The Social Outreach Ministry of the ICC Chaplaincy (ICCC) is the charity organ of this Catholic chaplaincy. Comprising of 12 lay members drawn from the 170 Catholic nationalities, who constitute the ICC Chaplaincy – Nigerians, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Ghanaians, Americans, Brazilians, and many others that we have been blessed with, this ministry is making a tremendous impact in the lives of the poor.
This ministry inspired by the Ignatian Spirituality, which is inculcated and practiced by the various pastoral program of the ANW Jesuit chaplains from the founding moment of this chaplaincy till this present time.
The core values of the Social Outreach Ministry is drawn from the Ignatian principles of compassion, solidarity with the poor by our presence and personal encounter, generosity, financial gifts, other gifts such as medications, toiletries, foodstuff, empowerment of gifted but indigent young people, anonymous donations from members, organizing social events of the ICCC, advocacy for the lowly and general selfless services.
Feeding the Vulnerable during COVID-19 Lockdown 2020
The spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has taken Africa by a storm, causing severe disruptions in all aspects of life, including religious, financial, and social-economic rhythm. The economic crisis following the COVID-19 pandemic is intensified by the Lockdowns of many Countries in Africa. Being a developing country, Nigeria, and similar countries, are badly hit by this unfortunate situation. Many Nigerians who hitherto depended on daily income from menial jobs and those who live from hand-to-mouth, begging on our streets, are either stealing or starving to death. The poor who are bedridden due to old age also suffers greatly in this predicament.
So, reading the signs of our time – the hunger, the sickness, the sufferings of humanity, and the uncertainties, it became imperative on the Outreach Ministry to rise to the occasion. In the words of our chaplain, Fr. Kevin-Maria Odey, SJ: “We have to reach out now, by any means within our métier, to those who desperately need help.” In response, we held a virtual meeting (of the Social Outreach Ministry) to decide on a strategy that would be impactful in alleviating the sufferings caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
We (the committee) came up with this campaign titled ‘Feeding the Vulnerable during COVID-19 Lockdown 2020’. Our initial idea was to provide foodstuffs, water, essential medications, and toiletries to the indigent people we see in the streets, under the bridges, and poor homes. Somehow, in the course of our discernment, we were inspired to think further. It occurred to us that the poor may not even have access to firewood or gas to cook any raw food supply.
Utilizing our contacts, we were able to facilitate the supply of bread from a local bakery along with cooked tin Sardine-fish, some pastries, and a bottle of water. Providentially, this bakery accepted to package this food (ICCC Food at Lockdown) and deliver them to our church premises – the Lagos Resource Center, Victoria Island Lagos – at no extra cost.
The next challenge was getting the food to the poor amidst the lockdown.
Moving the food from the church premises to various homes and different places during the lockdown was going to be a tall order. About this, I must confess, that indeed, “the Lord hears the cry of the poor” as there was divine intervention. The District Police Command in Victoria Island of Lagos agreed to partner with the Lagos Resource Center to deliver ICCC food to the street corners, under the bridges, and the poor homes of our target beneficiaries. The police command provides police escort and security for the delivery team to various places.
We are grateful to the Nigerian Police, the director of the Lagos Resource Center, all the wonderful donors, and above all, to the Jesuit Fathers and Brothers of ANW Province. We are eternally grateful to the Jesuits for their dedication, admirable leadership quality, humility, and spirit of charity.
With the aforementioned unique partnership – the police and the church providing security and logistic, this campaign, which we titled “Feeding the Vulnerable during COVID-19 Lockdown” was born. It took off by supplying food to 300 destitute in Lagos daily. Each pack of food containing a loaf of bread, tin-fish, Indomie instant noodles, bottled water provided two square meals for each poor person.
Members of ICCC and parish priests of neighboring churches provided contacts of poor people in their churches and neighborhoods for the supply. One of the parishes where the poor usually gathered every Tuesday for food is acting as our distribution center.
So far, we have run this campaign successfully for the past 2weeks. God helping us, we intend to extend it to several more days of the 4weeks of lockdown in Lagos.
The Social Outreach Program of ICCC is funded from (a) the second offertory collections done at Masses once a month and also from (b) individual member’s donations.
We are grateful for the generosity of the ICCC members towards any cause for the poor, the church’s needs, renovation, and empowerment of the young. God bless ICCC members.
We are amazed by the positive difference this campaign is making in the lives of the poor and the sick. We are already receiving goodwill messages from clergymen and the people of Nigeria. ICCC Social Outreach returns the praise to God, who has been most gracious to the chaplaincy – a church of about 60 families. We are humbled by how a pack of food goes towards feeding a family in need in Lagos.
Finally, we must reiterate that our work has just started. We intend to reach out to many more destitute homes, organizations, and people who need our help. For us, members of the ICCC, it is not just about giving money to the poor. It is about extending a hand of fellowship to the less privileged, spending quality time with them, and transforming their lives. For example, when we visit a Correctional Centre, we attended Mass with the inmates, listened to their stories, and encouraged them, an unparalleled experience. Listening to their stories enables us to advocate on their behalf.
We pray that the good Lord continues to be the wind under our sails and give us the favor and the mercy to continue to do his work. God bless the Jesuits of ANW.
Mrs. Bisola Giwa-Osagie
Coordinator, Social Outreach Ministry