Methodist Church Nigeria
EDAWU CENTRE for mentally ill destitutes
& Igede Community Psychiatric Programme

by Aidan Lucas, former Welfare Officer at Edawu

Edawu Centre for Mentally Ill Destitutes

Edawu was established officially on 2nd November 1996 as a centre for the rehabilitation of homeless people wandering the streets experiencing mental illness. The vision for the centre came from the late Bishop Okwoche, who had visited Amaudo Centre for Mentally Ill Destitutes in Abia state and became aware of the need for such a project within his own diocese of Igede.

Centre for Rehabilitation

The centre provides a holistic programme of rehabilitation for its residents including provision of psychiatric medication, counselling and life skills and vocational training. The residents live, work, eat and worship together every day.

Family Days

The families of the residents admitted to the Edawu Centre are traced as soon as possible and are informed about their relatives' whereabouts. Family members are then encouraged to become a part of the process of the residents' rehabilitation. Once a month at the centre family days are held, where relatives of the residents are provided with food, education about mental illness and a review of the progress of their relation. It is important that broken relationships are restored within families, to whom residents will return.

Re-integration back into the community

When the mental state of residents has stabilised and they have developed sufficiently in all areas home visits begin to take place and they are gradually reintegrated back into community life again.

Discharge Services

A service takes place after a number of residents have been discharged, where the restored lives of the residents are celebrated and the continuation of their health is prayed for.

Community Psychiatric Education Programme (CPEP)

Those experiencing mental health problems in Nigeria are some of the most stigmatized and abused people in society. It is common for such individuals to be whipped, chained, physically confined or found wandering the streets without a home. Educating communities and challenging traditional oppressive beliefs plays an important part in reducing the stigma and also increases awareness of the psychiatric clinics, where support can be received.

Igede Community Psychiatric Programme (CPP)

There are many individuals in the community experiencing mental illness who have not yet become homeless. The programme currently provides four clinics in various locations of Igede for such people, with over 700 registered patients since 1998. The clinics are also for discharged residents of the Edawu Centre. A qualified psychiatric nurse provides psychiatric medication at the clinics to individuals experiencing mental illness and where necessary carries out home visits.

Relationship with the local community

Edawu has become respected for the service that it provides to homeless people experiencing mental illness. The local community gave the land on which Edawu's permanent site is based. On this site there is a bore hole which is used by members of the local community. The staff of Edawu do all that they can to ensure that good relationships are maintained with community members, including chiefs, elders and church officials. Edawu's board of governors includes a number of prominent community figures.

Relationship with the Methodist Church Nigeria

The centre is a Methodist Church Nigeria project and yearly grants are provided by them as well as the wages of the manager of the project, who is a Methodist minister. The chairman of Edawu's Board of Governors is the local Methodist bishop, to whom the Project Manager is accountable.

Relationship with the Nigerian Government

A number of attempts have been made to secure funding for the ongoing work of the project from the local, state and federal government. Representatives from each of these have actually visited the centre and commend the service that is being provided. Although some financial support has been given there is a real need to secure more long term funding from the government for the services to be sustainable.

Relationship with the UK

The centre was initially established by funding received from the Wesley Guild Nigerian Health Care Project, who have also been the main providers of yearly grants for development as well as running costs. Representatives of the Guild visit on a two yearly basis.

The emerging charity ACCEPT also works in partnership with Edawu and its role includes communicating on a regular basis by e-mail, responding appropriately to requests, raising awareness of the project and co-ordinating visits to Edawu from the UK.