SWITZERLAND, MAY 15 – To curb the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in the country, the Federal Government imposed a lockdown in Nigeria’s financial capital, Lagos and two other states, Abuja and Ogun. The lockdown which commenced at 11pm on Monday 30, March 2020 began a gradual easing down at 9am, on Saturday 2, May 2020, after a two-week extension. Thousands of daily wage earners were left without a source of income for five weeks.
In response to the plight of the indigent during the lockdown phase, the government and a number of well-meaning corporate bodies and individuals began large-scale distribution of palliatives across the affected states. However, many still found themselves facing hunger as the palliatives proved insufficient to meet the large number of people adversely affected.
The Elevation Church, through its social intervention arm, Pistis Foundation, launched a Food Bank and Medical Intervention on March 30, 2020, to positively impact the economically challenged demography affected by the instituted lockdown. The Food Bank aspect of the initiative commenced with the establishment of a dedicated call centre to process the thousands of requests it received. Thereafter, food packs such as 5kg rice, 5kg beans, 6kg Garri, 140g tomato puree and 1.5 litre vegetable oil, were delivered to selected beneficiaries through a partnership with God is Good (GIG) Logistics.
The items provided can conveniently serve a modest family size of four persons for a minimum period of –eight to ten days relieving them of fears and concerns about food for said duration. Attesting to this is one of the early beneficiaries, a middle-aged female who while receiving her food pack in tears, revealed her previous plans to sell her phone in order for her family to survive. The ample foodstuff given to her by the church not only prevented her from executing this plan but was sufficient to sustain them throughout the lockdown.
The Medical aspect of this relief project was executed in partnership with St. Kizito’s Clinic, Lekki, and Chion Hospital, Maryland, Lagos providing end-to-end medical care during the lockdown at no cost to the beneficiaries. One of such beneficiaries is Mrs. Bukola who safely delivered a baby boy during the lockdown at one of the partner hospitals. She was deeply appreciative of the medical intervention when many hospitals had come under much stress during the medical crisis. Both mother and child have since been discharged.
This systematic and organized methodology, as opposed to the normative mass food distribution outreaches, allowed for widescale impact with minimal risk exposure to both the beneficiaries and the Foundation. This preference for structure and distinctive organization has become synonymous with The Elevation Church. The church has repeatedly engineered programs that possess an exceptional quality, thorough professionalism and distinctive consistency rarely associated with activities organized by religious organizations.
According to Godman Akinlabi, lead pastor, The Elevation Church, “from our regular outreach programs, pre-Covid-19, we were aware that to be able to reach 6,000 families within a relatively short time frame safely, required the combined efforts of a number of partners and volunteers that believe in our driving ethos. I, therefore, use this occasion to appreciate our 172 volunteers, GIG Logistics, as well as our members who supported us in every form.
“In addition, we also recognize the crucial role played by St. Kizito’s Clinic, and Chion Hospital, as our medical partners who ensured that we provided a comprehensive intervention that transcended food to include health as well.”
Beneficiaries of the Food Bank and Medical initiative turned to social media to relay their appreciation for the efforts of the church. A male recipient on twitter narrated his experience applying for relief materials on behalf of a Muslim neighbor who was in dire need. On receipt of the food pack, the neighbor responded in appreciative prayers, surprisingly thanking Jesus Christ in the process.
Similarly, another twitter user remarked, “sincerely I don’t know how to say thank you. All I know is you have kept me safe… Quarantine here I come”.
Commenting on the outcome of the relief efforts, Leonard Thomas, General Manager, Pistis Foundation, noted, “we began with an initial goal to successfully cater to 2,000 households with food relief items, and provide 250 persons with primary healthcare intervention, however, upon launch, these targets were quickly exceeded.
“After achieving the milestone of reaching over 6000 families, the Food Bank and Medical Initiative has now come to an end” he added.
In a statement released by the church, Leonard mentioned that the Foundation will now primarily focus on making sustainable impact in the lives of the economically challenged and vulnerable persons in the society through strategic programs. These clearly outlined initiatives are focused on education, shelter and health. They include the provision of educational scholarships for under-served but talented children; sheltering and feeding street children; teacher training and development; working closely with the State Government and established healthcare institutions to plan and provide access to quality healthcare for vulnerable communities, through its annual one-week free medical and surgical outreach known as UBOMI; amongst others.