The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!

Posted on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 at 2:00 PM

By Gbenga Awomodu

In January 2012, history was made in the remote Nongov [pronounced 'Non-goo] community, located in Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, Nigeria when over two hundred members of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship (NCCF), Benue State Chapter, paid a two-day visit on what they fondly call “Rural Rugged” evangelism outreach. Beyond sharing their faith and praying with the people, they provided social services to the villagers by bathing the children, giving the men and boys clean haircut, plaiting beautiful hairstyles for the women and girls, distributing relief materials, and providing medical services, amongst others. Most of these services, as basic and necessary as they should be, are actually luxury to the people of Nongov.

It all started when in November 2011, Oyediran Igbagbosanmi Israel, the State Evangelism Secretary then, visited the village on a survey for the next rural evangelism outreach. According to the community head’s son, Dev Israel, Igbagbosanmi was the first Corps member to step onto the land. January 13-15, 2012 was the chosen as time out for the fulfillment of the core vision of the NCCF and the impact was tremendous as the villagers came out en masse to meet with the August visitors – the Christian Corps members. When it was time for the visitors to leave, the people of the community continued to implore the Corps members to pay follow-up visits to the community, and help plead their case for development wherever they could.

Mr. Oyediran Igbagbosanmi Israel, Batch A 2011/2012 Benue State Corps Member

The Nongov Community
The Nongov community is a collection of several scattered hamlets and villages with a population of over 10,000 adults and children, over eighty percent of whom live in rounded huts, popularly called “Channel O”, after their rounded shape. Majority of the indigenes are farmers and there is no form of electrification, even though electric cables pass through the community to supply power to other communities. The local primary school, built in the early sixties (according to one of the community Chiefs) had been abandoned for lack of facilities and staff, and most children attended classes, clustered in a group of 150 students per open hut, under the sun and in the rain. 37-year old Martin Agen, a native and missionary, is the sole teacher of over 450 children and he has done this since 2009, hardly charging school fee. He complains that he has had to send some children home because their parents could not provide (money for) writing materials for their wards, especially a pen which costs less than thirty naira (0.3 USD). There is no secondary school in the community and the knowledge gap between the average Primary 1 student and another in Primary 6 is mostly infinitesimal.

Igbagbosanmi would later return to erect a block of three classrooms with locally available materials and labour. Armed with a passion for positive change and impact, and a training in the Family Life and Community Reorientation (FACOR) programme under the umbrella of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Community Development Service group, he erected a block of three classrooms, including a toilet facility and a motorized well in order to steer the community towards achieving universal education, amongst other MDGs. Since then, a few Corps members have found their way back to the hitherto ‘forgotten’ land to make some contribution by volunteering to teach for a few weeks. Another block of three classrooms is being completed by Ms. Evelyn another Corps member.



L: Dev Poor, the commnunity head, receiving the corpers; R: Dev Poor, during the NCCF outreach in January

The Case for a Primary Health Centre
Health care is a dire need in Nongov. When most people fall sick, they use herbs because they cannot afford to go to the clinic or the hospital. The nearest primary health centre is in Tofi, nine (9) kilometres away from Nongov, whilst the nearest health post at Mbatera, which is now dilapidated, was built in 1991 and is over three kilometres away from the village. Grossly understaffed (it has not more than three experienced staff on duty), bereft of required drugs and other medication, and located across a river, the old health post is not easily accessible to the villagers. Though it is culturally acceptable for the women to deliver in the hospital, “We do suffer. Even our women, they still producing the young ones for banana leaves. We have so many sickness; like fever, typhoid, hepatitis and so on,” says Chief Moses Awua, the Zaki, who is next in line to Dev Poor, the community head. Often times, it is either they cannot afford it, or they do not have the means of transportation to the nearest hospital/health centre. According to Mr. Chizoba Okeke, a Medical Laboratory Scientist, a former member of the NCCF who was on the medical team in January says, “Owing to the absence of a health facility and trained medical personnel coupled with a high level of poverty, poor standard of living and absence of basic amenities, the community is bedeviled with a lot of health challenges, including malaria fever, which can be attributed to non-availability of Insecticide Treated mosquito Nets (ITNs), ditches with capacity to hold stagnant water that form breeding grounds for mosquitoes and thatch houses with inadequate windows and doors.” Other common health concerns include Urinary Tract Infections, Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases (PID), Hepatitis-B virus infection, typhoid fever, dermatophytosis (ringworm) – especially affecting the scalp (Tinea capitis), and parasitic worm infestation. He adds, “Cases of stomach ulcer, as well as diabetes mellitus, were also observed in the elderly people.”

This little girl has a kidney ailment, but her parents cannot afford to get her proper care!


A Stitch in Time: Here’s How You Can Help!
From the foregoing, it is no gainsaying that there is an urgent need for a sustainable healthcare programme for the 10,000 plus people of the Nongov Community, Buruku Local Government Area, Benue State. I decided to advocate for this and met with the community head in February 2012, and he was delighted to hear about the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project. Since then a lot of research and consultations have been carried out. In the short term, the Nongov Primary Health Centre Project involves: awareness creation about healthy living and hygienic practices, and provision of medical/health supplies; mobilization of community and external support to build and equip a 10-room primary health centre in Gbeji Village, Nongov Community; training of ten (10) local community health workers who would implement community health education and enlightenment, pay house-to-house visits, and support specialist/medical staff in administering basic health education and treatment, preventing and controlling locally endemic diseases, and treatment of common diseases using appropriate technology; facilitating two community dialogue and value reorientation sessions with the Nongov Community people on the MDGs and sustainability of the health centre project; and constitution of a hospital management board which would comprise some of respected and trusted (youth) leaders of the community, the resident medical doctor, a local government health official, as well as a state ministry of health official who would ensure proper management and maintenance of the health centre.

In the middle to long-term the following objectives would be pursued: establishment of a community trust fund which would be used to obtain funds from individual/private donors, government and international agencies for sustainable development in the community; facilitation of a health insurance scheme to enable community members, who are largely farmers, to be fully involved in committing financially to the growth and sustainability of the primary health programme/project; and provision of an ambulance for emergency transfer of patients with major health challenges to the nearest specialist hospital for proper care/treatment/surgery.


Mr. Tema Ucha, an elderly villager, has given plots of land towards community development

You can contribute to the success of this project by donating cement blocks. 3,200 pieces of 6-inch blocks and 1,800 pieces of 9-inch blocks are required to complete the building. When you donate a thousand naira, you give eleven 6-inch blocks or eight 9-inch blocks towards guaranteeing accessible and affordable healthcare for the people of Nongov.

For further details about the project, click to download a PDF copy of The Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project_ May 2012_ final_ by Gbenga Awomodu.

Below are the account details:
Account Name: AWOMODU Olugbenga Akinsanya
Bank: Ecobank
Account Number: 0061802372

N.B: This is a project-specific account. Every donation will be acknowledged and duly accounted for. Kindly help share this post within your networks, both online and offline. For further enquiries concerning the project, kindly call 0803 335 4965 or 0802 582 0901, or send an e-mail to gbengaawomodu@gmail.com. From Saturday 12th May 2012, there will be weekly updates on the progress of the project on http://thenongovproject.wordpress.com and responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the project. Kindly ask any questions below and I will attempt to answer them all. Thanks!

Gbenga Awomodu at the site of the Primary Health Centre project

Photo credit: NCCF Benue, Gbenga Awomodu, Oyediran Igbagbosanmi
________________________________________________________________________________________

Gbenga Awomodu is a Batch B (2011/2012) NYSC member serving at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Makurdi, Benue State. Also an editorial assistant with BellNaija.com, Africa’s foremost fashion, entertainment and lifestyle blog, where he interviews some of Nigeria’s best young minds, writes a bi-monthly column “On Becoming a Man” and other insightful posts. He has served as the transitional Music Director of the Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship, Benue State Chapter, and is passionate about driving positive change through advocacy and implementation of social development projects. Follow him on Twitter: @gbengaawomodu | Gbenga’s Notebook: www.gbengaawomodu.com | Facebook Page: Gbenga Awomodu

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  • 35 Comments on “The Benue Notes: Introducing the Nongov Community Primary Health Centre Project – You Can Change the World, One Community at a Time!”

    Comments
    • Naz May 9, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      God bless their efforts #HumansWithHearts *Impressed Much*

    • passing through May 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM

      now that’s NYSC

      • diamond May 10, 2012 at 2:56 PM

        yeah! NYSC. God bless them all.

    • Ndidi May 9, 2012 at 2:37 PM

      This is so wonderful! I will donate.

    • Janded May 9, 2012 at 3:30 PM

      Great job *goose bumps*

    • ti May 9, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      NCCF God bless you

    • VA May 9, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      Keep up the good work!

    • Jen Poet May 9, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      God bless you all.

    • Myne Whitman May 9, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      This is a great project!

    • Debby May 9, 2012 at 4:37 PM

      God bless the corpers!

    • STELLA ODEDEYI May 9, 2012 at 4:44 PM

      Wow!!!! Maybe I missed out on previous articles relating to welfare in Nigeria but Gbenga I am so truly proud of you!!!!!!! So truly proud of Bella Naija to actually use this medium for life changing news. This is the first time I have seen an article that dwells on what we truly NEED in Nigeria. Please keep it up. When we hail activities like this, people will do more because they know their efforts are not in vain. Lets toast to the fulfillment of ALL the millennium development goals (MDGs) in Nigeria!

    • JAnomaly May 9, 2012 at 6:45 PM

      I had goosebumps reading this article. God bless you Gbenga and the other corpers. So much needs to be done but we can do it step at a time. I will definitely donate.

    • BettyB May 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM

      Wonderful initiative, you have inspired me.

    • Rabina May 9, 2012 at 7:23 PM

      This is highly commendable and shows that inspite of the challenges we are facing in Nigeria, there are still a lot of good young people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to help others- I particularly appreciate the fact that Gbenga, a Yoruba has reached out to a Tiv community and has done his best to help them- if only we could have more Nigerians like Gbenga, then all our problems will be solved at one stroke!!! My only worry though (please bear in my I am not accusing him of any fraud- but it would be better for the bank account to be under the name of the charity work he is doing rather his own personal account or else overseas donors will run away from him)

      • Gbenga Awomodu May 10, 2012 at 12:32 PM

        Thanks Rabina. I am yet to find a local NGO/Charity (especially in the host community) I could partner with to achieve this. The NYSC does not give letters to the effect of opening accounts in the name of the project, but the officials encouraged me to open one in my name, the account statement of which I would then submit at the end of the project. I do not plan to set up an NGO (anytime soon), whereas the process for starting a Trust Fund for the host community at this point is rather too tedious, hence I have made it a middle-long term goal as stated in the detailed proposal. The NYSC expects that Corps members source funds from friends and people who would trust them enough to commit funds into their hands. The best I could do given the time constraints was to open a New account, the full statement of which I will make available to anyone who wishes to verify, especially donors/sponsors. I plan to remain in Benue till July when the building project should have been concluded and the cetre handed over to the Nongov community. Thereafter, I would just play an advisory role and visit periodically. Thanks again for raising this issue.

    • Berry Choco-Latte May 9, 2012 at 7:30 PM

      VERY VERY GOOD!!!!

      I’m totally featuring this article on my blog!

      Makes me feel like I’m not doing anything worthwhile with my service year :(

      http://ajebutternysc.blogspot.com

      • Gbenga Awomodu May 9, 2012 at 11:38 PM

        Not to worry, Berry Choco-Latte. You still have some time to do a lot more. It would be great to have you share this with your contacts. Thanks again! :)

    • Amy May 9, 2012 at 9:42 PM

      This is wat the local govt chairman is supposed to do instead they will embezzle money to spend in Abuja.I will help thanks for this avenue to bring smiles to humanity

    • KingsQueen May 9, 2012 at 9:48 PM

      …A few good MEN… God bless em

    • Gidi May 9, 2012 at 10:36 PM

      Well done, Gbenga.
      I’ll be at the nearest Ecobank at the break of dawn.
      While i am eager and will contribute to this project, i’ll still continue my fight to have NYSC scrapped.

    • Michelle May 9, 2012 at 11:22 PM

      All very beautiful,
      All very worthy of every time and dime!

    • m May 10, 2012 at 12:45 AM

      NYSC aint got a spark witout NCCF….Nigeria Youth Servin Christ….God bless ur labour of love

    • Turayo May 10, 2012 at 3:44 AM

      This is what i like to hear. This is what NYSC should be about. Thanks BN for covering this and thank you Oyediran

    • Toluwanise Adesanwo May 10, 2012 at 6:05 AM

      I’m really excited about this. Great job Gbenga Awomodu. God’s taking you places.

    • yinka May 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      God bless you all…

    • kenny May 10, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Now this is what Corp members should be known for,helping people! The whole body of RCCF,NCCF,CCF!

    • christy May 10, 2012 at 10:42 PM

      Big hug to Gbenga, dat my state bt my villa is not ds poor.Hope d govt will give u guys scholarship? I felt so under achieved,I did noting during my time,bt not my fault sha,I was posted to d city.

    • yahuza getso ahmad May 11, 2012 at 1:30 AM

      This is very good initiative, we need to share it with as many as possible, it can be emulated by all other group of youth. this is great action and a good step taken

    • dukedave May 11, 2012 at 8:13 AM

      This indeed is what i call a true Re-definition of Service Corps…thank you all for this. Grace multiplied!
      Much love!

    • ochy May 11, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      God bless you Gbenga,cried all tru.I didn’t know some communities still lack basic ammendities.kip up the good works.you will heear from me soonest.

    • Tosin May 12, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      I’ll come back to read this again. Well done Gbenga. I admire people like you. I admire people who use their NYSC well. I have seen some Nigerian heroes, including a Corper who was part of Rural Rugged and NCCF and brought medical services to so many people. Then I have seen many people be as useless as a bump on a log through NYSC. Sometimes it’s the parents who have strongarmed the corpers into getting an elite posting (for which the person is neither fit nor interested), and sometimes it’s just the youngsters waiting for the perfect circumstances to be given to them before they can give anything back. This is why your piece is so important.

      In related news, there may be hundreds of experienced doctors on the market with the governor Fashola post-strike-sack. Without getting into the politics, must the doctors die in Lagos with its high cost-of-living and their low pay? Is this not a chance for several institutions (community hospitals, local governments, all 35 other states) to attract them? If government is not working to ensure health care (we are dying from bad water and mosquito bites, after all these years?) then where is the benefit, eh?

      Just a thought. A dream.

    • sesugh saawuan May 14, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      corper dats gret of u. som pple pretend nt 2 hav com 4frm such areas bt its strange dat such place exist in nig wen we hav had 13 yrs of continuos rule by a non ideological party? d place u talk abt s my locality n it has bn on my mind to meet like minds hw
      wl can save those villagers.they need attention

    • Jide Odukoya May 21, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      Weldone Gbenga…Everybody should emulate this. Hoping and looking forward to making a change in my community

    • Phillips Olaniran May 30, 2012 at 11:33 PM

      Another feather to ur cap…Gbenga and isreal