Not All Heroes Wear Capes. Some make a choice to do something and aid humanity. This month on the #NAHWC series, we are telling the stories of young people who did something this Christmas to put smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. Two weeks ago, we began with Nissi Peter and the Salted Peoples Campaign, last week we read the story of Oluyinka Alli-Balogun and SPARKS and this week we have Bamshak Dagwer and Seeds of Hope.
Sarauta Magazines Nenkinan Deshi interviewed Bamshak and there is so much to learn from here. Enjoy the read.
Hello Bamshak. Please briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Bamshak Dagwer. I was born and raised in Jos Plateau State, Nigeria. I am married to Makayla Dagwer. We are blessed with two daughters and a son and currently serve as pastors with assemblies of God church in Green Bay Wisconsin. Before then, we were missionaries with Youth with a Mission.
What led to the formation of Seeds of Hope? What was the root idea and how did it grow to become the awesome NGO it is?
Seeds of Hope was birth because of the ongoing crisis in the Northern part of Nigeria. I remember when the first attack happened in 2001. It was so devastating to see. Several other attacks took place that led to the launch of Seeds of Hope because I realized that this is an ongoing thing.
More so, I came across Matthew 25:35-40 during my devotion someday. It says, “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in�?
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you since you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ Right there and then, I knew that catastrophic situations are always going to be there because of the evil state of a human being, but as Christians, I believe that God is calling us to respond or to be agents of change at such times.
Therefore, my wife and I responded to the passion that God laid in our hearts, and that was how SEEDS OF HOPE came into being.
What is the mode of operation of Seeds of Hope? What exactly do you do?
Our goal is to be able to start operating in the following four areas by the end of 2019:
- Safe Home (Orphanage)– To provide a safe environment for the kids to thrive despite their situation.
- School– To train, equip and raise future Godly patriotic leaders for Nigeria.
- Transitional home for Trauma counselling: The transitional home focuses on providing shelter and counselling care for restoration and hope for traumatized individuals and victims of the endless conflicts and attacks in northern Nigeria.
- Feeding Program– Wherever there are crises, lack of food, starving or malnourishment becomes the number one problem. SOH is providing 2 meals a week that fill the nutritional gaps that are so common for poor children. Chronic malnutrition can have irreversible effects on a child’s physical and cognitive development, which can make learning difficult.
But as of now, we have been feeding about 250 kids every other week for over a year. And have fed about 500 plus on other occasions.
How was the journey? How did you assemble your army of volunteers? And what challenges did you face in mobilization?
God has been faithfully providing through some faithful donors. Even though we are trusting God for more finances so we can make the feeding program weekly instead of every other week and raise the structures we need for the other ministries, but we’ve never missed our regular feeding program because of lack of finances so that’s great.
Regarding assembling volunteers, since I live in the US I have little or less involvement with that. All the credit goes to a friend of mind (Victor Itse Bala) who is the coordinator of SEEDS OF HOPE in Nigeria. He worked hard in assembling people that do the cooking and volunteers that help share the food and even teach the kids. Not sure how he did it or how hard it was for him, but he did it!
How do you raise funds? What is the response of people to your calls for support?
We raise funds through sharing our vision with individuals, churches and organizations and inviting them to join us in the fight for the cause. Even though is sometimes challenging as we’ve been turned down by some individuals, churches and organizations, but the overall vision has been well receptive even by those that don’t end up partnering with us.
From your experience, how well do you think the Federal government have arrested the Internal Displaced person’s problem?
Well from the few IDPs I had the opportunity to talk with, it seems like the Federal Government has done a poor job in handling the situation. It’s sad to say, that we live in a country whereby corruption has eaten deep down to the solid foundation that was laid down by our founding fathers. Situations like this are often used as an opportunity for exploitation and embezzling public funds. These IDPs are leaving in camps with little or no utilities. They are told to return to their homes with little or no security to protect them, which makes no sense.
Malnutrition is one of your core concerns. How big of a problem do you think malnutrition of these displaced children is?
Well, Malnutrition remains one of the leading complications in the deaths of children under five in developing countries – nearly 3 million children every year. One of the most contributing factors to malnutrition is the presence of war or conflict! We are beginning to see that surfacing in some of the children we see during our feeding program. That calls for an urgent response!
What are the top challenges you notice aside from malnutrition that internally displaced kids face?
One of the top challenges that the IDPs face, is trafficking! Their situation puts them in a vulnerable position making them an easy target for human traffickers. The second challenge is that of hygiene. They are often placed in overcrowded facilities with insufficient utilities. Their living conditions open the door for the spread of sickness or disease.
How do you recommend the IDP problems and challenges listed above are solved by Government and Private Individuals?
I think one of the ways these problems or challenges can be solved by the government or any individual, is by considering the basic needs of a human which is:
- Physiological needs – these are biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sleep. If these needs are not satisfied, the human body cannot function optimally. The physiological needs are the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.
- Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
The physiological needs are what SEEDS OF HOPE as an NGO is focused on. There are probably others out there that are doing the same, but we’ve got to realize that the time to act is now as there are others out there that are there to use the situation for their own personal gain. Therefore, we call on everyone to join us to make these needs that the IDPs face a reality.
How was your last campaign/outreach last month during Christmas?
Our last outreach was good but heart-breaking. It opened our eyes to the reality that most of the IDPs face. At this point, we are trying not to let what we’ve seen or heard discourage us. The task is so huge that one can easily get discouraged so we are trying to stay focused.
What is your vision for the Seeds of Hope? How soon will you be having another outreach?
Our vision is to have a new Nigeria where every child can grow in a safe environment and reach their God-given potential, regardless of their circumstance. We currently have feeding programs going on every other week.
What advice would you give young Nigerians out there?
My advice to the youth is, if you want to make a difference or succeed in this life, then you must identify a problem and become the solution to the problem. Great and successful people or businesses comes to being because of problem-solving.
How can someone contact you or the Seeds of Hope?
R. Bamshak Dagwer
- +1 (920) 784-7046 (Please only call between 3-10 pm Nigerian time because of the time difference)
Thank you for reading. And God bless Bamshak and his team for rising to the task. Watch out for more stories of heroes who don’t wear capes and check previous stories here