In the rural villages of North-Eastern Nigeria, the drought is creating huge problems for the population. From Onitsha (a 24-hour journey away), some youths and adults of the Focolare went to visit to share the situation and bring some material and spiritual help.
In Nigeria, there is great inequality in the development between cities and rural villages where there are almost no infrastructures and no electricity, medical care, roads, etc. Yakoko is one of these villages located closest to the desert, amid mountains – where the Christian and Muslim communities have always lived in great harmony. In the evening after working the fields, the men gather in the square to discuss while sipping an alcoholic drink produced from their Guinea corn.
Some years back, a missionary, Sr. Suor Patricia Finba, had brought to Yakoko the spirituality of the Focolare and Felix, Abubacar, Nicodemus, Loreto, Father Giorge Jogo and others had made it their way of life. Last year they welcomed to their village more than 200 people who had arrived from the various regions of Nigeria, to get to know the Focolare spirit better.
This year a group of youth and adults of Onitsha decided to pass a few days there. After a journey of 24 hours – which was at times dangerous – in over-packed public vans, loaded with bags and packs, they were warmly welcomed by the community into their homes.
«We participated in their lives – Luce recounted – sharing all with them», «and – Cike added – we noticed that the youth were interested not so much in material goods, the clothes and medicine we had brought, but the spiritual ones, our friendship and our life-treasure: the discovery of God who is Love.»
And so they decided to stay with us for a day of meditation, going on an excursion in the mountains which with its arid beauty, is an invitation to meditate. «It was an important event – Imma recounted. In an atmosphere of deep friendship we shared the values we believe in and on which we have based our lives.» And then in the following days, together we brought the material help to those in need, especially the elderly and the children and the many refugees who had come from the northern regions. We visited five villages.
A Muslim community welcomed them with particular joy. Some of them had already started to live for unity in the world and with them we immediately felt a family atmosphere in which we shared joys and sufferings in that area. The villages, in fact, were undergoing a really difficult time due to the drought, and by tradition they had asked an important person of the village to pray for rain. But the rain did not come, and they had thus decided to kill this person.
«On hearing this decision we were shocked and also started to pray to God to send rain – Luce continued – and in fact, on the third day, He blessed us with a great rainfall! But apart from the rain, we were so happy to have saved a person’s life.»