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When Rebecca Lubbert graduated from Trumbull High last year, she was frustrated. The former volleyball star had applied to 12 colleges, but wasn’t feeling particularly excited about any of them.
“I felt like there was something different in store for me after high school,” said Lubbert.
That “something different,” it would turn out, was a one year service trip half a world away in the city of Jos, Nigeria. It is in that far corner of the globe that Lubbert has made an impact in the lives of everyday Nigerians.
Situated on the coast of West Africa, Nigeria is country defined by both opportunity and hardship. Considered an emerging market and recognized as Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria has also faced many challenges in the 21st Century including terrorism, inequality, economic uncertainty, and ethnic rifts in the country’s western, northeastern, and middle regions. It is in these conflicted and under-resourced communities that Lubbert found her calling to serve.
For the past six months, Lubbert has been serving with an organization called City Ministries. She lives in a mission compound, and travels into Jos to visit with underprivileged communities to deliver vital services and spiritual support. At first, the contrast between American and Nigerian daily life was startling, she said.
“I saw an overwhelming amount of needs and a lack of resources to begin meeting the needs. It was difficult to know where to begin,” said Lubbert.
After traveling and meeting with members of the community, Becca found several areas where she has focused her work. Each week, she visits with orphaned girls, where she tutors in math and English, and coaches volleyball. Becca also visits regularly with female inmates in Nigerian prisons. She said that these visits help the women “experience the love of God even in their difficult and sometimes unjust circumstances.”
Becca has also helped deliver vital aid to children who have been victimized by tribal violence and the terrorist group Boko Haram. The United Nations estimates that nearly 2 million Nigerians have been internally displaced by terrorist violence. Many of these internally displaced persons, or IDPs, are children whose parents have been victims of terrorism. Alarmed by the conditions many IDP orphanages, Becca spearheaded fundraising efforts to buy beds and mosquito nets for the young children. To date, her GoFundMe page has raised over $10,000.
The violence perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists has also prompted Becca to join a relatively new organization called The LEAH Foundation, which is bringing worldwide attention to the captivity of a girl named Leah Sharibu who was kidnapped last year by terrorists at the age of 14.
The foundation has come alongside Leah’s parents to raise prayer support, petition the government on her behalf, and support other girls affected by terrorism in Nigeria.
For Becca, the spiritual and humanitarian relief she has brought to countless Nigerians isn’t the only benefit of her monthslong mission trip to Africa. She also feels personally fulfilled, saying “My year in Nigeria has changed me for the better, and I wish that more high schoolers would consider taking a year to learn and gain experience before furthering their education.”