In this focus area, we provide young people with awareness, education and information on healthy living especially in the area of sexual and reproductive adolescent health information and access to services through the promotion of safe and responsible sexual behavior, in contribution to the MDG 4 and 6 “reducing child mortality by two-thirds and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Furthermore, SAID promotes and improves the health, environment, educational, adequate nutrition and better standards of living of the community especially for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), women, the elderly and other vulnerable groups in the society; and mitigate the impacts of HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, social and economic burdens of disease such as Diabetics, stroke and Poverty on them, and provide them with psycho-social support. (SAID officer conducting rapid testing).
The story of Jonathan and his health condition- how communities should not be built!
It is important to note that the name ‘Jonathan’ is not this person’s real name. I am sharing this true story with mixed feelings. It is a true story that happened this week in our autonomous community in Amato, Alike Ikenanzizi Obowo, Imo state.
I wish to say that this is not the only case where I have intervened in our community. I have done so in many other cases. There was the case where the entire age grade could not contribute up to N6,000 needed for physcian's consultation for a member of their age grade. We all need to begin to speak out if we want things to change. Tragically, we lost that member of the community.
Since the inception of Nigeria sister organization of SpringAid International Development in 2009, we have been involved in health and wellbeing promotion, ranging from HIV, PMTCT, Malaria, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure prevention in many communities across Nigeria.
Throughout the Igbo land, there is the fight or clamour for the creation of more autonomous communities, ceremoniously ruled by Ezes or Igwes. This fight has often led to the fragmentation or destabilization of many communities. Consequently, many communities have been rendered ungovernable, in some cases many atrocities are committed including assassination of perceived opponents for influence and power. In Igbo land, there has always been the belief that autonomous communities lead more to effective and better development at the grassroot level.
While this fighting for the creation of more autonomous communities might be desirable, the experience is that it is failing to produce the desired result in many cases. One would have thought that people who openly advocate and claim to want to see their communities, grow, develop, have unity, peace and prosperous would care and share in the joys and sorrows of one another, the contrary is the case in many autonomous communities.
Our experience is that most people would identify with one who is bereaved, donating generously for the burial of the dead, but would hardly contribute a dime when approached to help the sick receive medical attention.
Community is described to be a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It could also be explained to mean a group of people sharing or having certain attitude and interest in common. Community development depicts the patriotic passion and love of the indigenous people of a community to enhance their livelihood and that of the generations yet unborn. A major reason for self-help approach adopted is the general in many Igbo communities is the negligence or ineptitude of governments of different levels.
I have personally noticed that many who give in our community only give in public where they will be praised by all. When it comes to helping even their own family members in need, they develop cold feet. It is no longer tenable for people to walk to the Eze and offer N50, 000 or N100, 000 to receive a chieftaincy title.
Those who aspire to receive such honours need to account to the community what public good they have done for the entire community or for a good number of its members. It should not be about sharing some bags of rice, beans, indommie, and wrappers to some women. The question should be about empowering community members with help-to self-help in sustainable businesses and support in education, the greatest investment a community can make.
Recently, precisely about three weeks ago, I approached 5 well off members of our community in respect of a community member in his sixties who had a life threatening health condition. One of those I approached lives in the US and by all standards one of the riches and influential members of our community. I presented the case of this sick man who all know to be a one of the most humble, kindly and a true Christian member of our community if there is anyone that merits that name.
My request to them was for us to help this brother of ours receive the medical attention he urgently needed. One of them told me he would go home think about it and revert. The other told me he would certainly contribute, another said he would contribute fifty thousand naira (N50,000), while another who I have personally given work of hundreds of thousand since 2018 promised to contribute twenty thousand.
Remarkably, before my intervention in his case, this sick brother of ours informed me that he had gone round the community to the people who are seen as having the means, painfully to those he would consider as his friends in the community, none of them afford him any help including the brother living in the US.
We took the brother to JASMAN Hospital Udo and checks and tests were conducted and the doctor estimated that the surgery would cost between N400, 000 to N500 000 thousand naira (N400 000 – N500 000). I tried to reach out to the brothers who had promised to assist. I called them on the phone. When they were not picking, I sent them texts and communicated what the doctor said.
Only one of them latter picked my call after several attempts and informed him that the surgery had been successfully done and the day the patient would be discharged. He asked for my account details, the brother who has been a beneficiary of many of my projects, who promised N20, 000 asked for my bank details as well. Sadly, none of them has made any contribution and this brother of ours has been discharged.
Our organization was able to settle the bill with the contribution of the patient himself. The doctor said they did not expect the patient to survive the surgery as it was as the condition had reached a death threatening level. It was according to him a miracle that they patient lived until the surgery. We give thanks to the doctors and to God for a successful surgery.
How can a community that treats its members this way experience, unity, peace, development, and progress? How can a community that continues to show this level of apathy and indifference expects to live in harmony, peace, development and prosperity?
Life is like a circle. Those who are standing today, might not be those who are standing tomorrow. Many of the people standing today in our community, their parents were beneficiaries of other’s help. Why this selfishness and greed? Why this competition to be the richest in the community. You are making multimillion naira investments, but you are so tight fisted to assist a brother or sister that N5, 000 or N10, 000 naira might be a question of life and death.
This is a call to community members to be their brother’s keeper. In any community where you see development, there must be solidarity. There is today greater need for collaboration. We believe with this mindset and energy we can together create a community where our networking and empathy create strong social impact for all our community members. In this way, we can shape the community we all want, a community experiencing development, prosperity and offers our young one the best possibilities not only to grow but to thrive and be proud members of our community. We must care about community members who continue to struggle to break the bark of poverty and hunger, ill health, and unemployment.
It is my profound conviction that for any community to achieve the goal for its creation, members must be willing to make sacrifices such as selfless services, humanitarian services collaborate, with the interest of one another at heart which is aimed at helping each person realize his or her full potential. More importantly, there should be justice, accountability, commitment to the common good, and responsive leadership across all groups within the community.
The diaspora members of the community have an important role to play in this regard. We expect to learn from the experience of our diaspora brothers and sisters, who should not be seen playing local politics at home. We should be keen to push for positive change locally.
The Word of God promises that as we give, so shall it be given unto us in good measure.
When we bless others, we plant seeds of blessing that will return into our own lives.
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11:25). Together, we can make the difference.
Ifeanyi was a young man with little means who by chance met our founder. This was in 2015, our founder, Revd Fr Dr Chikezie Onuoha visited our office In Owerri, Imo State. As always the case, he decided to go on field work with us. It was to Umuguma we headed. Then we had completed the first phase of our Umuguma social housing.
As we were taking him around the building, he sighted a young man who came to have a look at the houses. This young man was not looking as if all were alright with him. Our founder went to him and asked if he were from that area.
He told our founder his difficult story. He was actually there to see if he could find some work to earn his daily bread. His living condition was little to be desired. Where he was living with his family of five was more or less a shack. His story touched our founder who then asked if we had given out all the apartments. Since there was one apartment that had not been allocated to anyone, he appealed to us to give the apartment to the young man and his family.
This was how Ifeanyi became the first owner of the apartments built in Umuguma. He was not housed but the apartment was given to him free of charge. The only condition is that beneficiaries cannot rent or sell the apartment to any other person if he or she earns enough more to build a house and wishes to move out.
In this video, Ifeanyi, who happened to be the first beneficiary saved enough money to buy two plots of land and built a 5- bedroom flat which is almost completed in Umuguma.
He has come to our office to appreciate SpringAid International Development (SAID Nigeria) for giving him the opportunity to own his own house.
Ifeanyi is a clear demonstration that our strategy for helping poor and marginalized people fight and lift themselves out of poverty is working. SAID Nigeria rejoices with and for him.