2023: Let’s make impact again together

Dear Esteemed Supporter,

Greetings from ActionAid Nigeria.
Here’s to officially welcome you to 2023.

Thank you for supporting our mission to end poverty and fight social injustice. In 2022, your gift helped us to save over 6000 lives – including pregnant, nursing mothers, children and women-headed households – who were affected by the unexpected floods across six states in Nigeria.

With donations from people like you, ActionAid – through the Community Sponsorship programme has continued to help women and children in underserved communities for 9 years – THANK YOU!

This year, with your continued support, be assured of our deepened commitment to our relentless fight to end poverty in Nigeria.

Community Sponsorship turns 9!
Please follow all our platforms for details on how you can be involved – Stay Connected!

For sponsorship and inquiries, please feel free to contact us via our email {communitysponsorship.nigeria@actionaid.org) and via Whatsapp: +2348091114690

Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous 2023!
Thank you.

Andrew Mamedu,
Director, Resource Mobilization (ActionAid Nigeria).

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Thriving in the face of adversity

Angwan Sarki is one of the Villages in Kajuru Local Government Area, Kaduna State that was attacked consistently in April 2022. During the attacks, about 140 houses were burnt and on the 9th day, everyone fled the village.

Tabitha is a mother of 4 and a survivor of the attacks in Angwan Sarki. Her family’s major source of income, the farmland was destroyed, their animals killed and looted, and her grinding machine which serves as her source of income was also destroyed. They are sometimes sheltered by friends and at other times, they rent a room for N1,500 a month. Having to forcefully leave her home to safety caused her two Children to drop out of school.

In tears, Tabitha said, “Sincerely, you cannot compare your own house to another person’s own”. Tabitha is one of the 3,000 beneficiaries of ActionAid intervention across 61 communities, funded by STARTFUND. She intends to get back to her groundnut business, in addition to beans processing for moimoi so that she can cater to her family and afford a comfortable home of her own.

In January 2022, Rejoice Musa a mother of 5, and other residents of Angwan Dutse in Kajuru LGA were forced out of their village by bandits who had previously attacked their community on four different occasions. Some persons were held hostage, houses, farms, and livelihood equipment were burnt and others were sent out of the village.

Before the attack, 2 of her children were in school but not anymore as she cannot afford the expenses while displaced. Faced with accommodation challenges and the responsibility of taking care of her family, Rejoice undertakes menial labour on farms to earn an income and was able to save from her wages to start a business in frying Akara (Bean Cake).

ActionAid Nigeria remains committed to supporting women and girls who often bear the direct brunt when disaster strikes.

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DERAILED BUT NOT DETERRED

Mary Adams, not real name) could barely survive the poverty in her household. Mary and her 6 siblings had no fun childhood; they only bore the wrenching memories of poverty and lack of everything. Mary tells how eating one tasteless meal per day was a luxury.

At 15, she became a child labourer; doing menial jobs from house to house in her neighbourhood: “I was tired of watching my parents fight, so I will go to my neighbours and ask them what I can do for them to earn money so that I can pay for my school fees and buy my books.

I washed their plates, fetched water, and washed clothes every morning before going to school” Mary said when her early morning regular chores could not sustain her and her siblings, she took to a sales job at a bar.

“When I was working in a bar; I met a woman who told me she will help me, so she took me from Benue to Nassarawa State. She promised that I would have better opportunities and be able to help my family. I was happy”.

Her happiness was short-lived when she realised that the good life promised was a mirage; she was later sexually exploited by the same woman who promised her help.

At 16, she became ‘imprisoned’ by her host, who verbally, physically, and sexually abused her. “I became her prisoner, I was used as a sexual slave, sleeping with different men and the woman collects all the money”. Mary muttered, constantly wiping the tears which freely flowed down her sun-beat cheeks.

Mary hatched a plan to escape from her captor: “I told her I had to go and visit my sick mother and that I would return after a while. I was released to go. I never returned” After one year away, she returned to complete her National Diploma and relocated to Auchi.

“When I got to Auchi, I did many things to survive but I was lucky one day when I met a woman from Kairos (ActionAid’s Partner in Auchi, Edo State), they were doing sensitization and they told us about the dangers of irregular migration, which was what I was already planning to do but after that sensitization, I changed my mind, we were given a form to fill and apply for training.

The training really changed me and made me become confident, it improved the way I interact with people and the transport money that they gave us was useful, I saved the transport money and trekked every day, so I can use the money to obtain my National Diploma Certificate, which I couldn’t receive since graduating in 2018” she said.

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Entering The Restricted Space: First Woman In The Kaltungo Leadership Council

Kaltungo Chiefdom is one of the communities in Gombe state where the right of women and girls were not recognized. Issues such as rape, battery, denial of inheritance, male child preference, denial of educational opportunities, women exclusion in decision making at family and community levels, and harmful widowhood practices were prevalent.

ActionAid Nigeria and her partner, Kningtingale Women Health Initiative (KWHI) implemented strategic activities to bring an end to these right abuse through the SLOC-VAWG project in Kaltungo community.

At the heart of these interventions were intensive and rigorous engagements, training and sensitisation with women, men, children, religious and traditional leaders. Proudly, the Village Council has appointed the first female into the Council, the highest decision-making body in the chiefdom.

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SIGH OF RELIEF

‘‘The flood in Kainawa community started as a result of an over-flowed river close to the community and my parents, siblings and I had to evacuate to a high land for safety.

My father later returned to their flooded house with the aim of getting some clothing and other necessary items that could be needed during in our new location but sadly, the house collapsed while he was inside.

It was after some hours that we didn’t see him return that we raised an alarm. Sadly, they found him buried under the rubble, and brought him out but he died while we were on our way to the hospital.

My mother is still distraught, we have lost our farm and all our belongings. As the eldest child, I now have the responsibility to taking care of my sick mother.

With the money and other items we were provided with by ActionAid, I will be able to fund my mother’s medication, provide food for my siblings and cultivate my father’s land when the water dries up” 20-yr-old Katimi, at Kainawa community, Miga LGA, Jigawa

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The Narrow Escape

‘’I was 8 months pregnant when the community started getting flooded. We had nowhere to go so we stayed. The flood eventually got very heavy, and it brought down our house. I realized I couldn’t find my son after the house collapsed, only to hear his groans from under the rubble of a collapsed wall. I tried to save him, but my strength failed me. I eventually called for help, and he was rescued after about 2 hours.

I cried because I thought that my son was dead. He was rescued by a youth who could swim. They broke the bricks into pieces to bring out my son. My three-year-old son had gulped in a large quantity of water and community members quickly took him to the house of a community nurse for medical attention because the flood had submerged our community hospital.

When words came back to me that he was alive, I cried even more.

My husband is a Farmer but the flood has submerged his farm too. We no longer have a sustainable source of livelihood. Although, we have temporarily moved to a community that is on a highland and I hope the floods rescind quickly for us to start rebuilding our lives. My husband goes to town daily to do menial jobs so that we can eat. The cash for food from ActionAid will help us for the next three to four weeks.’’ Hasiba, Duiwigi Community, Gwiwa LGA, Jigawa State.

She is one of the 1200 women provided with emergency response kits and cash for food in Jigawa amidst the 2022 flood.

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Mobilising Actions Towards the Abolition of Infanticide (MATAI)

How the journey began

In 2019, ActionAid Nigeria began implementing the MATAI project across 57 communities in AMAC, Abaji, Kuje, Kwali, and Gwagwalada Area Councils of Nigeria’s federal capital. These communities believe that twins and other multiple-birth babies, children born after twins or those with albinism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, abnormal teeth growth (upper teeth first) birth defects, and babies whose mothers die while nursing them are considered to be evil and must be killed – this belief is gradually changing.

 

In the last 26 years, Vine Heritage Home (VHH), Kuje, situated within the house of its founders, Pst Steven and Chinwe Olusola, has been a haven for these children. ‘‘We started in our own house with a twin, then another twin and the numbers continued to grow. With the continued increase, it became imperative to expand our home, so more buildings were added to the existing one, yet it wasn’t enough as the children grew to 158.’’ Pastor Olusola Steven said.

 

Raising Funds for MATAI

With the four hundred and ninety-five thousand euros funding secured from the European Union and a co-funding of fifty-five thousand euros by ActionAid Nigeria, the race to raise more funds to support VHH began.

 

‘‘The children’s stories and the quest to help them live a life of dignity were our motivation every time we had to pitch to organisations or individuals for donation. At the onset, Community Sponsorship also donated two million naira but more needed to be done. There was a whole list of things we were grappling with, such as the purchase of a permanent site and the construction of their new home and a nursery, nutritional support, and most importantly, abolishing the practice in the communities, amongst others.’’ Thelma Thani, Resource Mobilisation Coordinator.

 

Challenges and Successes

‘’COVID-19 was one of the challenges that hit differently. All activities were halted. We couldn’t continue with the sensitisation in practicing communities, our goal of completing the construction of the permanent site on time was also halted, the initial cost of things planned sky-rocketed, the focus of donors shifted to the pandemic, and our support for the home also drifted towards safety and survival amidst the pandemic.’’ Tommy Ubong, MATAI Project Coordinator hinted.

 

Despite the setback, in January 2021, the parents of a set of triplets rescued by the VHH four years earlier came back for their children with the community representative. The parents are now committed to protecting their children and are being monitored by the National Human Rights Commission. In addition, twenty community advocates against infanticide who go around the practicing communities were trained on child’s rights and advocacy. Fifty-seven traditional birth attendants were also trained in providing better services using approved manuals from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and community health influencers, promoters, and services.

 

 

Where are we?

In May 2022, the construction of the new permanent site comprising gender-sensitive dormitories, a nursery, a hall, and a clinic was completed and handed over to Vine Heritage Home on 2022 children’s day by the Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Amb. Samuela Isopi.

 

What next?

Mobilising Action Towards the Abolishment of Infanticide continues. ActionAid is committed to working with various MDAs, corporates, and individuals to ensure that all practicing communities end the barbaric practice, equip the children’s new home, and help VHH become self-sustaining. ActionAid Nigeria is working to raise eighty-seven million naira towards all of these as part of phase 2 of the MATAI project.

 

ActionAid truly appreciates all corporate organisations and community sponsors who donated towards this project. Without you, we wouldn’t have achieved all we did.

 

If you’d like to donate towards any of our outstanding activities, please call 07007070700 for more information and donations can also be made to ActionAid Nigeria’s Community Sponsorship GTBank 0216379681

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The end of female genital mutilation in Okpuitumo community

For decades, female genital mutilation (FGM) thrived in Okpuitumo community. In 2018, with the collaboration of various ministries, agencies, and departments, after about three years sensitisation with the women, traditional leaders, religious leaders, men groups, and various groups in the community on the effects of FGM and the illegality around it, Okpuitumo community abolished.

During ActionAid’s visit to the community in March 2022, we met Christiana, a mother of 4 who shared her FGM story with us.

I grew up with the belief that female genital mutilation is a norm and is compulsory for every female child. I have seen and heard of ladies that died from the pain and bleeding from female genital mutilation so, I nursed the fear of going through the same for so long.

A few times I also nursed the idea of running away from the community when the time for my cutting approaches, but I was afraid of leaving my family and never seeing them again. On the other hand, I have also seen young ladies whose cutting caught them unawares. Their parents didn’t inform them that they would be cut. For such ladies, strong men are mobilised to hold them down while the cutter then performs her job.

In Okpuitumo community, ladies cannot be wedded in the church or traditionally if they are not circumcised, so this also makes some ladies consent to having their cutting so they could get married. It was based on this belief that I also agreed to the cutting when I was 15 years. The pain was severe, that was the saddest day of my life. On that day, 5 of us were due to be cut that day, I chose to be the last person because I was afraid. The fear I had nursed over the years were built up and a part of me thought I’d die, and the experience wasn’t far from it.

After I was cut, I wouldn’t stop bleeding several days after, the cutter told my mother some evil spirit from my father’s house was the reason I wouldn’t stop building. Some days later, I was already very weak, couldn’t walk or work and I had to be taken on an emergency to the hospital. It was there I was saved and got a new opportunity to live again.

The cutting affected my marriage, I didn’t like my husband touching me because I would experience pain, and I was afraid of childbirth. This nearly led to the end of my marriage but because it had a reduced my sexual desire. I endured all the pains I felt so that my husband wouldn’t ask for a divorce. When I started having children, I didn’t want to have a girl-child because I feared seeing my child go through the painful female genital mutilation. However, when I had my first girl-child, I knew there was no way I would allow her to experience the cutting. I was ready to protect her and shield her from FGM even if it requires me taking her out of the community and running away with her.

If ActionAid hadn’t worked with us to ban the barbaric practice, I am sure I wouldn’t have had my last child- who is also a girl.

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Breeding male champions for women’s right

When I relocated to this community, I had nothing but a dusty thick polythene bag containing my clothes. I did not know anyone in the community but was only seeking for a place of refuge.

I had left my husband and three children in Adavi community because poverty was really eating deep into the family. We barely had food to eat, and sometimes went on for days with no food except water. The family and I were becoming beggars, begging for food from neighbors who barely had much themselves. The situation became frustrating. My children – 2 boys and 1 girl were unemployed and were also struggling farmers too. My husband and I were small scale farmers- we were just cultivating on a small garden in front of the house, but this had no impact on the family as the produce is never enough for the family.

When I got to Osaragada community, No one could take the risk of accommodating a stranger, but I approached the village head who heard my story and took me into his household.

The village head, Sadiku Otaru ensured I had food to eat every day. He introduced me to the women group, and I began joining the women meetings, trainings organized by ActionAid and started making friends too. It was at the various trainings through the women peer education and safe space group. I learnt about women and child’s right, I learnt about sustainable farming and how to plant cassava properly, use of local manures on the farm than fertilizers. Eventually, I sought for approval for a piece of land from the village head and he gave me a portion of land to be farming. I deployed all my learning from ActionAid on my farm and that was how I began a new journey to farming. I used to think fertilizers was what made the soil and crops healthy but now I know better. The lessons I learnt from ActionAid’s training on agro-ecology helped my in my crop spacing and my produce were very good and healthy. I began selling some of my cassava and maize while I kept some for family consumption. Over time I include beans and Guinea corn because I got improved seedlings from ActionAid. I started saving from the profit I make too. Within this period, the village head allowed my son to move in with me so he can be helping me on the farm.

After 5 years of living with the village head, I approached him again for a land where I can build a house which he obliged. Gradually, my son and I started the construction of a 2-room house which we now live.

Otaru is a jolly good man; never struggles to display his contagious loud laughter. He motioned how he easily would have offered to marry Anase who was at the time vulnerable. But no, he recalled how ActionAid through the LRP trained him on gender equality – respecting the rights of males and females: “If not for ActionAid, I would have thought of marrying her (Anase). We were marrying vulnerable women before, but I decided to protect her when she told me her story”. Otaru insists that the LRP poked at their manly ego, but it was for the good of the community: “ActionAid made us understand the power of women in the community. At first, we (men) were very angry at ActionAid for telling us about gender equality, and they told us not to enslave our wives.” Otaru quickly noted: “As Mary Slessor stopped the killing of twins, ActionAid stopped the maltreatment of women in this community,” he affirms.

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Emboldened for Actions

Just before dawn, as early as 4 am, children, and women of Aku community make haste to the dust-feasted brook to scoop the surface of the water before the base is unsettled by cows. Water is life in every sense of it in Aku. It determined when children go to school and when mothers make the meal. It affected livelihood, caused diseases and one reported death of a woman due to snake bite on the way to the rocky-mud stream.

ActionAid provided the first humanitarian intervention by any aid organisation in the community. This means a lot to Jimoh Alabi, 48 who narrated how the ActionAid attuned the community to a world of possibilities. “We never knew that we could mobilise ourselves to make demands from the government, we thought government was very far away but through the sensitisation by ActionAid our eyes have opened” Alabi affirms confidently.

“When ActionAid came, we made a list of what we were lacking in the community (in teasing out right denial issues); we listed the bad water situation, light (electricity), livelihood support for women, health centre, school and support for our farmers. ActionAid decided to provide a borehole because it was the priority on the list, while using a service modelling approach. After sinking  the borehole, they told us that they will build our capacity so that we can be able to advocate for other needs of the community,” he said.

Alabi tickles his fingers restlessly as he excitedly nudges to mention the outcomes of the advocacy training: “We were trained on how to mobilise ourselves and write the government. After the training, we decided to practise what we learnt, we went to the Ministry of Water Resources with some of the community people, we told them that we needed water, and we kept going back to make this same demand until they sent some people to our community to assess the need. The government sunk the new motorized borehole. So, we now have one borehole from ActionAid and another one from the government” he enthused.

The community is now empowered to engage the government, began to advocate for replacement of the community’s electricity transformer. It took 4years of relentless advocacy visits to relevant government offices for the transformer to be released. “If not for the knowledge we acquired from ActionAid, we would have given up, we won’t even bother to make any attempt” said Alabi.

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