Sr. Helen Eluagu, RSC from the Community Development Centre in Ozoro, Delta State, Nigeria has written an update about three of the projects that she and her team have been involved with. They include skills acquisition training, a community needs assessment and feeding the poor.
Abject Poverty In The Midst Of Oil Wealth Igeh And Itebegieh Communities.
On the 21st March 2016 our team of two (2) Local Government Staff and our Community Development Centre Staff set off at 9.00 am for needs assessment at Itebegieh Community. Igeh and Itebegieh Communities are located on the vast island between the River Niger and Ase Creek.
We arrived at 1.30 pm on a remote narrow path. Our vehicle got stuck several times due to the lack of an access road. The terrain is very difficult to access due to the clay soil. Unknown to us it rained the previous night. The local people told us we needed an escort to guard us on our journey but we decided to continue because God was with us and was waiting for our arrival. Unknown to us the Community sent two young men to meet us but we took another turn that seemed much longer. The people were expecting us after we made frantic efforts to communicate with them but the network was down and we were unable to inform them that we were delayed.
During our needs assessment session we had 75 participants (51 women and 24 men). Since our first needs assessment that took place in 2009 nothing had changed for the people.
They came up with the following problems that they are encountering:
1. No Access road.
2. No electricity
3. No Health Centre
4. No Portable water
5. No Cassava Mill
6. No Secondary School
7. No Adult Education Centre
8. No Youth Empowerment
9. The need for a Kernel Cracker Engine.
Our team had invited the elected Councillor who represents the people to be present at the needs assessment session but he refused to honour our invitation. The water in the area contains Iron (ferrous oxide) and this has future health implications. The Igeh and Itebegieh communities have continued to suffer from untold harsh conditions due to a lack of infrastructure and social amenities. We met children with health issues, including guinea worm and pregnant women have lost their lives due to the lack of a health centre – they travel five hours to get to the next town, some during labour and they lost their babies. This is a journey I will never forget! To see the sufferings of our people in the midst of oil wealth. The people live in abject poverty.
The fuel scarcity has continued for over two months. Fuel is being sold for N170.00 per litre then on the black market, it is sold for N200.00. Whilst the fuel price has come down on the World Market Nigerians cannot enjoy these benefits and still have to purchase fuel at a very high price.
A young woman named Oreva from Itebegieh was invited to join a group of women at Ozoro to attend a skills acquisition training programme. She learnt how to make cake with local ingredients – Soya Milk, Chin-chin, Meat pile, Pufff-puff, Pop Corn etc. We were delighted with what she learnt. She presented a sample of the Soya Milk Cake to us when we arrived at Itebegieh and it was delicious. It thrilled my heart.
Skill Acquisition For Young Women In Ozoro
On the 16th of March, we organized skills acquisition training in collaboration with the Justice, Development and Peace Centre. We selected young women from two rural villages and six young mothers. Our economic slump is biting hard on people and it is becoming very hard for families to put food on the table especially single mothers. They frequent our Centre seeking financial assistance to start small trading but it is difficult for us to respond to all their financial needs so we decided to help them to help themselves through skills acquisition training.
The young women learnt how to make several dishes and they all got the chance to practice what they learnt. This added knowledge will enable the young women to increase their income. They just needed a small fund to kick start their endeavours. They learnt how to use simple tools that are very economical e.g baking a cake in a hot cooking pot instead of an oven.
Over forty families received food items for our Easter celebration for the poor. We distributed rice and soaps etc. Our elderly persons were delighted to share the joy of the Risen Lord with us. Thanks to our benefactors.
Happy Easter. The Lord has Risen Indeed. Alleluia!