Called to Witness Nigeria

Called to Witness in Nigeria, Day Two

In April, the 2008 Called to Witness group will travel to Nigeria to see Catholic Relief Services responding to poverty and fostering peace. Check back in the weeks ahead for postings to our travelogue, telling the story of our journey and pilgrimage to Nigeria. If you are interested in learning more about Called to Witness visit the Called to Witness homepage.

Our second entry in the travelogue is written by Matthew Robaszkiewicz, from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

Christina Lujan speaks with Sr. Jovita, HIV & AIDS Program Coordinator, about the outreach to local communities.Christina Lujan speaks with Sr. Jovita, HIV & AIDS Program Coordinator, about the outreach to local communities.

Being Fully Present

Our second day in Nigeria… Breakfast at the hotel in Abuja, the Valencia Hotel… Meeting with the Archdiocese of Abuja Youth Council at Holy Trinity Church… Four hours of travel by van to Jos and arrival at the City Lodge Hotel… Dinner at the New Beach Restaurant… CTW group meditation and reflection…

It is still somewhat overwhelming, the thought of actually being here in Nigeria – not knowing what to expect, exactly what we will be doing, or what we will experience in our time here. Try as I might, it is difficult to relinquish any preconceived notions of Africa. However, I am determined – as is the rest of the group – to begin each day with an open mind and heart and to simply live in the moment, being fully present to the people we meet and to the sights and experiences we encounter.

The most unforgettable and exciting part of the day was our travel from Abuja to Jos – a ‘cozy and intimate ride’ of four hours packed into a CRS van. This most certainly was an opportunity to bond at a whole new level with my fellow travelers! Watching the landscape and infrastructure transform before us – from a bustling and somewhat modern capitol city to the more sparsely populated rural towns and villages – was a realization that the experience of our first day was not a true picture of life in Nigeria. The adobe huts and abandoned structures, the roadside peddlers and shoeless children, roaming cattle and goats, and vast areas of arid land and lush foliage, were evidently the realities of a majority of the population. Yet, without fail, every person we encountered during our travel greeted our presence with a warm smile and a friendly wave – evidencing the fact that we were truly welcome!

Our brief roadside ‘stretch and bathroom break’ is a story for another reflection…

– Matthew Robaszkiewicz

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