After travelling through Europe and living in Spain half a year in 1965, I travelled through West Africa. My destination was Nigerian Youth Camp. I was going there at the invitation of Katherine Dyck, a friend of the family, a missionary sponsored by the Mennonite Brethren Church.

Miss Dyck went to Africa at age 20 with the Sudan Interior Mission, but soon branched out on her own when a set of twins was left on her doorstep. She took them in and adopted them as her own.

She came to Canada on furlough and showed slides at my uncle’s house in Winkler. I said at the dinner table I would like to visit her.

“Yes, come,” she said. Several years later I did.

I performed two tasks while there. I measured out all the buildings of the camp and drew them onto a big paper canvas in the dining room. I also made a big sign that was put up on the highway between Lagos and Ibadan. Everyone who travels in Nigeria between the two cities knows about Nigerian Youth Camp because of the sign.

I went to market in Ibadan with Bobby. Going from the camp to Ibadan, you had to go through a big traffic circle in the middle of the jungle. It was the intersection of two main highways in Nigeria, one going north and south, the other east and west. This traffic circle was the scene of battles during the Civil War.

Life in camp was interesting. Past the creek at the bottom of the property, was a Pagan village from where the sound of women pounding yams for supper came across the treetops. It was a chunk-chunk sound as the women pounded in rhythm, seated around a big open pot.

I had an attack of appendicitis while in Nigeria and had to go to the hospital in Ogbomosho.

Before I left, they threw a party for me and gave me a Nigerian outfit complete with trousers, blouse and a coat. I wanted to write a book about Katherine, but it never happened. She wanted one of her own 75 foster children to write the book.

The children she raised came to her from mothers who wanted their twins kept alive in a culture where twins are killed because one is thought to have a good spirit, the other a bad one. To make sure the bad one does not survive, they kill both twins.

Naturally mothers want their children to live, so they would leave them on Katherine’s doorstep. She became known as Big Mama and had a good influence on Nigeria.

I wanted to go to her funeral but it was not possible. Katherine Dyck is to be remembered for being a great person, like mother Teresa.

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