Wednesday, November 25, 2015 12:47 pm
By Jethro Ibileke/Benin.
No fewer than 60 internally displaced persons from the Boko Haram insurgency are currently participating in this year’s examinations organised by the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB), in Edo State.
The students who are presently inmates of the International Christian Centre for Missions, located in Uhogua community, Ovia North-East local government area of the state, are among hundreds of displaced persons who fled the Boko Haram war-ravaged North-eastern states of the country.
Founder and Coordinator of the Centre, Pastor Solomon Folorunsho, made this disclosure during an interview with a section of journalists at the camp: “The children are writing their NABTEB exams. NABTEB made here a centre for their exam s. We enrolled about 60 students for the exams. They are very, very happy. I wish you could come here in the night and see how they read. They read and prepare so hard for their exams. The children are trying in terms of their education,” Folorunsho said.
He however noted that students at the Centre are grappling with several challenges and are in urgent need of text books and skill acquisition workshops and assistance with payment of the wage bill of teachers and other workers of the camp that runs over a million naira monthly.
“For the school, school is going on very well; from Kindergarten to SS 3. But we need text books, notebooks and other writing materials. We will also be glad if we could receive help to pay our staff. We have more than 70 teachers in the school. Our wage bill every month is over a million naira. We have youth corps members, aside from volunteers who come here to offer free service and a lot of them are university graduates. We need over a million naira to pay the teachers from KG, primary and secondary schools every month. We have promises, but we want the people to come and fulfil their promises because they are very skilful. So we need workshops, skill acquisition centres very, very urgently,” he said.
The cleric who conducted journalists round the camp, disclosed that the health conditions of inmates of the Camp numbering between 900 and 1000 and more than half of who are children orphaned by the Boko Haram insurgency, have greatly improved, courtesy of assistance from health care providers from across the state. “In the area of health, in fact, their health has improved, thanks to the help of private doctors, doctors from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Faith Mediplex and especially the Red Cross. The children are all healthy now and one of the pregnant women has been delivered of a baby girl, they are doing quite well,” he said.
Folorunsho also disclosed that the management of the International is working very hard to provide quality and comfortable accommodations for the inmates. “In the area of accommodation, formerly, they used to sleep in the outside, under the shade of the trees, but right now, nobody sleeps under the trees anymore. The donations we are getting from private individuals and different groups, we started using them to build more houses for the children. We are in the process of completing two big halls for their accommodation. They should be able to move into them by next week. In fact, it has been getting better and better.
“Everybody is living like one big family, you don’t have differences among them whether one is an orphan or not. We created an atmosphere for them that nobody feels any form of discrimination. You will not even know if one is an orphan or not. We give them home, they are very comfortable. We relate with them even better than many of them had ever experienced. Although father and mother cannot be substituted, we give them far more than that and we also offer them whatever will make their ambition come to reality, like education. We have done it before, we have inmates who have graduated [from university], who got a job and eventually got married. We intend to continue. Of course they are Nigerian citizens and government properties, so as far as government continues to support them, those that cannot continue their education can learn one skill or the other and then we help to re-integrate them back to the society.”
Folorunsho who was full of appreciation for the help rendered thus far, however pleaded for sustaining such goodwill to enable the Centre to continue giving to the needy. “I want to thank both the state and the federal government, the state governor, all the people that have been coming. NEMA has done well also. They gave us several food items and mattresses. The governor has really done a lot, he has been sending his wife and she has visited several times, bringing food items and clothes for the children. They followed up on their promise. We want to thank them for that.
“But food is always a challenge. No matter how much food you bring here, it gets finished because they have to eat. Right now, we need more food stuffs. They are running out of food. Then, we would like to have a bigger kitchen, storehouse and dining hall where they can eat well. Those are the major challenges we have presently. We need a lot of help here.”
International Christian Centre for Missions was established by Mr. Folorunsho in 1992 to provide education, food and shelter for the needy.
Jethro could be reached @ [email protected]