Bridging Civil-Military Gap

Bridging Civil-Military Gap

In 2018 I was nominated by the Nigerian Air Force for a peacekeeping mission under the auspices of the United Nations Organization Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I remember my second son was not even a year old. Duty called and I had to answer, Thankfully my mother was around to fill-in for me and take care of the boys while I was away.

In Congo, my primary duties involved gathering security intelligence and presenting reports, duties that involved engagement with the locals and on a regular basic. Each time we would go on patrol, I noticed that a good number of women and children in the communities we visited were idle. Most of the time, they would solicit alms from members of the mission.

I found this situation troubling. These women were able-bodied and able to communicate enough. It made little sense that they had no apparent vocation. Like many of my colleagues, I did give out as much money as I could but I knew this was not sustainable. There had to be a better way to support these women and children.

I made a decision to fix the cycle. With the help of the mission translators, I was able to have meetings with the women in the communities we visited. I explained to them that their dependence on alms was not a viable way to survive. Many of them complained of the lack of options, citing the negligence they suffered from the government and the absence of decent opportunities to earn a living.

So, I decided the best way to help the women was to teach them skills that could translate to business opportunities. I spent countless hours on YouTube leaning how to bake cakes, make soap and other soft-skills. I then organized skills workshops and personally taught women these skills. At the end of the workshops, I offered each participant a small grant to start their own business.

Prior to the workshops, many of the women had to travel long distances to but the bare necessities. With the new skills they acquired, at least some items got crossed off their lists and they were able to turn their seed-funding to products they could sell and earn money from.

I did face some resistance among the women. Some suggested that their culture required men to work and earn for the families while women were expected to stay home and take care of the home-front. But considering the poor living conditions and the inability of many men in rural Congo to make ends meet, it only seemed wise that women support their spouses as best as they can to reduce the burden.

In addition, I also committed resources to the renovation of IDP camps and made donations to a local church, acts which caught the eye of the United Nations Mission and eventually earned me a commendation.

For me, none of these acts were self-serving. I have always believed that privilege is a blessing that needs to be shared. No matter how much or how little you have, there will always be someone with less or nothing at all. Find ways to share because even a little can go a long way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *