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10 Febrero 2010

NIGERIA- LUNCH WITH THE ELDERLY OF KAMPANI VILLAGE

 
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Sant Egidio, a Catholic movement that started in 1968 in Rome, with the sole aim of caring for needy children has over the years extended its services to other areas of the society. It has also spread around the world and came to Nigeria in 2000. The movement started in Nigeria, in the University of Abuja by a group of young students, and is gaining roots today in the in the wider society although it is presently new in Minna.

It started in Minna in 2008 for the purpose of providing service to the children in kamapani, at the leprosarium, but later realized that the elderly in the community needed more attention. And as it is in the tradition of the community, a relationship with the elderly commenced.

The elderly is very dear to the community, because it has realize that there is a gradual demographic change around the world were a lot more people are beginning to live longer due to advancement in science and technology. As a result, many diseases that use to kill no longer do so; and people’s lifestyles have improved considerably with better food, sanitation, good and safe drinking water.  All these contribute to the increase in people’s life span,  and the world seem not to be prepared to contain the situation.

When you go around the city you will find many old people who do not have a roof over their heads, and have to beg on the street to survive. Also there are those who live in their homes but are lonely; and others live in homes that are not worthy to be called homes. What is a house without a toilet, bathroom, kitchen, or with a leaky roof or falling structure?

The community of Sant Egidio has a service to these groups, but the community of Minna is currently involved with the elderly of Kampani. Kamapani is a community of treated leapers who can no longer integrate into the society due to rejection and stigmatization; therefore, they have formed a colony where they feel at home with people of their kind who share a common history.

When we started visiting Kampani we noticed that the  older ones stay at home all day under the tree doing nothing. They sometimes don’t have anything to say to each other. As our friendship got stronger and better, we decided to find out how they are faring and to know what their problems are, even if we can’t solve them, at least, a problem shared is a problem half solved. This was how we got to know about their horrible living conditions. But we were determined not to be so sad that we can’t celebrate; at least,  we have the gift of life.

A s  is in the tradition of the International community of Sant Egidio to have a Christmas lunch with the poor; because even if one has money, you may be lonely, so this year the Minna community joined the rest of the world on this large table of the Christmas lunch to eat, wine, and dine on Christmas afternoon. We had the Christmas lunch in Kampani where we invited 32 elderly people in the community to join us at the lunch table. They were so happy that on this  Christmas day, December 25, 2009, they where not alone under the tree eating left over as usual, but treated on a round table lunch in a beautifully decorated hall with friends; having a three course meal and later dancing to nice music. This was a beautiful day for them, but a dream come true for us to see smiles and laughter on their faces, and to see that they celebrate Christmas and not just live on Christmas day.

We hope for more celebration with them and to build a stronger relationship where we all see each other as a one big family of Sant’Egidio. We hope for better things in 2010. Happy New Year from Sant’Egidio.


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