The Benue Notes: 14 Year Old Kenger Igba is Dead – Another Reason to Help Build the Nongov Community a Primary Health Centre

Gbenga Awomodu & the late Kenger Igba

On Monday 28th May 2012, at least two hundred of over three hundred students of Kings Technology Academy, Gbeji Village, Nongov Community, Buruku L.G.A. were on ground to receive exercise books (courtesy Millions4One.org) and other stationery. Most of those absent were either at home to observe the public holiday or had trekked several kilometers to a meeting point in order to meet up with the children from other neighbouring communities. The children were excited about the intervention and they would have more reasons to go to school, resume early and stayed longer in class as they could now write down lessons in class.

Kenger Igba was not in school. Sadly, the little girl who was barely fourteen had finally succumbed to her struggle with oedema. Her parents could not afford to get her proper medical attention and even though Mrs. Msuega, a retired health worker who lives in the community, had used her own funds to get some drugs for Kenger several kilometers away. Many children and adults die weekly for several reasons – deaths that could be avoided if there were properly equipped health facilities with adequate, well-trained medical personnel.

The Nongov Community
Nongov is an interior community in Buruku L.G.A, which is located at least 150km from Makurdi, the state capital. Located at least 6 kilometres from the main road and under the Mbaade Local Council Ward, the Nongov kindred comprise approximately 10,000 adults and children. The nearest primary health centre is in Tofi, nine (9) kilometres away from Nongov, whilst the nearest health post at Mbatera, which is now dilapidated, was built in 1991 and is over three kilometres away from the village. Grossly understaffed (it has not more than three experienced staff on duty), bereft of required drugs and other medication, and located across a river, the old health centre is not easily accessible by the villagers. It is also worthy of note that there is no electrification in the community, hence the need for the proposed health centre to be powered by a power-generating set, pending when the community becomes electrified.

Late Kenger Igba (R) with Mrs Msuega (A Retired Health Worker)

The Intervention & Progress So Far
After consultations with the community leaders and key opinion leaders, it was clear that the establishment of primary health centre was a cogent need. On receiving approval from the NYSC in April 2012, I set to work creating an online blog on the internet where I started writing about the Nongov community whilst giving details on the Primary Health Centre Project. I also wrote a number of articles to create awareness and advocate for support on behalf of the community. The community leadership allocated a space for the project and the land was soon cleared for construction. I obtained three standard designs from the National Primary Health Community Development Agency (NPHCDA), Abuja, one of which was adopted to design a building plan for the Primary health Centre. Progress is being made in mobilization and talks with key project partners, including the Benue State Ministry of Health, Benue State Ministry of Commerce & Industries and the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, Nigeria. At the moment, the online advocacy is beginning to yield more results as more Nigerians and organisations are showing interest in supporting the project. The foundation for the structure (18 metres x 12 metres) has been completed and work is scheduled to resume in mid-June towards the completion of the health centre building, as well equipping it.

Continue reading here: The Benue Notes: 14 Year Old Kenger Igba is Dead – Another Reason to Help Build the Nongov Community a Primary Health Centre

The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!

Here is a post I first wrote in May and thought to share on this blog, in case you missed it. Enjoy and share within your networks!

In January 2012, history was made in the remote Nongov [pronounced ‘Non-goo] community, located in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria when over two hundred members of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship (NCCF), Benue State Chapter, paid a two-day visit on what they fondly call “Rural Rugged” evangelism outreach. Beyond sharing their faith and praying with the people, they provided social services to the villagers by bathing the children, giving the men and boys clean haircut, plaiting beautiful hairstyles for the women and girls, distributing relief materials, and providing medical services, amongst others. Most of these services, as basic and necessary as they should be, are actually luxury to the people of Nongov.

It all started when in November 2011, Oyediran Igbagbosanmi Israel, the State Evangelism Secretary then, visited the village on a survey for the next rural evangelism outreach. According to the community head’s son, Dev Israel, Igbagbosanmi was the first Corps member to step onto the land. January 13-15, 2012 was the chosen as time out for the fulfillment of the core vision of the NCCF and the impact was tremendous as the villagers came out en masse to meet with the August visitors – the Christian Corps members. When it was time for the visitors to leave, the people of the community continued to implore the Corps members to pay follow-up visits to the community, and help plead their case for development wherever they could.

Mr. Oyediran Igbagbosanmi Israel, Batch A 2011/2012 Benue State Corps Member

The Nongov Community The Nongov community is a collection of several scattered hamlets and villages with a population of over 10,000 adults and children, over eighty percent of whom live in rounded huts, popularly called “Channel O”, after their rounded shape. Majority of the indigenes are farmers and there is no form of electrification, even though electric cables pass through the community to supply power to other communities. The local primary school, built in the early sixties (according to one of the community Chiefs) had been abandoned for lack of facilities and staff, and most children attended classes, clustered in a group of 150 students per open hut, under the sun and in the rain. 37-year old Martin Agen, a native and missionary, is the sole teacher of over 450 children and he has done this since 2009, hardly charging school fee. He complains that he has had to send some children home because their parents could not provide (money for) writing materials for their wards, especially a pen which costs less than thirty naira (0.3 USD). There is no secondary school in the community and the knowledge gap between the average Primary 1 student and another in Primary 6 is mostly infinitesimal.

Continue reading here: The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!

Introducing the Nongov Development Project – Let’s Change the World, One Community at a Time!

Today, I introduce a project I have been working on for a while now for which I need as much support as I can get to actualize and bring succor to the target beneficiaries. It involves the establishment of a primary health centre in the short-to-middle term, while hopefully in the long term, people of the community would have structures in place to grant them opportunities to earn enough to drive further sustainable development and elevate their socio-economic status and general wellbeing.

PROJECT TITLE: Establishment of a Primary Health Centre at Nongov community, Buruku L.G.A., Benue State

PROJECT GOALS & OBJECTIVES: In the short term, the following goals are being targeted: 1. Create awareness about healthy living and hygienic practices, and provide medical/health supplies for the people of Nongov Village, in Buruku L.G.A., Benue State 2. Mobilise community and external support to build a 10-room primary health centre in Nongov Village, Buruku L.G.A., Benue State 3. Equip the primary health centre with relevant furniture, health education aids, and laboratory items/kits 4. Train ten (10) local community health workers to support specialist/medical staff in administering basic health education and treatment, preventing and controlling locally endemic diseases, and treatment of common diseases using appropriate technology 5. Facilitate two community dialogue and value reorientation sessions with the Nongov Community people on the MDGs and sustainability of the health centre project 6. Constitute a hospital management board which would comprise some of the respected and trusted youth leaders of the community, the resident medical doctor, a local government health official, as well as a state ministry of health official who would ensure proper management and maintenance of the health centre

In view of middle to long term projections for sustainability of the project, the following objective would also be considered:

1. Establish a community trust fund which would be used to raise funds from the community, private donors, government and international agencies for sustainable development in the community 2. Facilitate an insurance scheme to enable community members, who are largely farmers, to be fully involved in committing financially to the growth and sustainability of the primary health programme/project, especially in sustaining drug supply 3. Provide an ambulance for emergency transfer of patients with major health challenges to the nearest specialist hospital for proper care/treatment/surgery

PROJECT BENEFICIARIES: The primary beneficiaries of this project are the residents of Nongov Village in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE NONGOV COMMUNITY: Nongov [pronounced ˡNun-goo] is an interior community in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, about 150km from Makurdi, the state capital. Located at least 6 kilometres from the main road and under the Mbaade Local Council Ward, the Nongov kindred comprise approximately 10,000 adults and children. The nearest primary health centre is in Tofi, nine (9) kilometres away from Nongov, whilst the nearest health post at Mbatera, which is now dilapidated, was built in 1991 and is over three kilometres away from the village. Grossly understaffed (it has not more than three experienced staff on duty), bereft of required drugs and other medication, and located across a river, the old health centre is not easily accessible to the villagers. It is also worthy of note that there is no electrification in the community, hence the need for the proposed health centre to be powered by a power generating set, pending when the community becomes electrified. The major occupation of the people is farming.

WHY CARRY OUT THIS PROJECT IN NONGOV? 1. The World Health Organisation states that the nearest health centre to a community should not be located more than three (3) kilometres away. This condition is not being met in Nongov Village. 2. Nongov Village is not easily accessible by vehicles as some parts of the uneven road are ridden with gullies and small rocks which can easily damage vehicles plying the route; these make it difficult for the movement of people, especially during the rainy season. 3. The capacity of the nearest health post is grossly inadequate in responding to the basic health needs of the people of Nongov, considering the population of over 10,000 people. 4. Women in Nongov, including the wives of the chiefs, still give birth on banana leaves, a rather unhealthy practice that endangers the lives of women and their would-be offspring. (It is culturally acceptable for the women to give birth in hospitals.) 5. Malaria, Hepatitis, acute dysentery, ringworm, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, and HIV/AIDS are some of the most common health conditions in the locality. This calls for urgent attention.

BENEFITS OF PROJECT TO THE HOST COMMUNITY: Here are some of the potential benefits of carrying out the project: 1. Marked improvement in healthy practices and easy access to affordable health care by the people of Nongov Village 2. Value-reorientation of the people towards wholesome living through advocacy, trainings and sensitization 3. Reduction of child mortality 4. Improved maternal health 5. Control of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other related diseases 6. Development of a global partnership for development 7. Employment of the local labour force in the construction projects/tasks, thereby creating short-term employment for the community people 8. Community participation and ownership of the project: the people would develop a sense of commitment and ownership in the achievement of the millennium development goals in their locality 9. Further development: it is also hoped that this project would bring more attention to the host community, and this would attract more attention from the government as well as donors and volunteers for further developmental work in the community

PROJECT PARTNERS: Talks are in progress with the following parties to support the project, even beyond completion of this first phase – i.e., the establishment.

The Nongov Community will help in o Mobilisation of the indigenes and residents for community-wide awareness outreach to mark the World Health Day, as well as dialogues with the community’s elders and youth leaders in establishing the primary health centre o Maintenance of the centre and accommodation of its staff, both from NYSC and the Ministry of Health

The Benue State Ministry of Health is being approached to support by o Equipping the primary health centre with all necessary medical equipment and drugs o Staffing the centre with a medical doctor (who would manage the centre), a trained nurse, and a pharmacist o Providing a vehicle and two of its staff (the head of births and an health educator) for sensitization programme to mark the World Health Day 2012 at Nongov Village

National Youth Service Corps, Benue State o Posting of Youth Corps members: a doctor, a pharmacist, a nurse and peer educator trainers on completion of the project, for sustainability and effective service provision in the community

Individual and corporate project sponsors o Provision of funds and other materials for building project and borehole construction o Awareness creation and support in fund raising drives for the project

SOURCES OF FUNDS FOR PROJECT These projects will be funded through donations and support by members of the community, the Benue State Ministry of Health, Makurdi, and as many people in my networks who share the ideals of this initiative

DURATION OF PROJECT: The first phase of this Project is expected to span a period of thirteen weeks, beginning from Monday, February 27th, 2012 (consultations and proposal submission) and ending in the week of Monday, May 28th, 2012.

CONTACT DETAILS: For further enquiries concerning the project, kindly call 0803 335 4965 or 0802 582 0901, or send an e-mail to gbengaawomodu@gmail.com.

DONATIONS & FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE PROJECT: Through this medium, I solicit financial support and otherwise from everyone who shares in the ideals of this project. Considering the short timeline for the first phase, financial support/donations can be paid into the account below. Please send an e-mail to gbengaawomodu@gmail.com and/or an SMS to 08033354965 or 08025820901 with the payment details for confirmation and proper records, as each donation will be acknowledged and documentation made available at the end of the project, for transparency and easy tracking.

Account Name: AWOMODU Olugbenga Akinsanya

Bank: Ecobank

Account Number: 0061802372

Kindly help share this post within your networks, on and off the social media. Thanks!

**For further details about the project, click to download a PDF copy of The Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project_ May 2012_ final_ by Gbenga Awomodu.

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Gbenga Awomodu is a Batch B (2011/2012) NYSC member serving at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Makurdi, Benue State. Also an editorial assistant with BellNaija.com, Africa’s foremost fashion, entertainment and lifestyle blog, where he interviews some of Nigeria’s best young minds, writes a bi-monthly column “On Becoming a Man” and other random posts, he has served as the transitional Music Director of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship, Benue State Chapter, and is passionate about driving positive change through advocacy and implementation of social development projects. In June 2007, he assessed sixteen partner organisations in four Northern States – Nasarawa, Bauchi, Borno and Kaduna – working on the David & Lucille Packard Foundation sponsored Expanded Access to Sexuality Education (EASE) Project in North-Eastern Nigeria. He multitasked, interviewing principal officers, staff and beneficiaries, taking snapshots, writing a story on each organisation visited, amongst other related tasks.

Off to the Middle-Belt!

Hi folks,

Thanks for the support and encouragement you have always given me. I have been posted to serve my country, Nigeria, for the next twelve months under the National Youth Service Corps programme (NYSC) in Benue State. As soon as I mentioned this on my FB Status, the first comment I got was a piece of advice to go with as much (packs of) condoms as possible. The adviser cited the high rate of HIV prevalence in that State as a reason…

Anyway, while I wouldn’t need all that, it’ll be quite interesting to take in a new environment. Several hypotheses have sprung up in my mind, but I’ll be back in three weeks’ time with my preliminary findings: whether one can link the fact that Benue State is ‘The Food Basket of the Nation’ to a high libido which then leads to rampant activities, or not. I can tell that will probably not be the case – something more complex.

I hear the people are very hospitable and that food is very cheap. :) Also, there’s Bro. Gbile Akanni’s Peace House (Living Seed) Ministries in nearby Gboko for some respite… I am in a big hurry right now, so sorry for the hasty and rather short post. I have also decided to take a break from blogging for most of this month. You bet I certainly need some time off to get refreshed. I promise you much more interesting and engaging posts when I return. There is also the possibility of a regular diary based on my NYSC experiences in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria. Meanwhile, you can dig into the archives for very useful blog posts I have made since May 2010.

Wish me journey mercies and pray for ‘your boy’ as I leave Lagos tomorrow morning to begin a new phase. Stay cool and be safe.