Moved by stories of persistent attacks and killings by herdsmen, 18-year-old Briton builds health centre in Kaduna community
From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
It was a moment of great excitement. Sheer joy pervaded the streets and there was celebration all over the community.
The event was the unveiling of a primary health care centre built for the people of Asso community in Southern Kaduna by an 18-year-old Briton, Seth Thomas. The project was inaugurated on January 11, 2019.
Seth and his father, Thomas, had visited Asso village in Jama’a Local Government Area of Kaduna State in 2017. It was at a period when the community and a number of others were under persistent attacks, and many people died in the hands of vicious Fulani herdsmen.
During the visit, the Britons met one Mr. Jude, a young man in the community whose leg was deteriorating as a result of a bullet wound from the attack.
That was what inspired Thomas to build a health facility for the community. The facility, it was gathered, cost the young man £50,000 (about N23.4 million.)
Asso village is in Kagoma kingdom. And the Kpop Gwong of Kagoma, the paramount ruler of the kingdom, Col. Paul Zakka Wyom (rtd), at a colourful ceremony during the commissioning of the health facility, decided to confer the traditional title of ‘Byeh Gwong’ (Helper of Kagoma) on the facilitator, Seth, for building a health centre in the village.
Speaking at the event, which was attended by Seth’s father, Mr. Mervyn Thomas, the chief executive officer of the United Kingdom-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW-UK), the traditional ruler said his people would remain eternally grateful to Thomas for helping them.
Recalling how the project came about, the traditional ruler said, in 2017, he attended a meeting of the CSW in Abuja, where he told the story of the persistent attacks in Southern Kaduna communities and how the attackers invaded Asso village and killed 12 people in April of that year.
He said after the meeting, Seth and his father were moved by the story and decided to visit Asso village to see things for themselves.
“It never crossed my mind that a miracle was on the way. Our people will remain eternally grateful to Seth for his kind heart,” the traditional ruler said.
He said the clinic would benefit Asso and many other communities in the area. The Kpop Gwong urged wealthy Nigerians to come to the aid of rural communities by taking a cue from Seth and provide basic facilities that could improve the living condition of the people.
Wyom charged the community to take good care of the facility, which was inaugurated by the president of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Stephen Panya Baba.
The facility was also handed over to ECWA to manage.
In his remarks on the occasion, Seth said he was inspired to initiate the project by the terrible condition of a young boy, Jude Ayuba, who he met during his visit to Asso village.
He said he was concerned that Ayuba’s leg was badly infected through a bullet wound because he could not afford proper medical attention.
“As I left you that day and drove out of the village, I couldn’t get out of my mind the image of poor Jude with his badly infected leg, due to the bullet lodged in it.
“I asked our host, Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, why Jude couldn’t have proper medical attention, and he told me that it was because the nearest hospital was many miles away. At that very moment I determined in my heart that, with God’s help, I would raise the money to build you your own hospital here in Asso,” he said.
Narrating how he raised £50,000 for the project, he said: “When I got back to my school, the first thing I did was to persuade my friends to raise funds for the Asso clinic, and over the next six months, my school friends raised £15,000.
“My headmaster let me speak at a special service celebrating my school’s 150th anniversary, and the offering that day was over £2,500.
“But I was still a very long way from the target of £50,000 which I needed to build this hospital. Some people even told me that it was impossible, and that I should give up the idea. But I couldn’t get the image of you, my brothers and sisters, out of my mind.
“Then God gave me the verse from Luke 18:27, ‘What is impossible for people is possible with God.’ From that moment, I had no doubt at all that God would provide.
“I wrote to many people telling them about your situation, and got many gifts, some large and some small. Then one day, the breakthrough came when I emailed one of my father’s friends, who was the head of an organisation in Canada called Voice of the Martyrs.
“Within 30 minutes of sending that message, I had a reply, and it said ‘whatever you raise, we will match up to a total of £25,000’! Hallelujah, praise the Lord!”
The clinic has a maternity room, two admission rooms, theatre, pharmacy, laboratory, consulting room and two toilets.
A two-bedroom apartment and a mini guest house were also constructed for health workers who would operate the facility.