Our last five days have been very eventful. It feels like we have driven across most of northern Nigeria and met half of the population.
Let us begin with our time in Bauchi. It was bound to be a good visit over the weekend when we were offered beer within seconds of our arrival at Fr. Leo’s house.
The purpose for our visit here was to observe and take part in the Youth Formation project set up by Leo and led by local young people, Sharing Education and Learning for Life. The project focuses on a variety of topics in 6 modules that engage young adults with life shaping issues and assists them to make conscious choices on how they will live their lives and shape their communities.
The module that we took part in was on peace building module, which was particularly relevant to the recent violent crisis between Christian and Muslim communities. This experience has given us the inspiration and the encouragement that work like this taking place here in Nigeria, could have a really positive impact in the communities back home in the UK.
The rest of our time in Bauchi was taken up mostly by some much needed leisure time and a chance to see more of the Nigerian countryside. We visited Yankari national park where we had the chance to take a dip in the natural hot springs and venture out on a short safari excursion. Being in the hot springs was an odd experience, relaxing but somehow uncomfortable as children, men and women of all ages seemed to gather near to us and stare even more than usual.
On safari we saw a few animals, including a distant elephant!!! Evenings spent in Bauchi were a bit of a treat as Leo’s house includes the very hidden during the day ‘Brooks Bar’, the only Irish bar in Bauchi state- let’s just say 7am starts weren’t easy.
From Bauchi we went straight to Kuru water a CAFOD supported partner project. Cletus and Shegun accompanied us on an overnight visit deep in the bush. Water supply is a huge problem for many rural Nigerian communities. The struggle to find constant and reliable water supplies all year round is all too common and an issue that has worsened over the past 10 years.
If people are lucky enough to have access to water, the sanitation of it is a troubling issue. This is where the work undertaken by Kuru Water comes in to play. During our time spent with this project we visited four different communities engaging with Kuru water to work together towards solutions for constant and clean safe water supplies. Kuru water has a variety of strategies for communities to put into place depending on their situation and geographical environment. On our visit we saw wells, water catchment tanks, water filtration units and storage tanks collecting water from the surrounding hills.
The stories we heard from the local people describing their struggles before the introduction of these simple water collection points and the impact since, clearly establish how important the work Kuru water has done and continue to do here is. The communities we met were diverse in religion and faith but yet were more unified than anywhere we have seen before.
Talking to Cletus it is clear that his work involves a lot of patience. Each community has to be ready to work together themselves and with Kuru water to be successful. This can be a very long process as Kuru water needs to be sure that each of the communities will take on the responsibility and ownership of the water points before installation.
It is so hard for us to put everything we have learnt and seen with Kuru water into this blog. The work they are they are doing is so important and inspirational. The nature of this trip has involved in us meeting so many people including kings, chiefs, and hundreds and thousands of people of the communities. Not to mention the things we saw and experienced that we hadn’t before during our time in Nigeria.