulate the gesture of SUWA by helping to alleviate the plight of IDPs in the camp.