Gyang Bere, Jos
It was a boisterous atmosphere recently at Privilege Abode for Care of Orphans and Widows Foundation, Bukuru in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State when the Commander of the Special Task Force (STF), Major General Agustine Agundu, provided lifeline for children whose parents were murdered during crises and herdsmen attacks in Barkin-Ladi and Riyom Local Governments.
Excitement pervaded the air and joy was palpable on the faces of the children on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, when some military personnel were offloading bags of rice, noodles, mattresses, mats, pillows, buckets and other items at the orphanage to cushion hardship in the lives of the children.
Until that day, most of the children were sleeping on bare floor. The management was restless and disturbed even as the harmattan that comes with dust and wind and was fast approaching.
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Feeding was another source of concern as their foodstuffs had finished when the STF Commander decided to donate the food materials. Most of the children lost their parents at tender age by watching them murdered in cold blood.
Director of the foundation, Mr. Abel Paul Mala, said the orphanage came into being when there was an outbreak of violence by different cult groups aftermath of Jos crisis.
He noted with dismay the bloody encounter between some of the children who called themselves “jungle boys” and the community vigilance group in Gyel, Bukuru, Jos South LG. He tried to find out the cause of this violent behavior from the children.
His findings revealed that the children were a product of crisis, as abandoned orphans left on the street. Some
of the children with violent behaviors are children of the weak and poor widows who cannot afford education, feeding, clothing, shelter and other social needs of the children:
“The foundation responded to the biblical injunction of rescuing and taking care of such children by taking a step in faith to establish an educational facility to serve as rehabilitation and skill acquisition centre. We have enrolled about 120 pupils at a rented building in Gyero Junction, Bukuru Express road. There is still fear in these children.
Some of these children saw their loved ones killed their houses burned down. When you engage some of them, they end up in tears, recalling the gory memory of what happened.”
Nine-year-old Bitrus Markus said he became violent when he felt that people around him were not helping him to survive: “I have no hope of surviving when my father and mother were killed, our house was burnt and nobody was willing to help me.”
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His situation was not different with James Pam. He also lost his parents and grew up with his grandmother who could not afford to pay for his education. He hails from Riyom Local Government lost his parents to herdsmen attacks in Shonong and their house burnt down.
Agundu said the children have not done anything to deserve what they are passing through. He lamented that most cultists and armed robbers terrorising residents of Jos and environs are victims of crisis in the state.
He said 11 cultists who operate in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North Central were arrested in Jos recently: “As part of the Chief of Defence Staff directives, and to conform to the guidelines of our operations simultaneously conducted CIMIC activities in pursuit of the fulfilment of the mandate as part of its non kinetic line of operation.
“Some of the non-kinetic activities conducted include, free medical outreach programmes and donations of relief materials to some communities in IDP camps. The point of our non-kinetic operations conducted was the donation of various relief materials such as mattresses, blankets, pillows, mats, bags of rice, buckets, cooking oil, and other essential commodities to this Orphanage home.”