Clogher Diocesan Initiative supports Nigerian Communities
Clogher Diocesan Initiative supports Nigerian Communities

The Reverend Noel Regan, Diocesan Curate of the Garrison, Slavin, Belleek and Kiltyclogher Group of Parishes in the Diocese of Clogher, has just returned from “an experience of a lifetime” in the Diocese of Kaduna, Nigeria where the Church of Ireland Diocese of Clogher is involved in financially supporting a project based on a combination of reconciliation, agriculture and self-empowerment.
An old proverb goes: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day….teach him how to fish, and you feed him for life.’
The same could be said in part, in relation to the Jacaranda Farm in the Kaduna Diocese of northern Nigeria, where Noel recently spent a week to see how funds raised by the Diocese of Clogher are being, and will continue be put to good use.
The 200 acre Jacaranda farm was bought by the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna following civil unrest in the region in 2000, and is being used as a working educational farm where members from both the Muslin and Christian communities can come together, build relations, and learn vital skills which they can bring back to utilize in their respective families and communities.
The programme hopes eventually to be able to accommodate 80 students who will develop skills in a range of agricultural areas, from fish farming and crop development, to growing fruit and rearing poultry and rabbits, over a three month stay.
“ Initially Clogher Diocese embarked on an initiative to support the development of rabbit farming at Jacaranda, but the project has expanded and grown beyond this to other aspects of the farm. The Diocese of Clogher has already raised in the region of £50,000 following a visit to Clogher Diocese about 18 months ago by the Archbishop of Kaduna, the Most Revd Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who sought support towards the construction of a rabbitry,” Noel explains.
As a result of his agricultural background with his own farm at Ballintrillick in County Sligo, Revd Regan was an obvious choice for the Bishop of Clogher to appoint as Chairman of the Jacaranda Farm Support Committee. This, his first visit to Africa has left Noel convinced of the merits of their local fundraising and indeed of the project itself. “The farm is run by a voluntary management committee of exceptional ability and integrity, with wide-ranging qualifications, from veterinarians to engineers, and architects to accountants. The region suffered greatly in 2000 with several thousands being killed during civil unrest. There is a level of poverty difficult to comprehend in our affluent society, but the project is offering people from both communities, Muslim and Christian, the opportunity to come and live together and learn how to become self-sufficient.”
Having been raised on a largely self-sufficient farm in a thatched cottage, which was built in 1750, which his mother Emily still calls home, Noel says the scenes he witnessed “didn’t entirely blow me away.” However he went on to say "that said, my turf-shed would be similar to many of the homes I saw.”
Noel also attended a number of church services during his visit. “Church offers the people another world, the otherness of God. There were around 1,500 people at a communion service I attended, which was traditional and very similar to what we would have over here. Everyone was turned out so beautifully – it’s part of their social life and a real celebration,” recalls Noel.
The committee plans to progress other elements of the farm with possibly irrigation and machinery being two areas in need of urgent development. “I am convinced of the merits of the project. I know we are in relatively difficult economic times, but assisting in such a way is what the Church and Gospel is all about. It’s about liberating and lifting people up.”

Revd Noel Regan with members of the local Church in Kaduna Diocese, Northern Nigeria



Date: 16th April 09