Skip to main content

Nigerian Peacework by a good friend



Widows From the Violence: Finding Healing in Mutual Support by Peggy Faw Gish

Naomi & Hope among the most vulnerable of the victims of Boko Haram, are the women in Nigeria who have not only lost their homes and family possessions, but also their husbands, and have to find a way to care for themselves and their children alone.  In my three months among them, I have met a number of such women, but three, I have come to know more personally.
Naomi  One-year-old “Hope” crawls around on the floor of the reception area at the headquarters of EYN (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria, or the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) in Jos.  She has a quick smile and inquisitive face.  Every time she heads toward the door to the outside steps, Naomi, her mother, gets up and catches her just in time.  Naomi was working as a secretary at the former headquarters near Mubi, when Boko Haram attacked there on October 29, 2014.
She and her daughters, Blessing (18) and Hope (1) fled with throngs of others. Her husband, Bello Philip Mwada, and their three sons, Moses, Emmanuel, and Haruna, who left a little later, were shot and killed by Boko Haram fighters. She believes that her husband, a member of the Nigerian Police Force, was targeted because several times he found out that militant fighters were coming to a particular community, and he warned the residents to flee.  Now they live in Jos and she works at the temporary EYN headquarters. Blessing will soon be finishing secondary school, and hopes to be able to go to a university, but does not know how she will do that financially.
 In spite of her losses and grief, Naomi expressed her grateful for the EYN community which has helped her during these difficult times, and to God who gives her strength.  One day, as I sat with Naomi in the reception room, tears came to our eyes as we spoke of the pain and fear any woman faces losing her husband suddenly, not to mention the added trauma of going back and finding his and their sons’ bodies and arranging to have them buried.

 Elizabeth  I met Elizabeth, from Mubi, in a week-log trauma healing workshop.  During a time provided for participants to share what they went through, she poured out her anguish. Others listened caringly and allowed her to release some of the pain and anger. “When Boko Haram attacked,” she told the group, “My husband and three children disappeared while they were trying to escape, and are still missing, so I believe they are dead. All my property is damaged or stolen. It took me four days to get to a place of refuge.” When the group discussed forgiveness, she spoke out and said, “Now, I want to forgive.”  During the lunch break, Elizabeth and I walked around the grounds of the retreat center. Though she knew little English, she pointed out to me the cashew, guava, maringa and other fruit bearing trees, and told me their names in the Hausa language. I could see that she was finding healing in connecting not only with others who are going through a similar healing process, but also with the beauty and life-giving vegetation of her native land.

 Monica  One of the more difficult stories I heard, however, was from Monica.  In 2009, in the middle of the night, Boko Haram fighters entered their home in the town of Michika.  Monica witnessed them beheading her husband, and cutting the throats of two of her three sons, killing them. Next, they turned to her and brutally cut her left arm as she raised her arm to defend herself. Then they cut her throat and left her for dead.  A neighbor found her, still alive, and took her to the hospital. Since then, she has had numerous surgeries to repair her throat and her arm, and yet, more are needed. But even harder for her, has been dealing with the trauma of her attack and the loss of her husband and two sons. Now, she and her remaining son live in Jos.
 I occasionally see her and Naomi talking quietly together as they pause from their work. Amazing to me is the strength she demonstrates as she keeps walking ahead, choosing life. She attributes this to her faith, but also to the prayers, comfort and support given her from other widows and friends.  Life is not easy for Naomi, Elizabeth, and Monica, and many other widows due to the violence. Like others, they have been uprooted and are uncertain about their future home and means of support. All three, like others who’ve been displaced, receive food and supplies when it distributed by EYN or other NGOs. All, having participated in a trauma healing workshop for widows, understand that their grief and pain will not quickly dissipate.  They face and feel aloneness, yet are not completely alone.  They find healing as they express their pain and seek to forgive. And they find healing not only as others support them, but as they, in turn, give loving support to others also dealing with loss.  Peggy Faw Gish

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Outside the Box

Dear Friends,       Outside the Box I am here to share about making peace with Isis nonviolently. I came to this in my quiet time when I first heard of Isis. My response was, “I’m a pacifist so I prayed, “Lord, they are such bad people the only thing I know to do is get rid of them. Bomb them.” I suppose Jesus’ disciples, and many people today like me, might have had a similar response.
So I prayed, “Lord, I’m a pacifist. Show me Jesus’ way, there must be a better way.”Lo and behold I just happened to be reading pages in the book The Powers that Be where Walter Wink says “for every conflict there is a nonviolent answer” I prayed, “Lord, I don’t believe it, show me.” Then what came to me was we need first to understand what creates Isis support, why they hate us, what makes people join these terrorists, and to find a good solution. What if you went home tonight and your house looked like this?

(I pass out this picture of homes bombed by drones) And your family was killed by a US drone? Wo…

A Temper Tantrum

Dear friends: A Temper Tantrum On a shopping trip to Aldi’s I noticed a mother with a girl who was two and a boy who was one sitting together in her cart.. The boy was having a temper tantrum. I know how embarrassing that can be. Besides she was just beginning to shop. So I thought maybe I could help settle him down. So I went over and tried to talk to him. But he would have nothing to do with me. So I just started talking to his sister. “How old are you? What’s your name? How old is your brother? . “What is his name? She replied “Noah.” Hearing his name the boy started to quiet down and pay attention. After some more question and answers the kids and I shook hands and said goodbye. Then we both did our shopping. We passed each other several times. The kids would say “Hi” and wave each time we saw each other. Then as we went through the checkout the mother remarked, “Thank you so much, what is your name?” the kids waved saying “Goodby…

Korea Peace Healing our Divided couhtry

Dear friends “Healing Our Divided Country” First I rejoice at the North and South Korea peace agreement. I suggest you go to the link democracy now.org for a very good interview of an American coronel who resigned in protest against the afghan war, and even though she opposes most of trumps doings she gives surprising hopeful insights about the accords. “I have a friend who recently told me he thinks we should deport all undocumented persons. And we should just do away with those who disagree. We are quite good friends we play soft ball together. How do I begin to talk to him?” shared a student at George Fox University in Oregon. The professor suggested, “Well you have some common ground in softball. Maybe that would be a good place to start.” The prof added, “Just about every student enter the conversations that was great.” This was from one of the 10 times I shared in Oregon. Here is our Emily with her family that I shared about in the last letter. I am glad to report that donation for …