Deborah Robin Croft, a member of U.S. Africa Command’s Public Affairs Office, is on temporary assignment in Abuja, Nigeria working at the U.S. Embassy.
Only about 50 meters beyond the sprawling mansions owned by a handful of Nigerian Government officials–in the southeastern section of Abuja, Nigeria known as Asokoro–lies a dusty, tiny, forgotten village called Kaduma.
Kaduma Village has no well or bore hole, so the people who live there must lug water from a muddy stream that meanders between their mud huts and the mansions looming above them on a steep grade. The water they cook with is the same water they bathe in and wash with. This is the way much of Nigeria is in the cities, with a stark contrast between the ruling class and those who struggle daily to survive in this hardscrabble land.
On Christmas Eve, 2010 a small band of volunteers from several embassies in Abuja drove a van to the village to contribute clothes, food and toys for the people of Kaduma Village in time for the holidays. The volunteers included diplomats from the Canadian Embassy, the U.S. Embassy and several from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). There were U.S. Marines and U.S. Army officers in the group of volunteers who carried the heavy boxes of canned foods to the thatch-roofed hut where the villagers would line up later that evening to receive their gifts. During my TDY here at the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, I am reminded again and again how our servicemen and women–posted at embassies all over the world–continuously display their volunteering spirit and generosity in many unseen ways.
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