‘God has sent them first to you to meet Christ’
Sister Nwanneka Uduh is one of the pioneers of our mission in Shogunle, Nigeria, which opened in early September 2015. The new MMM community was quick to notice an area in which they might ‘foster true human development’ among the young people they met. Nwanneka described how they reached out to students in local secondary schools.
‘Shogunle community is one of the most densely populated areas in Lagos. Most of the residents are poor. Many young people engage in drug abuse and petty crime. We investigated starting what we call ‘school health clubs’ to encourage students to take charge of their own health and then influence their peers and families.
‘We approached the Lagos State Ministry of Health in November 2015 and obtained permission in January 2016. We began in four schools, three government-owned and one private. We are especially interested in reaching young men and women from public schools, where information about life skills is limited. A few teachers struggle to cope with large student numbers.
‘When we visited the school principals to make arrangements they were excited with the idea, promising us their full support. Each principal chose a convenient date and assigned a teacher to work with us. Each session lasts an hour.
‘While we initially requested a limit of thirty students, because of the students’ enthusiasm we have up to thirty-seven students in each school. From January till July we visited the schools twelve times. We respect the school calendar and do not visit during examinations and special events.
‘We have discussed topics such as growing up responsibly, nutrition and diet, sickle cell disease, drug abuse, Lassa fever, personal and environmental hygiene, and sexual abuse. Before each session the students are asked to recap what they learned from the previous session.’
Nurturing the seed
‘Mary is in Senior Secondary One in Ikeja Senior Grammar School. We met her the day we formed the club in her school. She is energetic and the other members elected her club captain. Every fourth Wednesday, Mary reminds the other members to come for the session and helps to get the hall ready.
‘One Sunday, Mary and her mother came to greet Sister Vivian and me. Her mother was very grateful for what we are doing with the young people. She said Mary is now more careful in handling food at home. Mary especially talked about what we covered during the time of a Lassa fever outbreak. We were surprised because we had only visited her school twice.
‘The principal of Onilekere Junior Secondary School said he wants us to continue because the topics we are discussing are helping to educate for life.
‘From MMM’s beginnings we have had a special concern for family life. In helping to develop healthy and positive-minded young people we are contributing to the wellbeing of families and of society. We are grateful to the Lagos State Ministry of Education District VI for allowing us to work with students and to the principals of the school for creating enabling environments for this project.’