One Sunday afternoon, at the end of 2014, Japheth and I were expecting a friend, Mr Martins, to join us for Sunday lunch. He was quite late and we wondered what had happened, since church had already finished.
When Mr Martins got to our house, he became quite emotional. Over a number of weeks, he had been observing a lady in church, who came so faithfully, yet she appeared to have so little. He couldn’t help but notice that she wore the same clothes every Sunday. He wanted to find out more about her and offered her a lift home. Her home was not too far from our church and our house, yet none of us knew that her community existed. He had never seen anything like it. He was met with hundreds of homes made from cement bags and planks of wood. He took Japheth to see it and to meet Mama Tina.
Mr Martins was travelling for a few weeks and asked us to look out for her. In the space of few days, we received a phone call to tell us that Mama Tina was very sick with TB, and in hospital. Martha, her friend stayed by her side night and day. We helped as much as we could. Mama Tina got a little better and was discharged. Sadly, after a few days of being discharged, we lost her.
It was no coincidence that Mr Martins took Mama Tina home that day. God has given us a heart for this community and we are thankful to have the opportunity to serve in this area.
Ruga is not an easy place to minister to. When we took a children’s program last August, the children had just arrived by bus at the venue when I received a panicked phone call from Martha. She said that the parents were angry and they were asking us to return their children immediately. We couldn’t understand what was wrong – the parents knew where we were. We carried on and returned the children at the scheduled time. It turned out that quite a few of the children escaped their Islamic class to join us, however, rumours had spread that we had kidnapped the children!
When the children were taken back, at first the parents threatened to burn the bus. When everyone had calmed down and it was explained to them what exactly our purposes were, they started to ask questions – Why our children? Why are you helping us? Why would you choose to come to a slum like this? They just couldn’t believe that we wanted to do something for their community, for free.
In typical Hausa Muslim culture, the women are not allowed to leave their homes without their husbands permission. We are trying to start a women’s ministry, but reaching these women is not easy. The day I went to Ruga to carry out a needs assessment, it was only the Christian women that were able to meet with me.
We are learning a lot as we try to reach out to Ruga. We have learnt what not to do and what things work. After our last experience at the beginning of January, we have learnt to never do an outreach for the whole community that involves giving out food. It’s dangerous! The men became violent in order to make sure they got something. Poverty makes people do desperate things when they haven’t eaten a proper meal for days.
Poverty makes people do desperate things when they haven’t eaten a proper meal for days.
There is only so much we can do in Ruga, considering the size of the community, but by reaching a few, we pray the impact of the little we have done will spread and Gods love will be evident.
Lynsey has started skills classes with some women in Ruga to try and help to provide them with a skill that they can then use to support their families. She is looking for some assistance to provide materials. Find out more here.