Gibbs: Three months in Nigeria

Dan and Tina Gibbs
Dan and Tina (center) visited the Orlando Converge Worldwide Office in January, after completing three months in Nigeria

Dan and Tina Gibbs start each morning with quiet time and breakfast together. If they are lucky enough to find some Folgers coffee, they have coffee too. Then they head down to the Gembu Center for HIV/AIDS Advocacy Nigeria (GECHAAN) to greet the 35 staff members. 

"We greet the staff and, as people are coming into the clinic, we greet them too," Dan said. "Our goal is to greet to every staff member at least twice a week."

Relationship is important to the Gibbs. Their predecessors, Art and Dorothy Helwig, ran the clinic for eight years. The Helwigs, who have become their mentors, left a legacy for the Gibbs to build on and learn from.

After the Gibbs spent two weeks training in summer 2012, a trip to the airport became a life changer. On the road to the airport, a man at a checkpoint shot at their vehicle, and Tina took a bullet in the leg. Her injuries were not life threatening, but when they returned to the States, many wondered why or if the Gibbs would proceed with their plans to move to Nigeria. 

"God made it very clear he was going to take care of us, and that's where he wanted us," Tina said. "'People ask, 'Aren't you worried about Ebola or Boko Haram?' No. God already showed us back then he has a plan way bigger than we do, and we've seen positives from that experience."

Gembu, Nigeria
The view of Gembu from the Gibbs' back door

Part of it is respect from the staff. Wilson, a groundskeeper, told Dan he never thought they would come back, even though Art assured him they would.

"Wilson told us, 'We knew you weren't going to show up. We went to the airport, and people were coming out and you didn't come out. We knew it was a waste of a trip," Dan said. "Then Wilson continued: 'But then you came out, and we were amazed you actually came. We really appreciate you after all of the things that happened coming back to Nigeria. We needed you here.'"

Dan says the staff was worried that when the Helwigs left things would come to an end. But now they say it's a new beginning. The Gibbs have big plans for GECHAAN: They want it to become a hospital. 

Gembu, Nigeria
Dan working with staff to install a new generator

"There isn't quality health care for miles and miles," Dan said. "People travel at least a day in any direction to get quality health care. The staff really wants us to be that place where the people come from all over to get quality care."

The Gibbs' first three months in Nigeria have been filled with paperwork, emails, organizing and cleaning. Dan bolsters the maintenance and accounting staff. Tina is answering a lot of emails, but also has time to pray and visit with children. 

"The children are really cute; some little, little kids have never seen a white person before," Tina said. "They are intrigued or scared, and that can make me sad. A lot of times they are afraid of me, but I'm starting to develop relationships with them."

Tina recently helped a woman who visited the clinic after her daughter died during childbirth. She brought in a newly-born baby and needed help.

"One in 10 women die in childbirth. This grandma came into the clinic in tears," Tina said. "She didn't know what to do. Her husband died and she had just buried her daughter an hour ago. She was overwhelmed, grieving and just scraping by. Now she has a baby too."

Pictured: the grandmother who came to GECHAAN for help

Tina went into town for blankets, clothes and formula. The nurses at the clinic taught the woman how to properly sanitize baby bottles and mix the formula. Tina says this is all just part of her job. She tries to recognize the present needs at the clinic and encourage patients.  

The next steps for GECHAAN and the Gibbs are getting the supplies they need to make the clinic a hospital. Dan is keeping a tight ship on finances, to be sure they have what they need to continue serving. Tina is also working to start an AWANA program for children, and to continue fostering relationships in the community.

"We want to be a place for quality healthcare," Dan said. "Local healthcare saves people's lives in Nigeria, where life expectancy is only 53."

To partner with the Gibbs in making GECHAAN a hospital, click here.

    Point - September 2018

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