Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) Africa in partnership with Angel Flight Club (AFC) and Evangelical Mission Society (EMS of ECWA) took free medical services to Donkin Community, Yorro Local Government Area, Taraba State from the 27th to 30th of April, 2017.
This time the weather and our adversary were held back by the grace of God. The first attempt to get to this location ended in Gampu – a community at the foot of the mountain. AFC provided the aircraft that conveyed 22 volunteers to Donkin Hills (circa 5,000 feet above sea level), in North-Eastern Nigeria. The experienced / committed Pilot and a volunteer of AFC in a total of eight flights with the Cessna 172 airlifted the 22 volunteers that came from different parts of the country from Jalingo Airport to Donkin Hills. This was quite exciting for the volunteers taking the opportunity to go up and express the love of God among the lost and the forgotten people of Donkin.
Ahead of the flight an advance team of AFC volunteers had gone to the mountain by foot to ensure the airstrip is still okay and organise pre-arrival logistics. This was a significant sacrifice of 9 hour walk up the mountain and God gave the grace.
What makes Donkin Hills unique? Why this sacrifice to Donkin Hills? Why would CBN partner with AFC and EMS of ECWA to go on this mission at such cost?
Donkin Hills apart from its altitude of 5,000ft and difficult terrain it is home to about ten thousand (10,000) people. The mountain spans two local governments in Taraba state. Three quarters of Donkin Hills is in Yorro Local Government Area (LGA) while one quarter is in Bali Local Government Area. The mountain is home to three tribes – Mumuye with a population of about six thousand (6,000) people; Fulani with a population of about three thousand (3,000) people and Chamber with a population of about one thousand (1,000) people. The settlements include Donkin (the main settlement), Bante, Gamsati, Dongkolong and Babalande where various Mission Agencies are located however due to the terrain they experience significant difficulty being effective. The inhabitants are mainly farmers and shepherds. Some are involved in beekeeping also.
The 10,000 inhabitants on the donkin hill who have lived there for over a hundred years can be described as the forgotten people with no basic health facility, education, electricity, portable water, roads, social amenity and generally inaccessible by most means of transportation all year. They are completely cut off from civilisation. The critical issues these mountain dwellers face include the lack of;
- Clean water
- Good sanitation
- Healthy nutrition
- Good Healthcare
The absence of medical care leave the people with no option but to depend on traditional / native medication for survival. Critical or life threatening ill health for individuals that can afford medical care are lifted down the hills for 15 hours on foot by four or eight able bodied men on makeshift stretchers. If they are fortunate to get down the hill alive, it takes another 4 hours by road to Jalingo for proper medical care.
This medical outreach is the first of its kind in the community. The team had no form of basic health facility for consultation and simple surgical procedures and had no option but to make do with the small EMS church in the community for the minor surgical procedures performed. Consultations and laboratory investigations took place under trees, which was the only option available. God Almighty took control of the weather and there was no rains all through the duration of the medical outreach. The lack of clean water was a serious challenge in the community. It was so bad and critical that the team were unable to find clean water to drink or bath all through the stay in the community. However, none of this deterred the team from executing God’s mission.
A total of 1195 people benefited from the various services rendered. The major health challenges isolated and treated were water related diseases with such chronic allergic diseases more pronounced on skins and on the eyes. Cases of water and sanitation related diseases were gastrointestinal related infection such as peptic ulcer, typhoid fever and worms were quite alarming. There was a suspected case of Onchocerciasis (River Blindness – caused by the parasitic worm, Onchocerca Volvus), and Tenia Pedis (athlete’s foot – a fungal infection), Other conditions treated included Arthritis, Hypertension, Haematuria, Cough and several other cases of infectious diseases. The incidence of malnutrition, malaria and anaemia were quite disturbing. Some cases of viral infections were reviewed and recommended a follow-up for anti-retroviral. This calls for immediate intervention to reduce high mortality rate. We hope and pray to God that a health centre would be established on top of the mountain.
Total number of beneficiaries 1195
Number surgeries 10
Number of medicated glasses 95
Faith Decisions 29
One interesting thing that played out during the mission was the emergence of a number of desperate people from the foot of the mountain, and others from Ganye Local Government area in far away Adamawa state. They spent two days walking up the hills to access the venue of the medical missions only to arrive after the medical mission had come to an end with only four volunteers left to be airlifted back to Jalingo and few medication left. Still, they were attended to for coming all the way to seek help.
We are not unaware of the devices of the wicked one but we rest on the authority of the one who said, “go, lo I am with you always,” so it was the Lord who brought us back from the hills safely even when the devil attempted to frustrate the return of all the volunteers. There was a sudden instruction for the closure of the Jalingo airport by the airport authority, which affected the remaining team airlift from the hills. The return of the Taraba State Governor from Abuja and by divine intervention with God’s favor, the insistence, and follow up of the team with Taraba state officials, the airport was reopened!
Just about the time AFC aircraft was taking off from the airport to the hill to bring the remaining volunteers back, the aircraft carrying the governor also landed. Sighting our aircraft prompted the Governor to enquire about the aircraft and he was briefed by his personal physician about us. There and then, the Governor (Architect Darius.D Ishiaku) asked the personal physician to arrange a meeting with him in the government house that evening by 8.00pm. The Governor had dinner with the team before going into full briefing of our mission to Donkin. Below are the governor’s remarks:
“I am quite delighted with the coming together of the Angel Flight Club which is a mission aviation organization and the Christian Broadcasting Network to help the people of Taraba State, particularly the Donkin people who are inaccessible except by air and on foot. I want to use this opportunity to thank you immensely for dedicating your time and resources to go into the hinterland. For going along with a medical team to render health services I am very happy. You are assisting the state government and we are therefore, willing to partner with you people, help you where we can, so that you can do more for our people in Taraba State. I want to thank you for the services you have been rendering.”
In deed the medical mission was a huge success to the glory of the Lord. Thanks to the partnership with Angel Flight Club that provided the aviation support, EMS of ECWA that provided the platform and CBN Africa that mobilised volunteers to provide medical services that put smiles on the faces of Donkin people.