The biggest challenges of this past year has been the deteriorating security situation in Nigeria and an extended multi-year economic crisis was that left many unemployed in a hopeless situation. Hopelessness leads many people to desperate measures for survival. Kidnapping is rampant in almost all parts of Nigeria and has increased dramatically in the past year. Marauding gangs of young men terrorize rural villages. Tensions over grazing land between nomadic cattle herders and indigenous farming communities often erupt into bloody attacks and counter-attacks. Federal government attempts to crack down on these excesses have been largely unsuccessful because the kidnapping gangs are more heavily armed than the Nigerian army. All of our clinics have been affected by these violent realities and yet, they have found ways to continue the work despite the challenges. Here are a few of the highlights.
Kateri Clinic has been at the epicenter of the worst of the kidnapping crisis. It is located on the main highway between Abuja, the national capital and Kaduna, the state capital. Because of threat of kidnapping, both of our doctors have left the clinic and it has been difficult to find a doctor willing to serve there. But the nurses and midwives and CHEWs (Community Health Extension Workers) have stayed on and are taking care of as many people as they are able. In early November, we were able to hire a new doctor after a six-month hiatus. The kidnaping situation seems to have improved recently due to a heavy crack down by the Army.
Nancy Mason Clinic in Iburu has been at the epicenter of nomadic herder violence against indigenous farmers. The doctor left for fear of his life about one year ago, and we have not been able to find a doctor willing to serve there. And we have had to restrict the operation of the clinic to daylight hours only with clinic being run by one nurse, one midwife and three CHEWs.
Arthur and Esther Hospital in Gidan Waya has seen an increase in violence due to herder-farmer tensions and has been treating an increasing number of gunshot wounds. However, in spite of the dangers, we have added new wings to the hospital to accommodate a growing number of patients. The hospital has steadily increased its patient load every year since opening in 2018.
One of our three clinics in Kebbi had the entire village raided by a marauding gang of bandits. People were killed, houses were burned, everything of value was stolen. And the entire village took shelter in a refugee camp for several months. However, the danger has now subsided. The people have returned, and the clinic has reopened.
Despite all of these challenges (and many more that cannot be told in this limited space) our clinics persevere and we are serving more people than ever before. We are not quitting. We are not running away. We are continuing to find a way to serve some of the most vulnerable people on earth