We recently received this update from Home to Enhance African Life (HEAL), which serves the spiritual, educational, material and legal needs of orphans and widows in Nigeria. President, Nick Costello, says:
As 2017 kicks off, we face a new and more serious threat to the Compassionate Home and the orphans to whom HEAL’s mission is dedicated. The Home is located in the rural village of Umuagwu on land legally purchased in 2004 by Leo Okonkwo and family for the purpose of educating the poor and marginalized people of the village.
Since HEAL was founded in 2014, the mission in Umuagwu has grown and attracted the attention of influential natives. On the plus side, in recognition of our work, the Nigerian government paved a road making our mission site accessible by car. On the downside, some wealthy interlopers with ill-intent are threatening to build on our property in a way that would seriously disrupt and compromise our mission. Sadly, normal legal recourse won’t help us due to police corruption.
Deacon Leo has consulted with the local “Eze” or “village king” and decided that a security fence encompassing the property would best counter these interlopers. It would reinforce our legal claim to the property with a impassible physical barrier. Alas, sometimes you need walls even as we hope and pray for more bridges! The proposed fence will be 3,515 feet x 3,515 feet and will protect HEAL’s 50 resident orphans living and learning on our property.
A local contractor has offered to construct the fence for $250,000, which includes all materials and labor. For a down payment of $100,000, he will complete the project and give us until the end of 2017 to pay the balance!
With respect to terminology and the nature of the barricade itself, we are NOT constructing a fence but a cinder block wall. It will be approximately 8 feet high and encompass an area of about 146,900 square meters of property in the village of Umuagwu. The property is legally owned by Deacon Leo Okonkwo and Water for Life Mission, the exclusive mission partner of HEAL in Nigeria. With some seed funding at our disposal, we have commenced the project.
You may also be wondering about the high cost of the project. That the wall will be made of cinder block and mortar, in addition to iron reinforcement materials, should answer part of that question. A mere chain link “fence”, of course, would cost far less than the figure I indicated. Secondly, there is the cost of clearing away trees and bushes to make way for the construction.
I also want to clarify the nature of the security risk that warrants such a financially expensive project. As I already explained, HEAL’s mission in Umuagwu, due to its increased notoriety and impact, has attracted both positive and negative attention. With respect to the interlopers seeking to build on our property, this wall project is our best defense. As Deacon Leo has said, “Justice in Nigeria is bought!” Demonstrating the ability to tangibly defend our own property rights will force otherwise corruptible elected officials and police to respect us.
Finally, the wall will also protect our students and resident orphans against kidnappings, which have been increasing in the area. Kidnappers go where the money is, and if one of our children or MOJ members were ever taken and held for ransom, it would be a huge blow to the mission. This security wall will virtually ensure that such an incident—by the grace of God—never happens.
We will be relying on organizational as well as individual sources for funding this project in full. Please be as generous as possible and help us keep the children safe and secure!
Learn more about the Home to Enhance African Life HERE.