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!

On Becoming a Man: The Fundraiser’s Diary – Part 1

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” – Lowell Lundstrum

Exactly a month ago today, it was my birthday and I enjoyed accolades and well wishes from friends and fans – even though I am far from being a celebrity. I appreciate all the kind words, prayers, FB messages, twitter shout-outs, and much more. God bless you all! Today’s post is an attempt to tap the left side left of my chest and whisper to self, “All izz vell!

At the beginning of March 2012, I wrote: “Over-analysis often leads to inertia, and inertia could send your lofty, achievable dreams to an early grave. Take charge today; take one more progressive step towards your destination. Expand your thinking and leave your comfort zone. Grab some courage.” That particular blog post was inspired by a personal struggle – in fact, it was primarily a note to self. But according to a popular saying: those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Theory is easy. Let’s get practical!

Remember, I mentioned a project I had been working on for a while? If you have been to some of the interiors of Nigeria, as much as you might enjoy abundance of nature’s gifts, food and the likes, the lack of certain infrastructure soon makes you miss the urban comfort. I discovered a remote community in the Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State last January, during an Evangelism outreach as a member of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship. We did as much as we could. Beyond preaching, we gave relief materials, provided medical services, and engaged in social activities like bathing the kids, cutting their hair, plaiting the women and girls’ hair, among other things. The encounter stirred up something more in our hearts and some members decided to return sometime later to attempt sustainable community development projects. Two people have built a block of three classrooms each, but much more is still needed to bring required attention to this community that lacks electricity.

Since February 2012, when I started making findings and eventually decided on how I could give in tangible ways, it has been an experience. I have been involved in raising awareness for charity in the past, even here on BellaNaija.com, but I must say I commend the efforts of those who go out of their way to speak for people who need a voice to plead their cause. Some progress is being made in my bid to make sure a primary health centre is established in the Nongov community of Buruku Local Government Area, where there is a dire need for such infrastructure. Here are some of my lessons, albeit funny.
Firstly, you may be too busy to write a beautiful, perfect prose that would move the readers enough to give. I tell you, ‘begging’ for money is one of the hardest things you could do on earth! In the process advocating, ‘begging’ for money, paying regular visits to the project site, follow-up on letters, attending meetings, and conducting further research, there is obviously not much time left for writing such prose!

Continue reading here: On Becoming a Man: The Fundraiser’s Diary – Part 1

The Nongov Primary Health Centre Project – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Today, as I head to the project site, I have taken time to respond to some often asked questions. There is still a big need for funds to make sure the deadlines on the project timeline are met. I appreciate every tweet, retweet, other forms of sharing as well as actual donations.
Here are answers to the FAQs:
  • How do you plan to get nurses and community health workers to offer services consistently?

Accommodation and monthly allowance would be provided for the nurses whilst the community health workers would be given monthly stipends and/or some other incentives

  • Where do the people seek health care presently?

Most people take herbs as they cannot afford to go to the hospital. Even those who can afford basic medication are discouraged by the distance to the nearest primary health centre at Tofi, 9km from Nongov.

  • Is it culturally acceptable for women to deliver in a hospital?

Yes, it is. Women are allowed to deliver in the hospital, but either they cannot afford it, or they do not have the means of transportation.

  • Who would be responsible for providing equipment for the centre?

The Benue State Ministry of Health would be responsible for equipping centre.

  • How motivated is the government to ensure drug supply?
  • Is there electricity for simple things like vaccines?

The community is currently not electrified, but provision is being made in the budget for a power generator for regular power supply.

  • Is the 10,000 population true – is this the whole community or each of the smaller hamlets which make up the community?

It is the whole community, comprising several smaller hamlets/villages.

  • How would the potential community health workers be selected?

Announcements will be made at community and religious meetings across the various hamlets/villages calling for people with varied experiences as midwives, health technologists and health educators to apply/indicate interest to be screen for a shortlist of ten (10) most qualified candidates.

  • What will be the roles of the community health workers?

They would support the doctors and nurses in community health education and house-to-house visits and sensitization/enlightenment.

  • How would really sick people be referred and transported to a bigger facility that can handle such cases?

After the clinic has been established, a case would be made for the donation of a vehicle to the clinic.

  • Who would manage the primary health centre?

The resident medical doctor would manage the health centre, with the supervision of a hospital management board, of which he would be a key member.

  • What measures would be/are being taken to ensure that the project actually meets health needs?

A hospital management board is being constituted to ensure lasting relationship with the government, development agencies and all relevant agencies.

  • Where, how and for how long would the community health workers be trained?

The community health workers would be trained with the health centre’s equipment and subsequent advanced trainings may hold outside the community in partnership with the state ministry of health and other relevant bodies.

  • What are the long-term plans for basic, essential drugs? Will it cover immunization needs?

An affordable health insurance scheme is being considered in partnership with the government and a major pharmaceutical company which would ensure regular/constant drug supply.

  • Can training be conducted like halfway into the project as well as retraining such that all is ready and set to go at the commissioning of the facility?

Yes, it can. However, the current plan is to conduct the training after equipping the centre.

  • What other bodies can be collaborated with apart from the local government authorities, e.g. NACA; are there NGOs in the area who could be of help?

Yes. Further options are being explored in order to give the community people the best partnership and as much opportunities as possible. CONTACT DETAILS: For further enquiries concerning the project, kindly call 0803 335 4965 or0802 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. Financial support/donations can be paid into the account below. 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.