With deploring conditions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) not abating, there is added relief in Lagos and Makurdi for women and children displaced by insurgency and other insecurities following the renewal of the IDP Support programme of the Grooming Centre and Sesor Empowerment Foundation.
In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two parties on Friday, February 28, 2020, the fourth since 2016, apart from providing micro-funds for 145 displaced women’s businesses in Makurdi and Lagos, will also support Safe Day Spaces created to provide psychosocial support and livelihood services to IDPs. The women will also be trained on livelihood, financial literacy and business management.
Speaking at the MOU signing ceremony, the CEO, Grooming Centre, Dr Godwin Nwabunka, said that among the goals of the collaboration between the Grooming Centre and Sesor Empowerment Centre, “is ensuring that those who are displaced are gradually reintegrated into the society.”
He stated that there were two broad components of the collaboration, “the material aspect of it entails providing help in a couple of ways like seed money to start up their lives again.”
“What we are looking at now is to see how we can fully reintegrate the displaced into society. Part of doing this is giving them the option of them becoming full members of Grooming Centre where they can access more structured support for themselves, their businesses and families as they resume their normal lives.” Dr Nwabunka said.
“As you know, being displaced is a horrible experience. As a refugee, all of a sudden, you lose all your dignity, whether you are a nurse or a doctor or a businessman and you depend on support to eat.”
Dr Nwabunka expressed the hope that Nigerians will not be internally displaced for too long.
“We know IDPs are sometimes discriminated against but no one will be an IDP forever.”
Being that the partnership was entering its fifth year, Dr Nwabunka said it was an appropriate time to evaluate the partnership effort to be able to properly ascertain the impact of their interventions.
Responding to Dr Nwabunka’s remarks at the MOU signing ceremony, the Executive Director of Sesor Empowerment Foundation, Ms Ier Jonathan-Ichaver, revealed that following from the partnership with the Grooming Centre, one of the women being rehabilitated by Sesor had joined the Grooming Centre as a member.
She said the challenge with working with the displaced women was usually trying to stabilise them and helping them access more stable housing. In emphasising the impact of the collaboration, Ms Jonathan-Ichaver cited the example of the woman who had joined the Grooming Micro-Loan programme:
“She had some money saved up from her business but it was not enough to pay for accommodation. We joined with her church in helping her make up the funds she needed. At the same time, she had a health issue requiring surgery and we asked our individual donors to support – they did and the surgery was successful. She was discharged and then moved with her family out of the IDP settlement. After they moved, she said the last of her three children would wake up whenever it rained in the middle of the night and say, “my friends in the settlement, how are they coping? I am worried about them.” She would kneel down and say, “let’s pray that God will get them out of there the way He got us out.”
She continued: “I think that’s to say that we cannot put a price on the impact of the work we have done where a child is so developed in her compassion and empathy that she would wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about her friend because she sees the exemplary way that has been set before her, people coming in to help, and, she has learnt that compassion and empathy. Who knows what she will grow up to do with the inspiration provided by Grooming, Sesor, the church and so many others who have supported IDPs over the years?”
Other aspects of the MOU between the Grooming Centre and Sesor Empowerment Foundation include equipping the Safe Day Spaces, monitoring the living conditions of 145 displaced women and disbursement of funds to 100 new beneficiaries in Lagos and Benue states.
Since the partnership between the Grooming Centre and Sesor Empowerment Foundation was initialled in 2014, over N30 million has been dedicated to the provision of relief for over 1000 IDPs across eight states and for specific rehabilitative care for over 150 displaced female IDPs and their families in Lagos and Benue states.