Many elderly and other vulnerable people in the Nigeria Episcopal Area won’t go to bed hungry thanks to food relief distributed by United Methodists.
The church in Nigeria received a Sheltering in Love grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Through that fund and additional support from its parent agency, the Board of Global Ministries, some $2.3 million was distributed through 230 Sheltering in Love grants. The program was created to help United Methodists and denominational partners support local communities during the pandemic.
More than 350 people benefited from the COVID-19 food assistance in the four conferences of the Nigeria Episcopal Area, which is led by Bishop John Wesley Yohanna.
Dr. Godfrey Ogbu, principal medical officer at United Methodist Nigeria Hospital and leader of the distribution team, said the grant was used to buy food — including rice, beans, Maggi seasoning and salt — as well as soap and detergent.
“We chose to help these people because they are vulnerable,” said Ogbu. “COVID-19 is often severe in vulnerable people that are older than 70 years or those who have some health challenges. These vulnerable people are supposed to stay at home to be safe. This token given to them is to encourage them to stay at home.”
According to data from a World Bank phone survey covering 15,000 households in Nigeria and analyzed by researchers from the Brookings Global Economy and Development program, more than 70 percent of respondents in both rural and urban areas of Nigeria are facing food insecurity during the pandemic.
Augustine Jeji, director of connectional ministries for the Central Nigeria Conference, said the assistance is vital.
“There are many people who are looking for such help, but very few have received it,” he said.
He said he is thankful for UMCOR and the leadership of the bishop in improving the lives of members of the church. “May we continue to do so in order to build the body of Christ.”
Auta Magaji, one of the beneficiaries, was overwhelmed by the gift. “I think I am alone, but I do not know God is remembering me through some people who are not even in our country. They are not here, but their spirit has touched us. We have seen and tasted their goodness. You are far away, but (we are) together in one spirit in Christ,” he said. Titi Maigoro, a Muslim woman, also received support.
“I am very happy with these food items given to me. This will be very helpful. My mouth will eat something good today. I am homeless and have no children. I am too old to go to farms and look for food,” she said. “Thank you very much for putting a smile on my face today.”
Peter Danyaro, 51, who is blind, said the support is much needed and appreciated. “My stomach today is full … God bless the people who helped.”