Nigeria has an overwhelming population of over 170 million people. The megacity of Lagos is expected to have a population of 24 million by 2030. Many factors have led to Nigeria having almost 11 million orphaned children.
Hostile divisions exist between the predominantly Christian south and Muslim north where Islamic law has been imposed in several states; thousands of people have died in communal attacks. Violence towards women is a serious crisis. 25% of women and 17% of girls have been victims of Female Genital Mutilation.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, yet over 100 million people are living on less than a dollar a day. The poorest people have little access to basic services such as education, health care and power. Investment in education has remained low, leaving Nigeria with a failing education system. 220,000 primary school teachers are needed to adequately educate all school aged children. Only 25% of children from the poorest families go to primary school.
Efforts to reduce child marriage are projected to have no impact in offsetting the population growth, and in 2050, 56% of women will still be married before age 18. 29% of adolescent girls give birth by age 18. Unemployment has forced many women into the sex trade where 25% of female sex workers are HIV positive. Only 15% of all women in Nigeria use contraception.
A horrific separation exists between the rich and poor, reflected in a class system accepted by many. In Lagos, desperately poor children live in overcrowded slums without water or sewage systems, literally living in the cracks between mansions. Only 6% of the poorest women in Nigeria have a skilled attendant during birth compared to 85% of the richest women. The local church often encourages seeking personal prosperity above serving those in need. The local Christian volunteers who have come forward to serve the communities supported by Hands at Work are breaking new ground. Together they are seeking out the most vulnerable children, and giving their lives to loving those who many disregard.
We envision the local church in Africa effectively caring for the dying, orphans, and widows and unified in this mission with the church outside Africa.
Orphaned children (age 0-17): 10,800,000
Children orphaned by HIV/AIDS: 2,000,000
Under 5 mortality rating (per 1000 live births): Female – 111 | Male - 124
Secondary School Attendance:
Female – 45% | Male – 53%
People living with HIV: 3,200,000
Life expectancy at birth: Female - 53 | Male – 52
Lifetime risk of maternal death: 1 in 31
population below the international
poverty line: 68%
Country rating (out of 187) on the Human Development Index: 152
– Sources: UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNDESA 2014, UNICEF 2014
Michael* is a 13-year-old boy who was found by Care Workers in Apatuku Community. As they knocked on the door of his home, it seemed, at first, deserted, but they heard a small voice croak from inside the home. As the Care Workers entered the house, they found Michael all alone and in a desperate situation.
Care Workers are the key in bringing healing and transformation to the lives of our children. They are men and women from the local churches within our communities who recognize their Biblical mandate and answer their call to care for the most vulnerable children. They demonstrate what it means to give freely, love unconditionally, and sacrifice everything. Often, Care Workers face their own traumas and live in dire poverty, just as the children they care for do, but their determination to persevere and care despite their own circumstances challenges everyone they come into contact with. They are greatest in the Kingdom of God!
Tanisha* has been living in Apatuku, a rural village outside the bustling city of Ibadan, for four years. Sent by her mother at the age of six to live with her grandmother, this move shifted Tanisha into a very vulnerable position, just like thousands of other girls across Nigeria. Her ailing grandmother cared for the young girl and appreciated her help as she was struggling to cook, clean, and do errands alone, but unfortunately was unable to send her to school. Together, they live in a small rented room, sharing a bed and the meager belongings the grandmother had collected. Tanisha, obedient and caring, worked hard to ensure she cared for her grandmother well, but inside she was deeply troubled. Tanisha desperately missed her mother and wanted nothing more than to go to school.
Ama is a 10-year-old girl from the community of Ilaje, Nigeria. When she was young her father passed away, leaving her in the care of her paralysed mother, Esther. At a very young age Ama was forced to become the breadwinner in order for her family to survive. As a result, Ama has not had the opportunity to be a child.
Perhaps being forced to drop out of school because your family simply cannot afford the fees anymore is just as heart breaking as not being able to go to school. When Lovelyn came home from school one day and realized she would not return, she felt lost and hopeless. Now, she faced the terrible prospect that her education was over.
10-year-old Michael is a vulnerable child living in the Lagos slum of Ago Okota. In 2010 when his mother could no longer afford to feed and keep him, Michael was given away to another poor family. His job was to work for the family, walking the streets selling rice and beans and passing the income over to his new guardians. He dreamed about attending school, but wasn’t allowed. He had joined the tragic situation of thousands of children walking the streets of Lagos: modern-day slavery.