No car or land. All I have are Boko Haram orphans – Mrs. Binta Farouk

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Founder of Tabitha Evangelism Ministry, Mrs. Binta Farouk, spoke with Sunday Oguntola on a rehabilitation home she runs for insurgency victims and orphans somewhere in Jos. Excerpts:
How did you start really?
The home started when I visited Maiduguri during that great challenge of Borno State when insurgency was so hot. I felt how can we abandon our brothers? People were afraid to go there but I decided to do something extraordinary.
I gathered clothes from people and my immediate younger brother gave me money to buy a car. I said how can I buy a car when others are dying without food? So I decided to buy food with the money he gave me. This was over N2million he gave me. I bought food items and other people gathered clothes. We hired a vehicle and left for Borno.
What year was that?
That was 2014. When I got to Borno and I saw people suffering, we went to places like Shafa, Lede, Marama and about 14 villages. The second time, we went to seven villages. So when we got to that place, I saw the orphans.
Most at times, the relief materials people send never get to them. In the camps, only those children who have parents get the relief materials. The orphans have nobody to claim anything for them. So when I got there the second time, I shared the relief materials myself. We shared it so that the orphans would get and that was not enough.
Many of them were abandoned with no school, no nothing. I told myself what would I do to help theses ones? I realised the best option was to bring them down and send them to school. So, I had to open an urgent school for them.
In Maiduguri?
No, in Jos
You brought them to Jos?
Yes
How did you transport them?
We looked and paid for their transportation so that we would bring them down.
So the home was already in existence?
Yes, I had that home but it was for a different mission.
What mission was it for?
I was rehabilitating converts. I trained disciples to go out to minister but when I saw that challenge, I said I had to construct an emergency school.
It took us some large sum to construct that emergency school but it was God. Some people had to supply us wood on credit until I got the money to pay them. So I had to do that because the ones in secondary school were going out of school then.
The kids are from Borno, Yobe, Kano, Kaduna and Plateau. They are the victims of insurgency and herdsmen attacks. Most of their parents were killed during the crisis.
So we decided to open a school. Now, we have students up to SSS1 and they are increasing.  We have to stop others from joining because they are increasing and I really cry because they have to go to school without uniforms.
I have to look for money for food and medical care. What do I do?  I have written Plateau Governor without any response. I don’t know if the letter got to him because somebody told me that the governor has a passionate heart for something like this but I have not heard from him.
We have been looking up to God alone. I have cried to churches. If government would not do something, we as individuals and Christians, we need to come out and help these children to become better people in Nigeria.
We used to have over 900 children but they have reduced because there is no food. About 70 of them sleep in one room and it is not healthy.
How many rooms do you have?
We have about nine hostels now but some are just three bedroom flats. We share it for them so that they can be able to have places and we have eight classes.
The primary section goes to school in the morning and close by 12 pm. Then the secondary school takes over from 12:30 – 5:30 pm. That is what we have been doing for now.
What were you doing before you started running the home?
I was into evangelism.
Tell us a bit about yourself and background.
I am from Taraba State. I got converted some years back and I still have passion out of the conversion for soul winning. Since then I have been going out to win souls until this issue of home came because I really have burden for souls.
When you have the souls where do you keep them? I want to disciple most of them to have a sound background and I have been doing that until the issue of orphans came and I took over.
So how have you been able to run the home?
Honestly, I don’t know. It is only God that is doing what He is doing on a daily basis. We see food and if you ask me, I don’t know where the food is coming from. Individuals would bring some.
I have principles really. I don’t want to be shouting before people do something. Let them come and see. When you see, you will know what to do. If I tell you many have said a lot of things and they are not doing it.
So I prefer people to go there and see what I am doing, they would know where to come in. Honestly, the meal is not sufficient for the children because we are cooking two bags of rice but how many of them will eat but just a little quantity.
Two bags of rice per day?
Per meal and it would not be enough for them and now we have to cut down to one and half bag because we have decided to send some kids away. Yet, it’s just a little ration we can give them and we have gone from three to two meals daily.
It’s only the little kids that we give three meals for growth. Those from 12 years upward, it’s two meals daily.
How has it been with the children? How does it feel when you see them?
Most of them believe I am the only mother they have. I am the only relation and grandma they have. I am popularly called grandma. When I am among them, you will see them shouting. They will lift me up and I am always happy to see them.
I tell God to help me bring them up and give them a future that God will use them and use me because I see potentials in many of them. I have always told them that among them are governors, presidents and ambassadors.
One day I was sitting and they made me weep that day. About 20 of them came to me and said ‘grandma, one day you will be sitting where you are sitting and you will hear sirens coming in one after the other’.
I said from where? They said ‘from us now.’ They said ‘like you said we have seen ourselves as governors, presidents, ministers. One day we would come for Christmas with our sirens’ and I wept.
I say God keep this children and let them fulfill their destinies. That has been my prayer because I see them the way I see my biological children; there is no difference. I believe they are the ones I will present before God.
If I train them and they know the Lord, they are the only ones I can give God. They took first position in the national competition of child evangelism 2016 recitation and bible quiz. We took first in the nation and I was so happy.
Are churches supporting you enough or is that they don’t know what you are doing?
I don’t know because there are some that I have applied to and I shared with them. There are some that have not heard and I can’t blame them. When I talked sometimes, some will say ‘we don’t know about what you are doing. We have not even heard about it.’
Even if there is an element of doubt, go and see. When you see, you will not be told. It may be because they have not seen anyway. God is the one helping us.
Is this lack of support making you frustrated sometimes and wondering if God is in the project?
Yes, especially when I have no meal for the children and the next meal is not there for them, I will start crying oh God ‘am I doing the right thing? Is it from you?
You said any work that is given by God there is no suffering in it. Why must I be suffering to feed these children? Why must I struggle? I know that I am doing it with the whole of my heart. I have sold all my lands and don’t have one land on my own in this life.
The cars that people gave me, I have sold to make sure these children go to school and they would eat. We have three of them in US now.
Really?
Yes and some of them are in the university. Sam Amaga is the one that gave scholarship to some of them. He took the pains of their school for me and they are in his university. So I thank God for what He is doing through him and some families in Nigeria who took the other girls to the US.
One is studying law. One in her secondary and I can’t really remember what the other is studying.
Some times when you seat down and look at what you are doing, do you ask yourself what is in it for me? What do I stand to gain?
No, on my own, I don’t talk about gain. Sincerely, all I want to see is the smile on the faces of these orphans. That is all the gain I can foresee. If only I can see these children becoming something tomorrow, that is the greatest gain, I am okay.
I have the passion or burden for these children. It’s not the issue of what I would gain. It’s when they become something and can be able to help others because at times when they say, we would do this, I say if you can do it for some that are coming behind you, you have done it from your grandma. That is all I need.
I don’t like situation where I see orphans moving around without anything and they end up in crimes. Most of the crimes committed like prostitution and armed robbery are by children from broken homes and orphans. If it is good for them, they would not go into prostitution and robbery and the society will be good.
How did you acquire that land?
My mother gave me money to buy it some years back but she’s late now.  We have another land, 70 acres where we want to build free university for orphans. Somebody gave it to me. Someone heard that I have passion that I have been crying.
What happened was that I went to Otta. I saw Oyedepo’s land and university. So I was crying, saying ‘oh Lord what have we done to you in the North? Everything good happens in the south and east.
‘Apart from that does Oyedepo has two heads? He has only one head and you gave it to one man. I say God the only thing you left the North with is terrorism.’ So, I was crying bitterly and I slept off.
The next day, we went to see Oyedepo. He was not on seat. He went to Abuja but he was coming back that same day. A pastor entered. I saw everybody standing, so I stood up. I didn’t know who he was. I was told he’s Bishop Aremu. As he was going, he saw me and came back. He said ‘servant of God, daughter of Zion, God said what you are crying for yesterday, He has answered you.’
Then he specifically said the university you are crying for the Lord has answered you. Three months after he said this, somebody gave me this land, 70 acres.
Where is the land?
In Jos, 70 acres free, so we believe God will build that place as He built the camp so that His children will have free education without pains. They will have access to university as many orphans as are willing to learn and submit to the will of God.
If they are qualified, they will come there so that they will go to the university free. I told my staff that even if they are not qualified, teach them to qualify so that they can go to university, so that they will not miss it and lag behind.
How many staff do you have?
49
Full time?
Yes, 49 staff
So how are you coping with payment of salaries?
I don’t know but sometimes it is not easy and we are paying N600, 000 plus.
Every month?
Every month and sincerely sometimes six months I do not pay them and they are patient. As I speak with you, I am talking to you, for the past seven months they have not received anything yet and they are submissive to the work because we just look up unto God.
The day that God will bring it, we will share it for them. Like a time we didn’t pay, God just raised somebody somewhere. He just sent the money to me and I paid them all. They know the kind of person I am.
Like now I told them I can’t pay you and leave these children without food and here we all should sacrifice until God remember us and thank God for them. God will bless each and every one of them.
I told them what they are doing is not for me neither for these children but they are storing their treasures in heaven because honestly they have sacrificed so much and I am praying for them that they will not miss it.
49 of them, some of them married with children?
Yes, married with children. They are there because somebody saw the passion in me and they also have passion for the orphans. If not, many of them would have left.
Are your biological children wondering why you are doing this?
No, they won’t because they know that their mother has passion for it. Even though some are in Saudi Arabia but that does not matter. If they are around, they would have done same thing but I have adopted a lot of children.
In the minimum, how many children must have passed through the home?
More than 1000 plus
Supposing somebody deposited N100 million in your account, do you have projects to do with it?
Projects? We have projects upon projects. I told you we have no classes for the senior secondary. We don’t have enough accommodation for them to sleep. We have not started the project of the university.
They gave us the land. Somebody has gone there to dig about two boreholes there. If we have money now, we would just start work.
If we have N2million, we have things to do because I know what I have in mind for these orphans. I want them to be proud that God has raised a mother for them so that they will not cry.
One of them cried one day that supposing God has not raised grandma, where would he have been now? A child of 16 years. He would have been without home. He would have been without schooling.
He said God has raised grandma for them. At times some even think I am their biological mother. And I told them no one should ask them if I am their biological mother or not as long as God has given them to me.