From 1984-1987 I lived in Eket, Nigeria. Mary Ellen Edmunds and I were sent to direct a child health project for the Thrasher Research Fund in Salt Lake City. I recently found this report we sent to headquarters not long after we first arrived there.
We lived in The Palace, mostly without electricity or running water. We helped build our furniture and we killed lots of cockroaches. It was a grand adventure! This letter gives a fun taste of establishing ourselves in an African village.
The generator house:
The local markets:
Collected rain water::
Furnishing The Palace
Film canisters filled with spices, and a few things we brought from home:
We had to filter, boil and chlorinate our water and soak all of our local fruit and produce in a chlorine solution.
Dedication of the chapel in Aba. This was the first building built to be an LDS Church in the whole Cross River State area. Now there is a temple there.
Eket Branch meeting in Samuel and Cecilia’s home:Baptisms:
On this day, more than 60 people were baptized. You can see the 3 baptismal sites below:Some of the men were confirmed, and received the Priesthood so they could baptize their family members.
Dinner with the Tretheways and Madsens:
Cecilia working in the garden planting waterleaf:
Our front yard with my pineapple crop:Grass grew non-stop in my pineapple garden:Chief’s wife, Ama Imeh helping in our garden:Wandering Bob “mowing the lawn”Our garden, before and after–ground nuts, waterleaf, potatoes, beans:
What our rice looks like before cleaning it. Yes, those are bugs. Yes we ate it all.
This sweet child is Doraty. She was 9 years old and weighed 23 lbs. We called her “broomstick” because her arms and legs were no larger. Her little belly was filled with roundworms living on whatever little food she received.
Here is Doraty’s family, the Bassey Udoeyos. They were our dear friends and neighbors. Sister Helen, the mom had 9 children. They lived on what they could produce.
We gave the children worm medicine to kill the worms in their bellies. Here is Esther, Doraty’s sister with the worms she passed the next morning:
Helen named her 9th child after me: Ann Bassey Davies Udoeyo:
Samuel and Cecilia and their family, our neighbors, mentors and dear friends:
Eket Branch members at our new meeting place:
I served as the Relief Society President in this dear Branch.
Fetching water–the children bathe, wash laundry and gather drinking water all in the same place. No wonder the children are so often weak and sick.
We taught and trained 100s of men and women to be Village Health Workers during the next 3 years, working in more than 25 villages. Here are a few of these good friends. I hope their lives were better because we were there.Branch members participated too:
A big part of my heart will always be here, in Eket with these dear friends and with Mary Ellen, who taught me to love more than I’d ever loved before.