Ever since since news of the outbreak of violence in Kafanchan reached the UK, the weekly UK-Nigeria team meetings have been a source of apprehension rather than the customary excitement. Will someone there be able to join us online? What news will there be? Has anyone else been hurt or left homeless amid the unrest?
All these thoughts occupy our minds as we prepare for the regular sessions - so we were naturally delighted that three members of the Nigeria team were able to join us last week.
It also came as a great relief to hear Comfort reassure us about events in her country,
“It's been quite stressful, but things are getting calmer,” she said. “People are still afraid - that is the feeling - but we pray that the violence ends very soon, so we can get back to normal.”
Ironically, one of the effects of the conflict is that Fantsuam has not yet been able to resume its normal service and so is unusually quiet. This in turn has meant Comfort, whose workload as General Manager of Microfinance often leaves her unable to join the meetings, has been in a position to attend online. With regard to the lack of normal activity, she told us: “Field officers have to be sure the communities we work in are safe before they can go there.”
Kafanchan Peace Market:
Following the destruction of the vital local market we were very pleased to receive an encouraging update from the Nigerian team.
Comfort explained that people have to travel to Jos and neighbouring communities to buy food and other items and that, with bank closures, money is in short supply and food prices are up. She went on to say: “Two staff of Fantsuam Foundation are on their way to Abuja this morning to meet some of our friends who are assisting in getting some items for us”.
John Dada reported that: “It’s amazing how people have been trooping out to find some way of doing some petty trading at roadsides. Before this violence, there was talk of relocating the market to a new site. When the market got burnt down, folks just went to the proposed site and started setting up stalls! I think it’s a healthy reaction for the folks to begin to help themselves before Government machinery slow kicks in.”
John added: “The average person is peace-loving and just wants to get on with their lives.”