by MARY MAGEE
David Savage with some of the lepers he met during his visit to Nigeria
David Savage helps get dinner ready
David Savage meeting with a Paramount Chief, Kaduna State
LISBURN man David Savage has just returned from a eight-week visit to
the Kaduna State in Nigeria.
David, a retired Lisnagarvey teacher and member of the Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church, has visited the area before and was helping to hand out corn and yam seed and compile a report for Mission Africa - who are celebrating their 250th anniversary this year.
David would like to raise £20,000 to help bore holes that would produce wells and provide much needed water for much of the region.
He travelled over 4,000 miles across the region along with his driver Lukagaiyea Tufu visiting areas and striking up new relations with people as well as helping to spread the Christian word.
He met other Christian groups, who have been working on the ground in orphanages and villages, and met local chiefs in the region of Fulani to renew and strike up new relationships with them.
David was based at an orphanage based at Kadunda where he heard many horror stories of how many orphans came to be there. Some were classed as 'witch children' (ill-treated by witch doctors) others abandoned and some were simply poor street children.
"While I was there, we heard of three of the children at the orphanage who were 'witch children'," he said. "They had been adopted by a man who had went to a witch doctor for help when his cattle had died. The witch doctor blamed the children that the man had recently adopted and so 'treated' the children. As a result one of the children has been left with a club foot when his leg was badly twisted round, another was badly burned while the third, a three year old girl, has been scarred for life and will never be able to have children."
David, a married father-of-two, has been going to Nigeria since 2008 spreading Christianity and even helped with the construction of a four classroom Christian Primary School.
Speaking about his time, David said: "There is a lot of persecution going on against Christians and their churches. Just recently a Christian church, which had 400 worshippers, was blown up by a Muslim car bomber in the city of Jos. Thankfully, no one was in the building at the time but I saw the devastation."
He was at a village which he visited before, that was again completely destroyed during an attack. Many people had been killed including the chief's two sons and brother and the only building that survived was a small primary school.
Despite the horror he witnessed he was always treated well wherever he went and welcomed with open arms.
"Where we went we were always welcomed, but children at first are scared stiff of us," he said.
"During our time there, when there was a lot of digging bores for wells there was a small five-year-old child who was killed when she fell 100 feet into an open well. It was a difficult time and really heartbreaking. We had been asked by the family to attend the funeral. They felt that it was an honour for us to be there."
David is eager to return to Nigeria next year when the £20,000 is raised and bring with him voluntary doctors and nurses. He compiled a report which he has sent to Mission Africa.
"We felt that there was a great need of vaccination for children," he said. "There is a great need for small clinics, medical aid centres, schools in rural areas. I felt there is a definite need for more HIV and Aids education as there is an Aids increase."
Orphans at Gidan Bege, Kagoro
Orphans at Gidan Bege, Kagoro
A destroyed village in civil unrest, school left intact, Zonkwa