Nigeria Report - Part 2
Sixteen hours after leaving Washington on January 22, Fr Pavone's international outreach team arrived in Lagos with luggage overflowing with a whole arsenal of prolife materials like Ending Abortion, Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, Silent No More and Rachel's Vineyard brochures, prayer cards and much much more. All the materials will be distributed without charge to conference participants in the four hosting cities.
Day one began as all our mission trips do with a Mass, this time at Church of the Assumption Ikoyi. Most people in Nigeria go to church -- Mass can last two to three hours, is filled to capacity and crowded around the doors and windows with families and extended families ranging from the very young to the very not so young and everyone in between. It is a family event worth dressing up for and a cherished part of the week, even at 95 degrees with no air conditioning.
After Mass which flew by in no time, we headed for a brief lunch with conference organizers and then off to our first meeting at the Lagos Resource Centre on Victoria Island. There we were greeted by 100 family life leaders and met the esteemed faculty that Theresa Okafor, director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage (FACH), had assembled for this important series of talks throughout Nigeria.
The formula for all the talks would be introductions by Theresa, greetings by Bob Lalonde on behalf of Fr Pavone followed by a special video message from Dr Alveda King, director of PFL's African-American Outreach initiative, Michele Velasco's talk The Results of A Culture of Death, and all of the other talks given by national and internationally renowned speakers, question period and refreshments.
The overall message was for Nigeria -- despite pressure from outside population control organizations -- to protect and retain its culture rich in family life that values motherhood and children and is supported by a strong and active faith. (In Nigeria, abortion is illegal except as an unintended consequence when saving the life of the mother.)
Our Nigerian experts included Catholics, Christians and Muslims such as Theresa Okafor, Dr. Obi Ideh, Jerry Okwuosa, Dr. Zita Obi, and Dr. Henrietta Williams speaking on A Blueprint for Strong and Happy Marriages, Women Empowerment and CEDAW, Human Sexuality, Bringing Up One's Children, and Women's Health and the Creighton Method, respectively. The speakers were chosen by FACH for their expertise in the various topics covered by the conference and all of the papers will be made available online at the end of the conference.
The next day we repeated the series of talks for increasingly larger groups at St Agnes of Maryland in the afternoon and Divine Mercy Church at Lekki Peninsula in the evening. Participants were grateful for the information and often volunteered their services to inform others and join in the fight to end abortion and prevent a culture of death from taking hold in Nigeria. The talks had great impact on the attending lay people, priests, nuns, and men and women of both Christian and Muslim faiths. Attending the conference was costly for people due to the gas shortage (ironic for an oil exporting country) and people have to cue up for an hour to get gas. During the seminar, they were unaffected when the electricity would stop from time to time and the seminar would keep going.
Between the seminars Bob and Michele met with the leadership of FACH which is active throughout Africa.
Day 3 was the last one in Lagos and focused on meetings with government officials, tapings, and the press. Mrs. Gbemi Shasore, a special representative of the First Lady of Lagos met and discussed prolife issues with our speakers for over two hours instead of the originally planned 20 minutes.
Click here for Part 1 of the Nigeria report
Click here for Part 3 of the Nigeria report