By Nathan Johnson
10/30/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Pwaguri Hickson is a 34-year-old father of five from the village of Bolon in Adamawa, Nigeria. He is one of the beneficiaries of ICC’s farm projects, which serve communities destroyed by Fulani militants. Hickson served as a secretary during the implementation of the Kikan farm cluster.
In a recent interview, Hickson described his life prior to the ongoing attacks by the Fulani militia.
“We had always lived peaceably with [the Fulani],” he said. “Even though we’ve had civil disputes that were a result of them trespassing their cattle to graze on our crops, we had a way of settling our differences amicably in front of the traditional rulers.”
Hickson described the confusion and betrayal he felt when his community was suddenly the target of attacks: “It’s really strange that overnight these same people that we had lived quite peacefully with for many years would suddenly take up arms against us to kill us and burn down our villages, crops, and livestock without any provocation or justifiable reason whatsoever.”
After finishing his secondary school education as a young man, Hickson decided to study premed to positively impact his community as a doctor. He had to wait to save up money in order to pursue his dream. However, his plans changed in 2018, when 96 of his community members were killed and more than 7,000 were displaced in a series of attacks by the Fulani militia.
“Unfortunately, my dream was shattered at the advent of this crisis. Our means of livelihood was taken away from us and whatever assets we had were destroyed. This made it impossible to further my studies. Life became really difficult and unbearable for me and my community. We were all hurt from the loss of friends and loved ones. Our means of survival was taken away from us; we went about hungry, and we could no longer afford any change of clothes.”
Abel Hananiya, 42, is also from Adamawa, Nigeria. Hananiya served as the public relations officer during the 2018 implementation of the Shafaron farm cluster. He is the breadwinner for his family of ten.
Like Hickson, Hananiya remembers a time when his people lived peacefully alongside the Fulani herdsmen community.
“We have always lived in peace and harmony with the Fulani… It wasn’t until recently that the Fulani suddenly turned against us and began a series of attacks on us, killing, maiming, and destroying our homes and farms. It is important to note that this sudden reign of terror on us was unprovoked.”
Hananiya had big dreams as well and knew from a young age that he wanted to become a military officer. “That made me [want] to work hard on the farm,” he explained. “I was able to rear livestock and stockpile foodstuff which I would later sell to finance my dream of becoming a military officer. Unfortunately, I lost everything when this whole crisis began.”
In December of 2017, armed Fulani militants invaded Hananiya’s village, killing and destroying everything in sight. After trying to resettle back home, life as he knew it was forever changed.
“Life has really been tough. I was forced to cater and be responsible for my aged mother and younger siblings in addition to providing for my own wife and children. This was very difficult for me to handle because there was virtually nothing left for us to survive on.”
The mass murder of Christians in Adamawa State is a devastating reality that expands across much of the Middle Belt in Nigeria. To combat the effects of such attacks, ICC coordinates with local community and church leaders to implement communal farm projects. For the Adamawa community, practical relief for the survivors took the form of clusters of farms throughout the region.
“It was in the midst of all these sorrows that God Almighty sent ICC to bring the communal farm intervention,” said Hickson. “That intervention was God-sent because it brought about a great deal of success and relief to us.”
To facilitate these farms, ICC provided the seed, fertilizer, plowing and ridging, water pumps, fuel, pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, sprayers, and boreholes for pumps. We also hired tractors which saved farmers on expenses.
“We experienced a great turnaround in our lives as a family and also as a community and the renewed hope for a better future was birthed,” Hickson declared.
He continued, “Through the relief intervention, I was able to rebuild and roof my two-room apartment which was destroyed during the crisis, I also was able to purchase a motorcycle, which is being used for commercial business and that brings in an average of N6,000.00 ($15 USD) on a weekly basis. Again, I became empowered to finance my personal farm which has been truly successful. Through it all, I can be proud to say that I am now able to give my family the life that they truly deserve. I can now afford to pay for my children’s education and other bills and it’s all thanks to God Almighty and to ICC.”
Hananiya agreed with Hickson, stating, “Things soon began to turn around when ICC started their intervention program in our community. Personally, I was able to find my footing and regain my balance in life. Through ICC’s intervention, I can now proudly say that providing [food] for my family is no longer a challenge. In fact, I am now able to comfortably sponsor my children’s education.”
Hananiya continued, “I have some livestock which I acquired from the proceeds of the grains I sold from some of our portion (19 bags) of the ICC farm. I am now able to finance my personal farm and, this year, I engaged in irrigation farming and my farm turned out a yield of up to 40 bags of rice. All of this became possible because of the empowerment I received through the instrumentality of ICC.”
“Although my ambition to become a military officer has been put aside, I am happy because I am empowered to train my children in school and give them the opportunity that I didn’t have,” Hananiya explained. “I am hopeful that my children will achieve all [that] I was unable to achieve through the education that they’re receiving. It is indeed heartwarming to know that brethren from faraway America are concerned about our plight which prompted their hearts to give. We pray God’s continued blessings upon them and their families.”
“We’d like to request that [you] not relent in offering prayers to God on our behalf,” added Hickson. “That He will sustain the relative peace that is gradually returning to our communities and that we’ll learn to live together with one another in peace and harmony even better than it was before.”
To read more stories like this, sign up for ICC’s free monthly magazine.