A WINCHESTER charity worker has visited Nigeria as part of efforts to help millions of people left homeless by conflict.
David Pain of Clifton Road travelled to the west African country to meet families who have fled their homes amid the ongoing violence caused by terrorist group Boko Haram, The trip to the north-east of the country was also a chance to witness the work of charity Christian Aid where he is fundraising director, ahead of the annual Christian Aid Week.
In the three most affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, almost seven million people require humanitarian assistance and urgently need food, water and shelter.
In some areas, the population has doubled as people seek refuge elsewhere to escape the violence, and David visited camps for displaced people in Borno state.
David said: “We travelled by helicopter, and as we moved across the flat, sandy terrain with the temperature climbing to 45 degrees, we could see many villages that had been burnt to the ground. Blackened remains of homes and farms are all that remain of the disruption brought by the Boko Haram conflict.
“People have been living in the camps for a year already; the local government official says that he expects people to remain here for a further two years.”
David met Emmanual Hena, a Christian Aid volunteer helping to organise a food distribution.
“He arrived in the camp six months ago and walked 15 miles to reach Maiduguri. He is one of the 100 people who have volunteered to help. He told me how he is passionate about helping people in need,” said David.
Through local partner organisations, Christian Aid has reached 200,000 of the two million displaced from their homes, providing essential food, water and sanitation supplies.
Families living in temporary camps have been given rice, beans and cooking oil; cooking pots and other utensils. The charity is also installing latrines and water pumps, to provide access to safe water and reduce the risk of infection.
Last year in Hampshire supporters raised nearly £200,000 for Christian Aid Week through a mixture of house to house collections, picnics, sponsored walks and Big Brekkies hosted by churches and individuals.
This year sees the launch of a brand new event, “Big Bike to Brekkie”, on May 20.
Cyclists from as far afield as Tadley, Basingstoke and Portsmouth are cycling across Hampshire to Winchester Cathedral for breakfast.
“With the public’s support during the coming months, Christian Aid will continue to provide food,’ said David.
“We will also work to help people to return to their farms and businesses, helping them to re-establish a source of income and rebuild their homes.”