May 10th Update

Greetings from Jos, Nigeria,

Even though we had a couple small rains in April, the rainy season really started two days ago, and since then we had very heavy rains each day in the afternoon and evening. People here are thankful, because the rainy season has been getting shorter in recent years because of the general climate change happening around the world, and the growth of the deserts of Africa and other continents.

The last two weeks have been full of conferences, in Jos, for EYN (Nigerian Brethren Church). First their national youth conference—more lively than the general meetings—and then their annual conference for the whole church (“Majalisa”).  Less people came for both, than in other years, because of the instability around the areas of most of the EYN churches, but it was amazing how many did come, and how much coming together seemed to give them encouragement and hope. During the Majalisa, I was able to talk with many who shared their stories of fleeing the violence of Boko Haram.  An added gift for me was getting to meet many people who knew my mother and father in the years they lived and taught here, and for them to share with me memories they had of them.

It has been good to have Donna Parcell with me for the past three weeks, and have another volunteer to share these experiences with. She will be leaving, however, tomorrow morning, and I expect to be the only volunteer here until I leave in later June. I realize that I have already completed half of my planned time here! The pictures I am sending is of mothers receiving aid and Donna and I helping with a food and household supply distribution in Jos sponsored by the Center for Caring Empowerment and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI)

Two days ago, we were able to visit a family that had taken in and assisted ‘”girls” who had been abducted from their school in Chibok, but then escaped. We weren’t able to talk in depth with the four teenage girls we met, but found them to be doing reasonably well. Others of the “Chibok girls” are already in the U.S. for further education and living with families in the Church of the Brethren. The girls we met are also preparing for this possibility.

Tomorrow starts a week of a training to train leaders to facilitate trauma healing workshops, which will increase the number of trainers and workshops being held. The head trainer is a member of the Friends Church Peace Team of African Greatlakes Initiative in Kenya. I have been invited to be a part of that training. I expect it will help me when I start volunteering once a week at a school on the edge of Jos with mostly students who have been displaced by violence, including 60 children who are orphans due to violence. I have been asked to assist teachers in doing activities in their classrooms that foster healing from trauma. I will write more about this as this unfolds.

Again, I thank all of you who have been holding me in your hearts and prayers during this time. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful springtime!

Peggy Faw Gish, 10 May, 2015Mothers receiving material aid in Jos I'm giving out buckets, and Donna is giving out blankets (2) crowd at Majalisa

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