“Instead of me providing it is me receiving,” observed Samson Adamu when he finished passing through the line to receive his sleeping mats, bucket and soap. Adamu is from one of the 995 families who received assistance from MCC through partner, EPRT (Emergency Preparedness Response Teams) because of the conflict that has engulfed Wase LGA.
Many of the beneficiaries were confused by the question, “why are you here?” Their forefathers have lived in peaceful coexistence with their neighbors for generations. The different ethnic groups accepted their differences and lived with them. Faith was not an issue to kill for.
Samson describes how just months earlier he had hosted those who came to attack his community, giving them places to sleep and food to eat. The best he could discern why they came back to attack in April 2013 was “religion”. Samson is a faithful Muslim and his attackers, he knew, were Christian. In other parts of Plateau State Muslims have attacked Christian communities.
Sakinatu Hassan, a mother of four, describes how she and her family have been surviving since they ran from their community, fearing for their lives. “Part of our Muslim faith is that we are to care for people who are 70 homes behind us, 70 homes ahead of us, 70 homes to the right and 70 homes to the left. The people of Wase have been faithful and have sacrificed for us.”
The husband of Saadatu Zakare (20) was not present at the distribution. He was working on a farm where he was paid a small amount of money that he would use to care for his wife and the imminent arrival of their first child. As Saadatu looked at the items that were given to her because she was among the fifty pregnant women, she remarked, “for me these items have come at the right time. The only things that are missing are clothing for the baby.”
EPRT has been working throughout Plateau State for more than a decade. They have developed a strong volunteer base made up of more than 270 educated, skilled and experienced volunteers who are able to detect and respond to early warning signs of disaster and conflict. Many of these volunteers are called in to mediate differences. Much credit is being attributed to EPRT volunteers for mitigating violence as a response to conflict.
Unfortunately, disaster happens and violence does break out periodically, so EPRT volunteers are some of the first responders. Military and police commanders, government officials and traditional rulers, frequently consult with EPRT volunteers when there are tough decisions to make or when mediation needs to happen.
Muhammad Lawal is a 10-year veteran of EPRT volunteers from Wase. He led the EPRT team in carrying out the needs assessment among the displaced and helped to facilitate the distribution. Together with MCC Peace Coordinator, Mugu Zaka Bakko, before starting the distribution Lawal reminded the people of the peace that used to be part of their communities: “Religion, whether Islam or Christianity, should be a source of peace not violence.”
“Politicians should be serving you, the people!” said Mugu. He advised the youth especially not to allow themselves to be used by these political leaders to kill and destroy as part of the upcoming elections. “They will be close to you before the elections, but when they get into power they will no longer remember who you are.”
Samson noted how the leading political figure of Wase, the Emir, had designated land for displaced people to farm, which has been very helpful. That was one of the ways how he, his four wives and 14 children were surviving.
Samson was full of gratitude for the assistance given by MCC (through EPRT) but was looking forward to the time when peace could be rebuilt in Wase and he would be on the giving end again.