We set off at about 1:10 pm for the village of Effium on Friday the 30th of July 2010. We guess that the journey should last about two hours and truly we arrive at the main market in Effium in about an hour thirty minutes’ time. The journey truly begins here as the bus stalls and we have to change buses and take all our materials and ‘pure’ water to the new bus.
We turn off to a bush path that passes between extensive cassava farms. The path is marshy and the driver moves quicly to avoid being stuck as we bounce around inside the bus our heads hitting the roof and sides.
Despite the driver’s best efforts, we still get stuck and we all get off the bus as the boys try to push the bus out of the sod. We are in the middle of yet another cassava farm and we look closer around at the cassava farm we are in the middle of noticing that different crops grow on each mound – tomato, eggplant, corn and groundnut all growing side by side on a single mound with cassava as the main crop. There are no vehicles here besides the bus we are in. The main means of transportation is ‘okada’ and these are few and far between so that the average number of people on a bike is 4. Someone soon comes along carrying only one passenger and a very large sack containing what appears to be ‘eja gbigbe’ (dried smoked fish). He drives past us so quickly that we barely have enough time to jump out of the way to avoid being hit by the sack. Some of us land amongst the mounds in the farm. One of the ‘fish’ falls off and on closer inspection, we see that it isn’t fish but some sort of amphibious creature – I believe it is a frog but some say it is a toad. Either way I feel nauseated. Can you imagine someone cooking a soup with dried toad? The boys have pushed out the bus and we pile in to continue our journey until we get stuck again about 10 minutes walk from the primary school where we are to camp. We decide to leave the bus and carry our materials on foot to the camp. It is about 4.30 pm when we get to the camp.
We have prayers and thanksgiving as we arrive at camp and we go out in groups with ibo interpreters to meet the villagers and invite them to the primary school where the service is to hold. We pass by donkeys tethered beside the path as we go into the community. One of them has A.E branded on its skin. A guy in my group wants to stand beside them for his picture but he moves away quickly as he can’t stand the smell. I am too afraid to stand near them – their heads are so huge – so I take my picture from afar.
The houses in the village are far between with expansive cassava and rice farms between and walking the distance from one house to another can take as long as five minutes. We pass a few small streams that cut across the paths. The villagers are quite happy to see us and they are willing to listen to what we have to say. We return to the camp at about 6:10 pm and we see that quite a lot of them have gathered and we are almost through with setting up for the movie we are showing and lighting up the area – we brought wires, bulbs and a generator. The film we are showing is the Jesus film translated to Igbo. Heavy rain interrupts our showing the movie for about an hour and thirty minutes and while we wait, we pray that it stops soon so that we can continue. The rain stops an hour and thirty minutes later and we get back to what we were doing. The whole service lasts from 6 till 10 p.m when the food is ready. I am too tired to eat even though it smells – and probably tastes – good. I opt to sleep immediately and it isn’t long before I leave the village of Effium for mine. I do not even wake up to participate in the prayer chain.
We awake at 5 a.m for devotion after which the dilemma of cleanup faces me. The memories of the streams I saw the day before discourages me from taking a bath so I opt for ‘rub and shine along with a change of wear. Some others – no, I won’t mention names – are with me on this and we move off to get ready. We have sanitation around the camp site. There is another round of door – to – door evangelism and that takes us till about 11.30 a.m when we turn around and head back. I am filled with compassion for these people as I see their standard of life – they live in mud huts, there is no electricity, they live on subsistent farming, the school we are at has no seats, is made of mud and the separating walls for the 4 or so classrooms are broken down.
By the time we get back, long queues have formed at the makeshift clinic and counseling centers. We have welfare, barbers and hairdressers as well as prayer unit. Everybody seems to be well settled in what they are doing so I go to lie down under the tree and talk with the Rabonni.
My tiredness soon gets the better of me as I drop off to sleep on the mat. I have no idea how long I’ve slept but when I wake up the lines are still long and continues to be till about 3 p.m when the medicines are exhausted.
The lunch is bean porridge and garri. We take a break and prepare for an evening service. The evening service begins at about 5 p.m with praise and worship and there is a drama which I do not understand partly because my brain is two beats behind due to tiredness and because it is in ibo. I enjoy the rest of the service even though I am tired and spend the most part of it lying on a mat. The service lasts till about 10 p.m and we are tired even though the villagers do not want to leave. We take our supper which is eba and egusi soup. Big ups to the kitchen ministry btw. They know their stuff. It is 11 p.m and time for praise night. We dance and sing and some of the villagers still around join in. I join in the prayer chain this time. Praise night ends at about 1.15 p.m and we settle down to sleep spent but satisfied. It rains later on in the night.
Devotion holds at 5.30 a.m this time and all the while I am thinking that, though I am grateful God did a lot through us at this place I am glad this mission is at an end. I haven’t really taken off my socks since we got here. I sleep with them on as well. Sanitation and a personal rub – and – shine session later, it is time to leave and the buses start arriving at about 8.30. We pack up and get into the buses that begin to leave at about 9.30. We get to the family house at about 11.30 an the first order of business is a bath. I do my laundry all the while hoping that the waist of my khaki trousers shrink and finally fit me. A girl can dream.