By Emiko Perea
In recent years, numerous acts of violence and kidnappings from extremist groups and gangs have disrupted life in Kaduna State in Nigeria. These destructive acts threaten the security and well-being of people in communities and undermine peaceful coexistence among the state’s diverse population. Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria, the Kukah Centers, Christian Counseling of Nigeria (CNN), and others collaborated on a program in Kaduna to help kidnapping victims and their caregivers recover from their trauma and take control of their lives. In August, a total of forty victims and forty caregivers participated in the program.
“If you don’t offer yourself for healing, you won’t be healed,” said Father Sixtus Onuh during the psychosocial support program in Kaduna. “Every survivor needs help. Your physical, emotional, psychological, and social being is wounded and needs healing.”
Not only did the program help victims recover from their experiences, but it encouraged them to forgive, reintegrate into their communities, and take proactive steps to protect their communities.
GPF Country Director Reverend John Hayab said that the program allowed victims to put their lives back together after their horrific experiences. “Psycho-social support helps individuals and communities to heal psychological wounds and rebuild social structures after a critical event such as a kidnapping experience,” he said. “It can help change people into active survivors rather than passive victims.”
The participants watched presentations and were divided into three groups: parents/guardians, youth, and children. They spoke about their experiences and made suggestions. The groups presented the lessons they learned from the program, such as the need for parents to listen to their children and support them. Participants were also warned about seeking revenge against kidnappers since this could lead to further kidnapping. Participants realized that they needed to practice forgiveness for the betterment of their families and communities.
The victims and their families reported that they greatly benefited from the program. They wanted to open the program up to people who currently have kidnapped loved ones to educate them on how to handle hostage situations. They also wanted other parts of the community to become involved in the program in the future.
Participants proposed policies to prevent further kidnapping incidents. This included suggesting installing security cameras and deploying more security personnel in the inner communities.
For more information on Global Peace Foundation’s peacebuilding work in Nigeria, visit Global Peace Foundation Nigeria.