About 20 women and men stood around a large plastic tub, while one stirred a thick orange liquid. When it was prepared, several helped pour the home-made shampoo into bottles to sell in the market. Each person also got a sample of it to keep for their personal use. On other days, members of the training group make and bottle other products such as body lotion, air freshener, perfume, and dish soap, also for sale.
Ten of the group, eight young women and two young men, who had lost either their husband or father in the violence of Boko Haram, are participants in a six-month free training program provided by the Center for Caring, Employment and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI), located on the edge of Jos, Nigeria. Also joining in the shampoo-making party, were various staff members of CCEPI, who oversee this and other programs, including distributing material aid to displaced people.
Earlier, I visited the rooms where some of the trainees were learning to use sewing machines to sew new garments for children and adults. They showed me bags of new yardage of cloth donated to them by the government for their program. In another two rooms, other trainees were learning to use knitting machines to make hats, socks and other items that they will be able to sell. Those who want can also learn computer skills. At the end of the training program, each “graduate” will choose either a sewing machine or a knitting machine to keep, so they can start their own home business and support their families.
“The government gives us some of the some bulk food we distribute,” explained Dr. Rebecca Dali, the director of CCEPI and wife of EYN President, Dr. Samuel Dali. “The director of National Emergency Agency (NEA) gave tons of maize, rice, beans, corn, cooking oil, mattress, milk, sugar, children clothes, and soap, worth millions of Naira. CCEPI distributed this to more than 58,000 internally displaced persons including orphans and widows. Also, the director of the federal government’s Victims’ Support Fund, who is a Muslim, called and he wanted to give CCEPI money from this fund because ‘you are doing a great job.’ I have an appointment with him tomorrow. They also appreciate that we do not discriminate as to background or religion, but give out aid to anyone, displaced by violence, who are in need.”
“The rest comes from NGO’s and donated money, including the generous gifts from the Church of the Brethren in the U.S.” She added, “Even though we are sometimes without money, God always opens doors and the money we need comes.”
CCEPI hopes to expand their facilities and their programs, but for now, with very little space and resources, its workers provide a supportive and loving space where those who had lost much, find new hope as they prepare for productive, future work that will help them move on with their lives.
By Peggy Faw Gish, 27 May, 2015