Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Notwithstanding the recent donation of an array of food and other items by the COVID-19 Victim Support Fund (VSF), it is not yet uhuru for internally displayed persons (IDPs) in the Uhogua Camp, Ovia North East Local Government Area, Edo State, going by the large quantity of food consumed daily at the camp.
One of the camp coordinators, Pastor Evelyn Omigie, said residents consume 15 50kg bags of rice in one meal: “What that means is that the federal and state governments as well as individuals and organisations must constantly provide food items to sustain the joy on the faces of these innocent children who became IDPs by circumstances beyond them, else they may starve.
“We appreciate VSF for what they brought for us. God will bless them so much but the thing is that, because of the population, here, we cook 15 50kg bags of rice per meal, 12 50kg bags of garri per meal, five bags of beans per meal, one 100kg bag of melon per meal. That is why we will always ask for more because the people are many.
“Whatever you bring for us, before you know it, it is finished. Because of this, we call on VSF to always remember us. This should not be the last. They should continue to bring from time to time.”
Chairperson, COVID-19 VSF, Mrs. Akerele Toyosi, said they came to the IDP camp identify with them. She assured them of the body’s constant support.
Camp coordinator, Pastor Williams Folorunso, said despite the fact that they were hit by the lockdown occasioned by the novel coronavirus pandemic, his hope was in God and he would not be shaken by the happenings around him: “We are children of God, we are people of faith, otherwise, if we look by sight, there seems to be a standstill everywhere in the country. The thing is really giving us a lot of challenges so much so that to be able to even feed once in a day is a miracle.
“Some times, we sleep without food. You can see how tough it is. I just pray it doesn’t get worse. That is the only thought that always comes to my mind.
“I pray something miraculous happens, a great intervention from government, individuals, from corporate organisations, and that even as people read or hear this that they should do something big that will sustain them for a very long time.
“I just hope and pray that it doesn’t go beyond this. I am not weighed down by what I see because of the love I have for this work. I don’t allow what I see weigh me down. I hope in God and I believe that there are good persons in this country. There are good persons around the world who will hear this or see this and do something.”
To supplement the donations it gets, the camp cultivates farms, using the few children who are 18 years and older: “I want to tell you that the majority of the persons here are children. They are very, very young. You cannot allow those ones to handle cutlasses otherwise I would be accused of child abuse. But the ones above 18 years, we have farms that we are doing to support this place.
“Though you may see trees all around, these trees are there to clean up the air, bring in good vegetation and good relaxation. But behind, we have our farms, though these farms are not enough to take care of the people. The farms only do about three or 5 per cent of the feeding here.
“The other community here, we got a place where we intend to make farms this year but there was crisis in the community. Different groups were coming to disturb us. We could not implement that aspect but that is getting settled now.
“The people who are able to farm in this place are not many yet. We hope that every one of us will join hands together to help these children. We have more than 30 university graduates in this place. We also have people studying courses like Medicine. Before, we had those who read Accounting, Law, Nursing and other courses. Now, we have people reading Medicine. We are very happy and we hope in the next few years, we will not be asking people to come and support us rather they will be the ones supporting us.
“It gives me joy to continue. The Federal Government, the state government, their coming at this time, is giving me a lot of encouragement. I am so happy. I want to use this opportunity to thank the Federal Government, the VSF, the state government and all the people who talked about us for people to know that we needed help. We say we are indeed very grateful to all.”
Unity Samson, from Borno State, said they were very happy to have received the items but they would be glad if the foodstuffs keep coming: “Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we ate twice in a day but now, it is just once.
“I am so excited over what the government has done for us today. They remembered us today by supplying our needs. However, we still need more from them so that we can eat enough food.
“We need VSF to still help us and to tell the people of the world that we still need more food. Food is not enough for us. We need fuel to power our generating set. Every day, we spend a lot of money in buying fuel to pump water.”