Lou’s first reflections on her return from Nigeria with the ‘Step into the Gap’ Programme:
A friend who had visited Nepal once told me that nothing he saw in the streets of Wakefield reminded him of his visit. Nepal was literally another world and now I know exactly what he meant.
It is very hard to see anything of Nigeria here at home, it is another world. Going to Nigeria was the experience of my lifetime. I can honestly say I learnt more about myself and the world in that short period than at any other time in my life. But in many ways, although only one month has passed since we returned, it feels a lifetime ago.
From being in the schools in Lagos, to seeing the CAFOD projects in the north, we met some amazing people. We got the chance to talk to children, teachers, sisters, medical staff, kings, priests, about everything from water to Christmas, tax to teddy bears. Every day was a challenge, even if it was just catching the unreliable taxi across the city, but challenges that we enjoyed.
Our first few weeks were spent in the south in the humid heat of Lagos in the Ajegunle slum, where we visited primary and secondary schools and a women’s centre. We taught the children about Blackpool and played endless games of ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’.
In Jos, in the cooler north, we spent more time with the CAFOD projects. Seeing the massive impact one water catchment has on a community is breathtaking. We saw whole communities pulling together regardless of race, tribe, and religion to build better futures for themselves because now they have hope, they have water.
In Kwa, a district we visited in the north, the river bed runs dry only a month after the rainy season has finished. The women’s daily battle is to find enough clean water to sustain their families and every year this battle gets harder as the effects of climate change take hold of the region.
CAFOD’s partners work hard here with the community, easing the struggle for clean water little by little, building together water filters and water catchment tanks.
So many experiences I had in Nigeria will stay with me forever. I look forward to sharing them with you over the months ahead and all that remains is to say thank you to everyone who made our visit to Nigeria what it was.
Lou and Chris will be speaking around the diocese about their visit – look out for details locally. Alternatively, if you’d like to invite them to give a presentation at your parish, contact us at the CAFOD Lancaster office.