City Ministries offers children, who are living rough on the streets, a new start in life by meeting their basic needs of food, shelter, an education and also nurturing them spiritually – giving them the opportunity to know Jesus.
Gidan Bege (House of Hope)
The first point of contact for many orphans and vulnerable children is the city centre halfway house known as Gidan Bege, which means House of Hope in the Hausa language. Here, children as young as five are able to escape from a harsh life of begging on the streets and an endless struggle to survive. Some have even been rescued from villages where they were beaten and abused, after having been wrongly accused of involvement in witchcraft. Malnourishment, parasites and malaria are common illnesses, and many of the children are suspicious and fearful.
The kids are provided with food, shelter, an education, and, most importantly, are shown the love of Christ. They are assessed over a period of time, introduced to discipline, shown love (perhaps for the first time) and encounter God’s love through hearing Bible stories and praying. The physical, spiritual and emotional transformation of the children is often thrilling to see.
Gidan Bege also has a medical clinic which is used to reach out to both the Christian and Muslim community; there is also a separate burns clinic.
Transition House and Gyero
Children usually remain at Gidan Bege between 6 months to a year. After this time they are moved to one of the long term residential centres, either Transition House in Jos or Gyero on the outskirts of the city.
Gyero is set within a village community with separate compounds for boys and girls. A member of staff is assigned to a specific group of children, called family groups. Through these groups each child receives food, shelter, discipleship, love and attention.
A newly built primary school called Cornerstone Academy provides the children with the opportunity to attain state education standards. They are surrounded by strong Christian influences and have the support of family groups in order to give them as many opportunities as possible.
The children are encouraged to take up a trade and are given vocational training in construction, joinery, mechanics, computing, tailoring or an equivalent vocation. This means that when the time comes for them to leave City Ministries they are able to support themselves.
A network of Christians in businesses throughout the city of Jos is willing to take apprentices for training. This helps prepare the children for adult life whilst also reinforcing the Christian values that they have been taught at City Ministries. The kids are shown how to live the Christian life in the everyday world.
“I had the privilege of spending twelve months in Nigeria working mostly with street kids; sometimes teaching, sometimes building, and a lot of the time playing football with them. I went out with ideas of what it would be like and what to do, but I had to change my plans as God showed me where He wanted to use me. Watching God work outside of my life, in a different culture and on a different continent was one of the greatest blessings He has given me.”
Mission Africa Short Term volunteer
In Nigeria, many towns and cities have an high number of street kids. The reason for this appears to be deeply entrenched poverty which defines the lives of the vast majority of Nigerians. In addition, broken homes caused by various forms of social disruption as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, deepens this crisis even further. Many children are forced into a life of begging, petty crime or even prostitution. The children are deprived of a real childhood, they are robbed of love and cannot see a way out of the problems they face.