Missionaries Amidst Insecurity

Missionaries Amidst Insecurity

MMM Sisters, Fuka, Nigeria

Everything in life has a season and we are called to embrace all with love, wisdom and integrity. Niger State, since the beginning of the year 2021, has suffered grievous attacks from bandits. However, God’s mercy and goodness has remained unsearchable.

Medical Missionaries of Mary Fuka community is in the Munya Local Government area in Niger state. The rainy season is here and despite the insecurity challenges, the farmers have been, and still are, working tirelessly in harvesting their crops.

Since the onset of this insecurity challenge in Fuka, our community and Primary Health Care has been on and off. April 2021 was our first experience of a banditry attack in Fuka and the environs. The community was thrown into turmoil and as a result, we closed for three months. Almost a year later, there came another attack which took place on 11th March, 2022. Thank God we had already come out of Fuka to the place where we had arranged accommodation for such occurrences.During this incident, the community was deserted; with families displaced and some people kidnapped. Some flew to neighbouring villages and others found refuge for days in nearby bush. Besides this, properties were destroyed and food crops and animals, especially cows, were taken away. People were killed and other lives were lost to hunger. Health conditions deteriorated and there was poor access to health care. Fear was very palpable, movement was restrained, so people were on the alert. There was no freedom of worship, and fear engulfed the area to the extent that the Easter Vigil was not celebrated.

Amidst all these challenges, God has been so faithful in enriching us with new insight, more courage and the zeal to continue his healing mission. To be a victim of a banditry attack is an experience that one should never wish for. It leaves one with sad and fearful memories but somehow one grows more in showing compassion and being in solidarity with others. It was a genuine moment where our faith and trust in God was challenged and we felt the protecting hand of God. This was our experience! Nevertheless, as a community we draw our strength from prayers and support from one another. We live each day as it comes, sharing our stories, strengths, and fears and engaging in community activities, not forgetting to celebrate. The renewal of vows of Sr. Linda happened at the heat of this time (April 2022) and we did not hesitate to celebrate!

In all these, we kept in touch with our Leaders and updated them of the happenings. They were very supportive and indeed the whole Congregation was in solidarity with us, praying and checking on us. Engaging with the Leaders, we expressed our desire to remain with the people rather than closing down completely. From the experience of the first attack, many patients suffered lack of health care services. In view of this, on 4th April (our MMM Foundation day), we initiated a mobile outreach in consultation with the Area Leadership Team. This was to reach out to our patients on special treatment such as those with sickle cell anaemia (SS), diabetes and tuberculosis (TB). Some of our staff expressed their willingness to participate in this venture. Presently, our outreach, which is in Kaffin Koro, has expanded with the inclusion of general health care with laboratory services, immunisation of children and a school health programme. The programme runs through Monday to Thursday. It has not been easy making such a journey daily on a rough road. Nevertheless, the fulfilment gained in reaching out to them is enough grace to cope with the stress. The nature of the work is demanding, yet the prayer and support of those around us gives us courage.

We are also grateful to our Bishop, His Lordship Dr. Martin Uzoukwu and his Auxiliary Luka Sylvester Gopep who have been very supportive. Some religious communities around us also have been good to us, paying us visits, not forgetting our parishioners who can’t wait for us to go back to Fuka. In fact, our parish, Fuka, already sent delegates urging us to return, assuring us of an improved security situation at the moment. Some of our sisters have been so brave to pay us visits; these were always reviving and encouraging moments for us. The patients have been so appreciative and pouring God’s blessings on us for making the effort to reach out amidst the challenges.

They remain hopeful that we will soon resume in Fuka. We are blessed at this time to have a new diagnostic machine installed in our clinic, to aid in the diagnosis of tuberculosis. The training began in September 2022. Some of the staff that were available and some of the villagers participated and witnessed the installation. Indeed, it was a huge success! To them, it was a great sign that MMM PHC Fuka does not just belong to the Medical Missionaries of Mary, but they have a great share in it as beneficiaries. It also increased their hope that activities will resume soon.