Providing Relief for Nigerian IDPs

Recently, we partnered with our Jubilee Campaign Netherlands branch and an organization based in Nigeria, Stefanos Foundation, to provide relief packages to 135 households in camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kugwaru village, Nigeria.

Through funding from our organization, relief workers bought food such as rice, beans, sugar, milk, and biscuits, as well as non-food supplies such as soap and put the supplies in 230 sealed plastic buckets for distribution to IDPs. The buckets were allotted based on family size and provided for households that held anywhere between 1 and 18 family members. The supplies were distributed between the 14th and 17th of July. The beneficiaries were families who were primarily Christian from various church congregations that had been affected by the terrorism of Boko Haram.

Over 700,000 people were internally displaced in Nigeria last year due to conflict and violence. Nigeria holds two of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world: Boko Haram and the Fulani Militants. These groups and other militant groups have terrorized many in Nigeria. These people who are forced to leave their homes commonly go to IDP camps hoping to find some relief. Unfortunately, with the large IDP population, there is oftentimes not enough food and other basic supplies to take care of everyone. Because of the inability for many to get basic necessities, people are dying every day in these camps. It is a desperate situation for many as they look for any means possible to keep their families alive and well.

The following are testimonies of some of the recipients of the relief packages:

Rachael Shawulu

Rachael Shawulu

“I am 12 years old. We have been here with my parents since 2013. We are five children in the family. I am in class 2 in the primary school here. My family was able to receive its share of the items brought and we just want to say, thank you.”

Daniel Barka

Barka Daniel

“My name is Daniel Barka, 27 years old, married with three children. I have been here since 2014, I had to hire a piece of land to farm. I am thankful to God for keeping us alive. I hope to go back to my village soon. Here in the community, our major problem has been the issue of health and finances to barter for some basic needs. My wife is currently not feeling fine and I don’t have the money to enroll my children in school.”

Aisha Emmanuel

Aisha Emmanuel

“I am a widow, I have 5 children and life has not been easy, but we thank God for those who are helping us. I got a free farmland to farm and help my family. I just want to say thanks to those who brought about the distribution of these items to us. Thanks for the love”

We would like to thank our donors for their ongoing support of Jubilee Campaign! We love to report on the fruit that comes from the generosity of our supporters. Your support helps us meet the needs of people around the world and continue to take part in the Lord’s work!

Please continue to pray for Nigeria and its IDPs:

    Pray that God will open doors for IDPs so that they may be economically able to take care of the needs in their families.
    Pray that the Nigerian government will be swift in clearing every security threat in the areas grossly affected by activities of terrorists and come up with a robust reintegration plan for the IDPs to return home.
    Pray also that every trauma being experienced by IDPs will be healed and that God will encouraged their hearts.

Below are more pictures from the relief project.

Relief bucketscarrying buckets crowd distribution

World Humanitarian Day: End Sex Trafficking in India

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”
Deuteronomy 15:11

ce4b4199-11d8-4631-b814-39a70a821ed9

Today is World Humanitarian Day! Each year, people from around the world use this day as a time to recognize hardworking humanitarian aid workers and remind ourselves and others of the need to persevere in the fight for humanity.

In recognition of this year’s World Humanitarian Day, Jubilee Campaign would like to focus on the efforts being made to end sex trafficking in India. India has the largest number of individuals in human trafficking globally. There are an estimated 14 million people living in India who are suffering as slaves in the sex trafficking industry, and this number continues to grow. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the number of registered human trafficking cases has increased by 38.3% over the past five years.

Although sexual trafficking has been present in India for years and years, the trafficking of children is a relatively new development. Alarmingly, there are already an estimated 135,000 children forced into the trafficking industry each year. Often times these children are kidnapped from India’s remote tribal areas and thrown into urban districts where sex trafficking is most prevalent. Children, even more so than adults, simply do not have the resources or the power to remove themselves from such situations and thus continue to toil as modern day slaves.

Jubilee Campaign holds the mission statement of serving as a vital voice for those who suffer in silence such as those being trafficked in India. Thus, over 10 years ago Jubilee Campaign helped construct homes near Mumbai–a popular red light district in India. These homes were built in an effort to rescue children from forced prostitution and slavery. Jubilee Campaign continues to financially support Jubilee Home IV, a home for rescued boys and girls who are affected by HIV/AIDS.

So today we hope that you will take a moment to consider how you can participate in World Humanitarian Day and help trafficked victims in India. Jubilee Campaign will continue to support the youth that are cared for and given a new life of hope and joy in the Jubilee homes, and we hope that the support network for these children will continue to grow.

If you wish to financially support the children who are trafficked in India, a great option would be through the purchase of jewelry pieces made by rescued former sex slaves. Rescued women craft jewelry and leather goods to sell in order to help their children and themselves to recover. We sell these handmade goods as a way to help these women and take part in stopping the cycle of the sex trade. 100% of your donations go directly to the work of our partner, Bombay Teen Challenge, to improve the lives of these women and children. To donate or buy one of these beautifully crafted goods go to www.jubileecampaign.com.

SEND YOUR LETTER TO HELP: Personal Updates of Iranian Prisoners

As you may know from previous updates we’ve given, Iran is a country that regularly detains Christians for acting out their faith. At Jubilee Campaign, we’ve recently received many reports on the status of various Christian prisoners.

Firstly, we’d like to praise God for the release of the following prisoners:

Yasser Mossayebzadeh
Saheb Fadaie
Mohammad Reza Omidi
Amin Khaki
Leila Abdi Nejad.

Secondly, these brothers need your help. At the end of June, three Christian Azerbaijani men were arrested. Their families are desperate for their release and gave this appeal, “On 22nd June 2016 our husbands and fathers – Eldar Gurbanov, Yusif Farhadov and Bahram Nasibov – travelled to Tehran in the Islamic Republic of Iran.They were invited as guests in Iran to participate in an engagement ceremony and meet with their Iranian friends. As we discovered later, they were arrested on 24th June by security agents during an engagement ceremony and they have not been charged with any crime. Eldar (48), Yusif (51) and Bahram (37) are all married and have children. Yusif has a young son with Down’s Syndrome under his care. They have not been charged with any crime and their future is unknown to all of us. We ask all who are concerned to help our husbands and fathers to return safely to their homes!” Attached is a letter that the families have requested be sent to Iranian authorities demanding these men’s release. The more people who send these letters, the more pressure the Iranian government will feel to release these prisoners! Access the letter and suggested mailing addresses here.

Maryam Naghash Zargaran is a prisoner who was arrested for “acting against national security” through her Christian activities. She has serious health issues that require medical attention but while in prison she has not been given the adequate treatment that she needs. She’s gone on multiple hunger strikes to call for better treatment. However, her hunger strikes have been detrimental to her health, and family and friends are relieved to report that she has stopped her most recent hunger strike, in which she was demanding her immediate release.

Ebrahim Firoozi, who has been detained since 2013, was summoned for an appeal hearing. He refused to go on the notion that he thought it was sufficient for just his lawyer to attend. He was consequently apprehended, beaten and forced into court. Once he got there, his appeal was postponed to November because one of the judges was absent.

Youcef Nadarkhani, once given a death sentence for his conversion from Islam to Christianity, has now been charged with acting against national security. Our latest update is that he was released with the condition that he raise 100 million Touman bail (US$ 33,000) within a week, or face re-arrest. Friends posted this bond by deeding their homes.

Hossein Barounzadeh, Mohammad Bahrami and Rahman Bahmani were originally arrested in 2014 along with Amin Khaki, who was recently released. They were not released with Khaki and have four months remaining in their prison sentence.

Please keep all of these prisoners in your prayers as they desperately need the strength of God. Through their imprisonment, may God be glorified, and though humans seek to bind them, may they rest in the true freedom they have in Christ.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Read the Moving Testimony of an Eritrean Refugee

Last month, Jubilee Campaign accredited a team of individuals to participate at a side-event at the 32nd UN Human Rights Council Session, organized by Human Rights Concern-Eritrea and Christian Solidarity Worldwide. The event was co-sponsored by Article 19, DefendDefenders, and International Fellowship for Reconciliation. Those who have escaped Eritrea shared their experiences and stories. The following testimony was given by Hanna Petros Solomon:

“Dear Ladies and Gentlemen……..

My name is Hanna Petros Solomon and I came here today to share my experiences with you all. An experience that many Eritreans can relate to.

Very recently I had a trying time in my life. No, I didn’t have to dodge bullets to cross another border, I had to write my transfer essay to university. In order to understand who you are as a person, universities ask you to describe the journey that brought you to them. I wrote what I thought was an excellent essay about why I came to America, and handed it to my professor who was helping me with the process. He told me that the essay spoke more about my country and the state of dictatorship than it did my own experiences, it had to be personal. In an effort to apply his advice, I changed every “we” pronoun to “I”, and suddenly the words on paper became too personal, painful even. As I share some of it with you today, without any of my usual comic relief, I hope, at the very least, that you will recognize my life’s story for what it is; not “a laughable claim” but a tragic injustice.

At a very young age my siblings and I were stripped of our parents. My father, Petros Solomon, was Chief Strategist and Head of Military Intelligence before Eritrean independence in 1991. After the independence, he served as Minister of Defense, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Minister of Maritime Resources. A man revered, adored and respected by all. Petros Solomon was a charismatic, playful person with extraordinary skills of making friends and principle not afraid to take on the responsibility of being a leader in achieving the vision we all had of Eritrea. When he noticed that Eritrea’s president, Isaias Afeworki, was slowly turning the government into an autocracy, he voiced his concern with many others who fought to see freedom in Eritrea.

On September 18, 2001 my father along with other ministers, government officials, journalists and other concerned Eritreans who had shared his objections were apprehended in their own homes by government officers. These men who, like my father, ha fought for their country and strived to bring a better and prosperous future were sent to unknown prisons and held incommunicado for over 15 years, and counting.

My mother, Aster Yohannes, also a freedom fighter, was a devoted wife and loving mother. She was pursuing her education in the United States at the time, dropped everything to be with her family. She was promised safe entry by the former Eritrean Ambassador to the United States, Girma Asmerom. But, she was betrayed. On the day of her arrival, on December 11, 2003, as we were waiting to welcome out mother with flowers, she was kidnapped by government officials. It has not been 13 years now and I have not seen or heard from my mother, nor do I know about her well being.

My siblings and I have worn the orphan badge ever since that fateful day. Although that is not a completely holistic picture of what we go through. Orphans know where their parents stand, it’s in the system, in traceable paper. Our entire lives we have had to grow up with the crippling reality that IF our parent were alive they were most likely chained up in some hole, being tortured, starved, or even driven to madness.

The thing about being the child of a patriot, is that the question “What for?” is embedded in you at the depth that is unfathomable for a child of 2, 10, or 11 to deal with (respectively my youngest sister’s age when she last saw our mother and myself and my brother’s age when we last saw our father). “What for?” “What did my parents fight for?” “What did thousands of Eritreans fight and die for, for over 30 years?”…”What for?”

In June of 2009, my siblings and I, decided to flee Eritrea. Well aware of the dangers that were awaiting us, we agreed that this mad leap of faith was our only chance to escape the make shift enslavement that would await us if we stayed. Unfortunately for us, we were caught, and as popular practice dictated, we were sent to prison. The two years that I would spend in the depths of the countryside, moving from prison to prison, and farm to farm doing hard labour, have proven to my the hardest of my life.

From June till September of 2009, I was help prisoner in Naval Base. A prison ground in Massawa known for its steel shipping container prison cells. My first hand insight to the atrocities of my country began here, when I heard the dying screams of a man who was suffocating inside one of the containers, on a day above 40 degrees Celsius. It was there that I also spent time with people who had lost a lot more that I had on their way to freedom. In jail with me, was a one-year-old little girl named Nadia. Nadia had lost a sister. The desert and the miserable conditions of prison proved to be too harsh of an environment for Nadia’s pregnant mother who lost the life of her unborn child.

From September 2009 until December of 2009, I was detained at Ghedem, a desert camp prison with more inmates then there was food. From December 2009 until March 2010 I was moved to bigger prison: Miitir. In addition to almost a thousand inmates, this was where I met people who had actually been incarcerated because of their faith.

In every prison we were physically pushed to our limits. The men were subject to hours of hard labor under the sun that included tasks such digging holes, 2m wide, 2m long and 2m deep. Holes that I later learned would be used as underground cells.

In every prison, I was shocked by the rate that diseases spread. The lack of medical treatment meant that diarrhea could be and was a cause of death.

The Eritrean regime mandates that all of its citizens go through military training. Instead of heading directly to Sawa, we were sent to farms like Af Himbol, Molober, and Mogoraib, along with whichever farm owned by Military Generals we happened upon, to work the fields. There, we planted, weeded and collected tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Our guards made sure to maximize on our free labor, they would provide the labor, and in exchange the generals would reward them for their efforts. We were being constantly beaten for not working hard or fast enough. In many of the prisons and farms, I was detained, we never had shelter. We slept on the ground out in the open being subject to rain, sand storms, sweltering temperatures, and fending off hyenas in the night. The next morning, we were back in the fields with wet clothes, empty stomachs, and no sleep.

Furthermore, the guards used food or breaks from work as bait for sexual favours. I was disgusted by the crass nature of their approach, especially their willingness to take advantage of these women at their vulnerable time. Some of my fellow detainees fell victims to despair. While others, like myself, who refused, were targeted and physically punished.

When I had served my unjust time, and finished my “training” I was finally assigned to a post in Tesenei, only to be reassigned to another training. When I got there, it became clear to me that the equality women earned beside their brothers out in the field, during the thirty-year war, was long gone. Every woman in the training was assigned to cleaning and cooking for the entire division or higher rank persons. I begged and pleaded for my division leader to let me go back to Asmara, informing him that it had been two years since I had seen my family. Miraculously he agreed, sending me off with a belligerent threat, convinced that my spirit had been broken, when in reality everything that I had been through only sealed my conviction to leave the country and find my freedom. On the morrow of my father’s 60th birthday, May 6, 2011, I left Eritrea for good.

Isaias Afeworki’s regime has been using media as a way to control its people since the day of its implementation. In Eritrea I was exposed to very little of the outside world, but was constantly bombarded by pro-government propaganda. Because I feared for my life, I did not speak out against them. Today I am appreciative of the fact that I get to address this, feeble attempt at saving face, in a manner that it deserves. Recently, on June 8th, 2016 in Geneva, the President Advisor, Mr. Yemane Gebreab, stated that Eritrea is a country that provides government housing and employment to the spouses of imprisoned officials. I stand here today as an example of this untruth. My family has never received help from the government. The only government my mother, who is undoubtedly the spouse of an imprisoned official, has been utilizing is the prison cell she has lived in for the past 13 years . And the only employment the government has provided her is staying sane, and alive while she stares at her cell walls.

For a man who yesterday, here at the Human Rights Council, in Geneva, claimed to know me and my parents, to be my neighbor and my father’s close friend has sure done nothing but bring sorrow and turmoil to my family. What does that say of him as a person? What does that say of the people in power who, like Mr. Yemane Ghebreab, claim to have shared bread with my father, and yet throw him and his wife to rot in jail?

So I ask again- “what for?” For me, it seems that more so than anything my parents fought for their legacy. My mother’s devotion to her family, my father’s unbending loyalty to his country and their resilience to see things through, is what my siblings and I see when we think of Petros Solomon, Aster Yohannes and all Eritreans who languished in prison before and after them. But it doesn’t have to end there.

Every Eritrean has been scarred by the self-proclaimed president Isaias Afewerki, and all I am asking of you today is to bear witness to these scars, and do what is just, look through the facade and grant freedom, justice to the Eritrean people. Give the people a chance to have a say in the process of how our Nation is built. A chance to show their heroes the Eritrea they gave their lives for.

Thank you all, for your courage, your endeavors and for all that you do. Stand strong.”

URGENT: Christians Under Threat in Nepal

nepal photo
The freedom of religion in Nepal is under threat since the adoption of the new constitution in September 2015. Even though it affirms that Nepal is a secular state, it concurrently prohibits evangelization. Article 26 makes any act illegal and punishable by law “to convert another person from one religion to another or any act or behavior to undermine or jeopardize the religion of another.”

Since then seven people have been arrested in Nepal due to their evangelization activities amongst school children in the Dolakha district and one in a separate incident. According to missionary Bram Krol, who is currently in Nepal, Christians are increasingly being limited in their freedom.

According to Krol, last week all leaders of Christian orphanages and boarding schools in Kathmandu were assembled where the government announced that even as much as one Christian booklet found in their institution would amount to a huge fine, closing down of their institution and confiscation of their possessions. It is also prohibited to pray with the children or to let them attend a bible club.

Another Christian Nepalese contact, who we want to remain anonymous, has informed us that the Social Welfare Council, through which all foreign aid to conduct programs needs to be approved, has now completely ceased to grant approval for Christian activities. He also stated that acts of Hindu extremism against Christianity are increasing daily.

The most plausible reason for this anti-Christian policy is that the already fragile Nepali government wishes to create goodwill amongst its Hindu majority. Until 2008, Nepal was the only official Hindu state in the world. The Nepali government is currently constructing Hindu temples and there are plans to build an enormous Buddhist statue in Damak (in Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism are closely connected). Subsequently, Nepal is to a large extent influenced by India, where the majority is Hindu. India already has anti-conversion laws in place in some regions, which means that clergy will have to obtain permission from the government to convert someone. Under certain circumstances it is even criminalized to conduct conversion or baptism. There is a legitimate fear in Nepal that this practice will spread and affect the Christian community largely.

The legal bases for halting Christian activities are based on article 26 of the constitution and number 1,512 of the Country Code under the Section on Decency. It states that no one shall propagate any religion in such manner as to undermine the religion of another nor shall cause others to change his or her religion. If a person attempts to conduct such an act, the person shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of three years. If a person has already caused the conversion of a person, the person shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of six years, and if such person is a foreign national, he or she shall also be deported from Nepal after the service of punishment by him or her.

Our Christian contact from Nepal stated that he considers filing a petition at the Supreme Court. He is however hesitant since all Supreme Court members are Hindu and a verdict in favor of religious freedom is not expected.

Call to Action
From sources in Nepal we have recently heard that the Nepalese government has dissolved. It is yet uncertain when a new government will be instituted and what the policy of a new administration will be towards Christians. Jubilee Campaign calls out to the prospective government to allow the full exercise of the right to religious freedom. All impediments of the free expression of religion should be removed. According to the by Nepal ratified ICCPR, everyone shall have the right to adopt a religion of his or her choice and will have the freedom in public or in private to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.