Students go the extra mile| DRAWING BOARD: LIFE IS ONLY FORWARD| By C C Benjamin

Somewhere off the Benin-Lagos expressway, in the heart of a small community in Ogida Qtrs, a vastly populated and equally impoverished camp accommodates over a thousand men, women and children; all of them homeless, destitute, miles and miles away from where they once called home.

The Internally Displaced Persons’ Camp in Edo State was established and is managed by the International Christian Centre for Missions headed by Mr. Solomon A. Folorunsho with donations from kindhearted individuals and Non Governmental Organisations within and around the state.

On the 11th of March, the Pathrestorer Organisation embarked on an outreach to this camp to contribute their quota to and help relieve the narratives that emanate from the lips of victims of sectional crisis, terrorism, religious and cultural belligerence, etcetera. Armed with the blessings from the early afternoon rain and a few sacks of foodstuff and clothes, we headed for the IDP Camp.

The organisation was set up by Daniel Etetafia, an alumni of the University of Benin as a medium to reach out to people who have lost hope in this life and try to restore their hope and faith in humanity and in God through the word of God. And encompasses many students of same school although, people from different works of life are welcomed.

Talking to a student member, Blue Parrot discovered that last year, a session was held for street kids where each member got to talk with many of them and help them in whatever ways possible.

‘This year, we are doing both charitable donations and so forth. Helping people realize that there are those who care and at the same time doing what Christ left us here to do. Preach the gospel.’ Says a student member.

The stories that surround the lives in the IDP Camp are multifaceted as well as multifarious. Children separated from their parents, mother who have lost their sons and daughters, wives who cannot find their husbands and so forth, all find a new home and family here, dependent on about thirteen bags of rice for each meal.

While we moved around the camp, children inhaled the petrichor and bathed in the wet sand, teenagers formed single lines and were being drilled in marching by their guardians, babies watched the world from their point of view with their feeble lips around their mother’s nipple and women busied themselves with making fires for their cooking, stirring soup pots and so forth. Not one mention or sight of what they have put behind them.

These supposed victims have risen from the ash of their burnt past, like a flock of Phoenixes and are now strutting new plumes. And as we played with the children and gave them hope, we were encouraged, ourselves, to persevere. Life is only forward.

PS: All images captured on my Tecno W3

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