Below is a diary report from Nne Enyemaka Shrine in Nigeria for which St Mary's Warrington is making an appeal this Lent. Fr van der Putten (author of the diary report) and Fr O'Brien are two FSSP priests serving the Nigerian shrine parish.
So far St Mary's has raised over £300 to help the construction of their new church. If you would like to make a donation, please use this sites 'donate' button, and add "Nigeria Lenten Appeal' in the box by clicking "Special instruction for the recipient" before the final confirmation of your donation.
02-09-2016 (Tuesday Feb 9th)
The 1st Saturday this month was Fr. O’Brien’s big extravaganza. The youth were all present for a day of games, skits, plays, food and camaraderie. It was wonderful. It was our “Fat Tuesday”. On Friday I went to Onitsha and blessed someones house and office. I also went to the market to buy hyd. oil filters for the cement mixer. No one had any but for $50.00 someone made me 2! It took 4 hours but during this time a swarm of young men came around and flashed up my truck. They tinted the windows put a fancy muffler piece on, fog lights were installed, striping was added, a few grommets were replaced, an antenna was put on though I am sure it already had one and then they all demanded money. In handing out the money I gave some to one who misled me. When the others found out there was a huge fight and the police came with shot gun and whip and began lashing them until it stopped. The young man was then taken away. It was a long day but I got what I went for. We still have not gotten any brewery waste grain and I have gone again to complain. I am told that this Saturday we will get some. We have made almost 5000 blocks now. The architect came on Thursday and we hope to have spec’s soon for the pillars. We hope to have the large cement mixer painted and reassembled next week ready to mix for the pillars. It seems we will need to buy another 800 bags of cement. Fr. O’Brien asked Paul to make apple pie so that is what we had for dinner tonight! It was fantastic! Paul has sold all the big chickens and has 250 small ones again. 100 of them are 4 weeks old and 100 4 days and 50 only 2 days old. The frames for the new chicken cages have been installed and tomorrow the larger chickens will be placed therein. The layer chickens have been fenced outside but still there are no eggs. The new cages are 2 x 12’ larger than the old ones so we will be able to raise 300 at a time. The old cages are going to be used for rabbits and we are now making boxes out of the bad wood used for the block maker. We will hang the rabbit cages above the pigs. I fear the heat but they seem able to survive even here. The garden will be fertilized again tomorrow and yesterday we planted zucchini squash. I hope it grows. We have had no luck with Western produce. The ground is very poor in nutrients. A young man who spends time here periodically while going to university burnt up my 30,000 naira water pump for he wanted to do his laundry with our machine and he flipped on the pump switch thinking it was for the washing machine. All the valves were closed so it simply fried. There is nothing one can do about it but to replace it as he has no money. One must have locks on every valve and switch but I simply can’t be bothered. 3 times now someone has turned off the valves for our borehole pump while it was running but thank God it still works.
02-10-2016 (Ash Wednesday):
Many people came for Mass and Ashes today. They have made 380 blocks today. There has been no Nepa for 2 days now so we had to run the gen for a couple of extra hours to get water. We pray for Nepa tonight so we have water tomorrow. Word has gone around that the White Priest does not charge for water and allows anyone to take so the villagers are coming in a steady stream. They must walk directly past the bore hole which the local parish installed several years ago from monies from the US but which no one but the priests get to benefit from. Tomorrow or next we are to get our rabbits. They tell me they are much easier and more lucrative to raise than chickens. I have sold a mother pig. But it is wiser to sell the small ones though I might not have the space for them.
Thursday I went to town in the car. I bought feed for the pigs, chickens and rabbits, wood for making cement blocks, pipes to feed the chickens out of ,payed a bill at the architect firm, bought sprinklers to wet the blocks for 3 days after they are molded and when I got home late in the afternoon I ran to the plumbing shop and bought the materials to run 100 meters of piping to the block machine from the storage tank so that we can hook up the pump and use 2 garden hoses with pressure to wet the blocks. The sprinkler idea isn't going to work as the sprinkler is plastic and just doesn't work very well. It was quite a long day. Today I had to pick up a small cart that I had built to move the blocks, buy fuel for the gen and the cement mixer, pay the electric bill, drive out to Charles Ike’s Parish (2 hours drive) to get a new copy of his Baptismal Certificate, mail it Fed Ex to the Seminary at a cost of 50.00 US Dollars! get father’s printer serviced and be back in time for the outdoor Stations of the Cross at 4.30pm. Again another very busy day. I saw the pigs had no water but the boy tells me they simply drank it all! Paul takes care of the chickens so I never have any worries there. One of the boys has been sent home so now there are only 4 in the school.
With constant encouragement the boys buried the water pipe to the construction site. 3 of the men built 200 blocks but when 6 work only 300 are made. Electricity has jumped in cost by 40% in one day! Nothing though has improved about it. We already were paying more per unit than in most US States. The Minister of the airforce is accused of stealing 2.1 billion dollars. This means that he would have stollen 455,000 US each day for the last 10 years! The leader of the Senate is under a 14 year prison threat for having perjured himself re his assets. The lawyers are saying that it wasn't perjury because one can lie about these things. This week it was discovered that though Fr has a 2 year Visa it is only ever good for 1 month at a time and he will face a $1000 US dollar fine before they will allow him to leave the country. My Visa expires in April of this year.
Today 400 blocks were made. The wood on which the blocks is placed while made is cracking so tomorrow afternoon after the Funeral Mass at 10.00am PeterMary and I will go into town to pick up more wood and get it cut to the proper size. A civil engineer came today and told us that his company cures blocks for 28 days by submersing them in water. We simply spray them with water for 4 days. On Saturday we were supposed to get grain but again it was unsuccessful. We are promised some on Wednesday.
Again no grain. After waiting 6 hours my man is told that his truck wont pass inspection. So tomorrow I have hired another truck but it will cost me double the price of the grain and it is less than 10 miles away. Sometimes one simply can’t beat the system. It seems that even the President of the country is having a very difficult time trusting anyone and has already fired several top figures. I am told that the dollar is now worth 350 naira. On Monday Chukwudi bought a 12kw stabilizer and hooked it up to the whole house. We ran the pump in the borehole and I fear that we fried it as it already had a stabilizer and thus the voltage was too much. We will pull it up tomorrow. It has lasted one year. Not bad for Africa though it is Italian make. We had a funeral yesterday and it took most of the day but then Paul PeterMary and I went into town to buy more wood for the block maker. The wood keeps splitting but the heavier wood is too heavy and it warps badly and is thus useless so we will simply continue to buy more wood and continue to replace it as it splits. I guess they throw them around a bit but it is not something that can be changed. There is very little that one can actually change here. They admire what I do and can do but that’s as far as it goes.
Today the boys and Fr helped me to remove the pump from the well. Thankfully we found that one of the pipes had cracked, most surely due to the locking of the valves without my knowledge. We tried to get the parts necessary to send it back down today but without any luck. Tomorrow, I finally relented and paid 15000 naira to have the spent grain collected and driven the 10 miles to the parish from the brewery. I spent only 10000 on the grain but still saved 15000 otherwise. The naira is plummeting and I am told that today it is at 380 to the dollar. The blocks should be finished in the next 4 weeks. Then we dig the holes and put in the columns. We want to purchase the steal for the roof now as prices are low but we yet need architectural drawings.
On Friday I spent 3 hours at the Federal road safety office. They had stopped Chukwudi in our car and he didn’t know where the safety triangle was so they ticketed him for 3000 naira which is more than a days pay. I went to protest but they were adamant. Their own truck though had no taillight and they didn’t wear their seat belts when driving back to the office. When I mentioned it to the officer his reply was that they did not have to follow the law but only to enforce it. It is continually surprising to me how this country functions when it is so obviously lawless. The naira is plunging and is over 400 to the dollar now. Friday afternoon was spent sending the bore hole pump back down the well. 2 of the pipes had burst so thank fully the pump was still good. On Saturday I took several of the boys and for a few hours we ‘swam’ in the lake. Most of them don’t know how to swim. Most of them are afraid of water and think that its the hiding place for the devil. We have divided the largest pig pen into 6 smaller stalls now in preparation for the littering which should take place soon. Today we had free from school in honor of St. Peter. I took the boys to Onitsha and we bought some tools for construction. We will use the garage as our new rabbit cage. The 10 rabbits are doing well and we now wait for them to give birth. The turkeys are laying eggs and also the chickens but only a very few. The cucumbers, watermelon, squash and tomatoes have all died. Part must be due to bad soil but also they boy supposed to water them twice each day has skipped a few mornings.
The cement mixer was finally painted today. It’s taken almost 3 months but then we are over 4000 years old so I guess that’s not bad time. We had to run the generator to get water this morning. The float valve/switch is not working again so it’s a constant concern to make sure the switch for the pump is on when we have Nepa. There were some problems with the cement mixer and block maker so work didn't start until 10.15am. Tomorrow there will be no work as the sand they brought today was unacceptable. The pigpen has been divided into 6 so today a young man was stuccoing it.
There has been no sand this week. A grease zerk has fallen out of the cement mixer and it is not to be found in this State. Fr. and I will go to Onitsha on Monday to buy one. The generator has locked up due to the boys not checking the oil. The diesel generator needed a new fuel filter. Again we are without water. I installed plumbing for the piggery so now only need the gates for the stalls. We are getting 5 eggs each day now, 2 turkeys are laying eggs as well and Paul will bring a dozen in on Monday to get them incubated. Tomorrow we hope to have a wall built in the garage for the rabbits.
Yesterday Fr went to the annual cathedraticum where all the parishes of the Region come together and give yams, rice, and money to the bishop as a sign of good will support. I went with a couple of the boys to Mariaken to try to fix the old block maker. We had some success but it is a big job so we will have to finish it at some other time. We now have 8700 blocks. Sand is always difficult to find and so we worked only 3 days last week. The architectural firm that we are working with here is a joke for they follow the standard that if it works it is ok. So, it is difficult to get a ‘standard’ answer from them as things are very different in the African context. If they learned any standards it was simply a speculative exercise. We had a young man stay with us over the weekend. He is finishing his 4 year philosophy studies at a Catholic university and tells us that there is no objective Truth and that the Pentateuch is simply a telling of morality stories. Our generator is still at the mechanic so we use the diesel one for the house as well as construction. It is much quieter as it is fully enclosed but now I smell the exhaust as it is not too far from my window.