Giving a helping hand
George Anderson works and lives in Shepherdsown, owning and operating Anderson Electric. But his skills led him away from home recently as he traveled to Egbe, Nigeria to assist in renovations to a hospital there.
Described by Anderson as a “small town in the bush,” Egbe has a population between three and four thousand. To get to Egbe, Anderson explained, he landed at the airport in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja and traveled in a car for 15 hours through pot holes and mud-covered roads where he found a hospital often run by generator because the electricity to the region is often unreliable.
Anderson was joined by seven other individuals, traveling as part of a missions trip sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse and SIM Ministry. Each of the members of the group brought specific skill sets to the area to assist in work on the hospital, which Anderson said, also serves as a nurse and midwifery school.
While none of the men knew each other prior to the trip, Anderson said, “We got very close, living and working together.”
Anderson explained that his main work was to refurbish the electrical wiring in the guest houses that are available for visiting doctors who come in to teach and offer services at the hospital. He explained that the power only works about 20 percent of the time so generators are necessary to keep power running so that the hospital can continue to function.
In the final stages of the monsoon season during Anderson’s October trip, Egbe suffered with nearly 96 percent humidity with temperatures at “98 degrees in the shade.”
“You get used to the heat,” Anderson said as he explained that his sleeping quarters had him in the bottom bunk wrapped with mosquito netting and no fan.
Working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week, Anderson explained that the group was taken care of by the native people.
“They cooked for us and even did our laundry for us,” he said. He explained that following his group’s two week trip, additional groups will follow to continue the work.
While Anderson is no stranger to the mission field, he was excited to visit Nigeria. He learned much about the culture and the habits of the people there.
“They re-use everything,” he said. He explained that one of the jobs the group did while there was work to tear down a building that needed to be reconstructed. Plaster on the walls was chipped away from the homemade bricks underneath so that it could be gathered and used to construct a dam. The bricks themselves, which crumbled apart, were gathered up and used for road fill.
Wood was re-used as well. Mahogany, which is a very expensive and valuable wood in the United States, is commonplace in Nigeria and used for 2x4s in construction.
“They [Nigerians] are very frugal,” Anderson said. “They make good use of all of their resources.”
The area, as evidenced by the long trip from the capital city, was a remote one. There were no cell phones, no television, radio or even newspapers.
“It was just me, my work work and my God,” Anderson said. “While I missed my family, it was a peaceful time without distractions.”
While in Nigeria, Anderson said that he was able to visit an orphanage where he took the children a soccer ball, which was met with complete approval.
Traveling through the area, Anderson said that the two things that were in abundance were goats and motorcycles.
“They were everywhere,” he said. “I even saw a goat on a motorcycle,” he laughed.
Anderson shared that with the native language of English in the area, he was able to communicate well with the native people.
“They really like Americans,” he said. “Despite what we hear in the media, they like us and are grateful that we come to help them,” he said.
In addition to his work in Egbe, Anderson was able to travel to Jos, a location in the northern part of the country. While in Jos, he visited with another Jefferson County family serving in the mission field, Tom and Heidi Jesserun. He visited the theological seminary where both of the Jesseruns teach.
“Jos is a city of a half million people,” Anderson said, which was a huge change from Egbe. “It is farther north with more of a Muslim influence and is often dangerous for Christians,” Anderson explained.
He shared that he learned that the children in the country loved to be “snapped,” meaning to have their photos taken.
“They would get all giggly when you showed them on a digital camera,” he said.
In his travels observing a small bush community as well as a large city, Anderson said that another thing that struck him was that women in the culture fare poorly. He explained that widows there must surrender all possessions to their husband’s family.
He visited a widow’s mission group in Jos where the women were taught to sew which would allow them to make money to support themselves.
“There was no electricity so they used old treadle machines,” he said. “These women are well-off compare to the average widow in Nigeria,” he explained.
When asked if he would return, Anderson had no hesitation when he said he’d go back in a heartbeat.
“What we did was needed,” he said “and that gives me personal satisfaction.”