In Nigeria, as in many areas of the world, substance abuse is a critical concern. United Methodist youth are not exempt from the harmful or hazardous use of alcohol and illicit drugs.
Helping to address this issue is the Kapwa Wholeness Foundation, which recently received a United Methodist Peace with Justice grant, supported by the Peace with Justice Sunday offering. Based in Adamawa State in northeastern Nigeria, the program focuses on educating and rehabilitating 100 youth to encourage healthy living.
"The youth are the hope of every society," said the Rev. Eunice Musa Iliya, a United Methodist pastor and founder/managing director of the foundation. "They carry the legacies handed to them by elders to the next generation. Therefore, helping them to stay healthy and vibrant is of paramount importance. It is the responsibility of all institutions to offer hope and protect young people from the negative health and welfare consequences of … substances."
She noted research that indicates that ignorance, peer pressure and availability of drugs often lead young people to experimentation. The youth become vulnerable to homelessness, teen pregnancy and psychological problems. "The consequences of substance abuse among youth," Iliya said, also "affects parents, loved ones, extended family members and the entire community."
Asserting that "wholeness and freedom cannot be traded for anything," Kapwa strives to nurture youth to reach their potential. "Combating these systemic issues at all costs," Iliya continued, "is worth reaching out and investing in it collectively. We started with 150 people; today we have about 400 participants. Twenty young people … have become sober through the activities of the program. They need your prayers."
The Rev. Beziel Yayuba Yoila, Kona District superintendent and administrative assistant to Bishop John Wesley Yohanna, agreed. "Supporting this program financially," he said., "will reduce the number of dropout youth from school, loss of lives and [restrict] criminal behavior. If these 100 youth had the opportunity to receive skills-acquisition training, they will be empowered to create jobs for themselves."
Kapwa strives to:
- Educate youth on the menace of substance abuse;
- Teach that addiction is a disease;
- Sensitize youth that education is power and freedom;
- Encourage the church to reach out to addicts in love;
- Educate the community about the need for collaboration in addressing addiction;
- Network with other nongovernmental organizations;
- Educate parents to support their addicted children in love; and
Empower youth to acquire skills and support their quest for independence.
Begun in March 2018, Kapwa Wholeness Foundation has garnered support from families, as well as Christian and Muslim religious leaders. A long-term goal is to build a rehabilitation center.
On Peace with Justice Sunday, traditionally celebrated with an offering on the First Sunday after Pentecost, United Methodists support programs like the Kapwa Wholeness Foundation. Half of the offering goes to Peace with Justice ministries in the annual conference. The remainder assists the General Board of Church and Society for its Peace with Justice efforts.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Peace with Justice Sunday enables The United Methodist Church to have a voice in advocating for peace and justice through a broad spectrum of global programs. The special offering benefits peace with justice ministries in the annual conference and through the General Board of Church and Society.