Boko Haram, poverty and hardships could not break these proud Nigerians



special project
NAIJ.com

Our two-month marathon of NAIJ.com's exclusives is almost over. Ten VIP Nigerians and nine proud Nigerians have already told their stories.

We agreed that there cannot be one hero in the 10th and final edition of the special project. Instead, millions of Nigerians who survived the Boko Haram insurgency are the heroes.

Meet some of our compatriots who have gone through incredible hardships, but they remain strong, passionate and patriotic.
PART I
Fashion at an IDP camp
As part of efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the Boko Harm terrorist attacks in Nigeria, a group of individuals on the platform of Fashion for Charity (FFC), a non-profit organisation, decided to take a fashion event to the IDP camp in New Kuchingoro, Abuja.

With collections from the recently concluded Abuja fashion week, some residents at the camp were treated to free hair and make up services. For many of them it was a first possibility in several years.
Fashion for Charity is a build up goal to an event we will be hosting in November. We will be bringing famous fashion designers from Milan; the likes of Giorgio Armani, and some media houses like Vogue, Elle magazines.
Jeffery Bent, a coordinator of the charity drive, said. He added that funds raised would be channeled towards assisting the IDPs in Nigeria.
Fashion for Charity serves as a bridge for stakeholders in the fashion world like designers, make up artistes, photographers, who have been looking for an avenue to also make a difference.
Bankole Ojo, a partner of the event, explained, adding that all the participants were committed to building support for the IDPs in Nigeria.
A fashion entrepreneur Mimi Habibah who donated some clothes from her Maison Mimi collections averred that the charity drive was an opportunity to put smiles on the faces of the people.

"I wanted to be a part of the charity drive because the Boko Haram crisis is very close to home, I am from the north-east, so I fully understand what they are going through.

"Any opportunity to give back is not just a blessing to us but to them as well. Also because it puts a smile on the faces of the kids. I had such a good time giving them some of my pieces from my personal clothes and collections," she said.

Tumara Faces, a make up artist at the event, told NAIJ.com that she would be taking women at the camp on make up classes in addition to providing them with free make up products to empower them.
Martha John-Ayuba, one of the beneficiaries of the initiative, addressed NAIJ.com in Hausa language. She expressed her appreciation to the organizers of the event, said that since the terrorists attacked her community she had not been able to get new clothes.
Martha John-Ayuba could not hide her happiness. The beautiful smile says it all.
"I am so happy because since the Boko Haram attacks started in my local government in Gwoza, Borno state, I have not been able to get new any new dress.

"For over four years now, I have not been able to sew or buy any new dress. I only rely on used clothing from individuals, churches, mosque and organisations who visit us once in a while."


Ladies remain ladies, despite all the hardships
A woman who spoke on the condition of anonymity pleaded with the organisers to come with more clothes on their next visit, as she did not get any.

"The event is good but the only problem is that the clothes are not enough. They did make up for most of us but only a few of us got the clothes.

"I pray that God will provide for them so that they can bring more clothes for us because most of us can't buy beautiful clothes like these ones,"
she said.


PART II
New Year at an IDP camp
As the world marked the beginning of the new year on Friday, January 1, 2016, NAIJ.com was at the IDP camp in New Kuchingoro, Abuja, to see how its residents celebrated the start of the new year far from their homeland.
Kumbo Bukar, a young man who was the first person to meet our team, revealed a dramatic episode of his life: he was not certain of the whereabouts of his biological father who ran for safety during the Boko Haram attacks in his community in Gwoza, Borno state.
Recounting his experience, the 28-year-old noted that they had been surviving in the camp through the help of good-spirited Nigerians and organizations who bring food items and other household items to them on a regular basis.
"I do not know if my father is alive right, he also does not know my where about. Most of us here have lost our relations to the insurgency.

"I want President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill the promise he made to us that by December 2015, he will stop the Boko Haram so that we can return back to our villages because it is not our wish to be here."

- Some of these kids also do not know the whereabouts of their parents.
- The children, in a 'cheese pose' for a snap shot, even as they played around a 'Merry Christmas' customized motor tyre. Photos: Yinka Adeparusi.
"We want to thank God for the Nigerian Navy who brought us food items, including a cow, for the New Year, because nobody brought us anything for the Christmas celebration.

"I want to thank our Nigerian military, let them try their best to pursue all these Boko Haram insurgents. If that is done, by God's grace we are going back to our village," Philemon Emmanuel, the chairman of the camp, said.
Youths distributing meat donated by the Nigerian Navy
Women expressing their joy in songs to celebrate the New Year
Ladi Mathias, the women's leader, talked to NAIJ.com's team in her dialect.

She expressed joy over the donation by the officers and the men of the Nigerian Navy. Ladi also prayed that the insurgents would be totally defeated in no distant time.

The highlight of the day was the visit by some families who brought food items to the IDP camp. Watch the exclusive video report from NAIJ.com's visit to the camp:

PART III
How Boko Haram attacks result in a rare medical condition
Saratu Ishaku's case is one out of many at the IDP camp in New Kuchingoro, Abuja. Asides losing all she had to the terrorist attack in her community, Gwoza, the health condition of this poor woman is one that calls for concern.
Saratu told NAIJ.com that the ailment started about two years ago, adding that she could barely eat.
"This sickness started about two years ago when Boko Haram terrorists attacked my village in Gwoza. I went to the Maitama general hospital and I was diagnosed of ulcer, they also told me that I had high blood pressure. They treated me but I still, I do not feel any better.

"Apart from my husband and children, nobody helps me here in the camp and they all know that I have been ill for a long time now. They do not even come close to me."
When asked why she laid under the tree in a nearby bush, she said:

"Here is a bit cool. The house I stay in the camp is made of polythene material which is usually hot especially in the afternoon. The only problem is the bad odour."
Her husband, Mr Ishiaku who was in a sad mood as at the time of the visit, said that Saratu' condition could have been prompted by lack of food while in the bush.
Saratu's daughter Mariamu
sitting beside her mother under a tree at the Kuchingoro IDP camp in Abuja
"When the Boko Haram terrorists attacked our village, we ran and spent many days without food or water in the bush. We even had to climb mountains in the process. Later she began to complain of pain by the left side of her stomach.

"She visited different hospitals even here in Abuja but still, no improvement. I am tired! I have left everything for God. If Nigerians can help her get well, I will be very happy because we have tried in our own little way," the husband of the ailing woman said in low tone.

PART IV
How I escaped Boko Haram massacre survivor speaks
Growing up in a remote village of Adamawa was full of fun and great childhood memories for Abraham Ntanda. Watching the trees blossom during the rainy season and winds billow in the night under the moonlight as he and his friends listened to songs and jokes from different houses. He thought of growing up and joining the Nigeria Police Force in Yola someday.

Abraham only had a secondary school education before dropping out due to lack of funds to further his academic aspirations. His elder brother, Josiah Ntanda, completed secondary school and left the village for Yola to become a policeman.
"As my father died, it was only my mother who took care of my brother, my sister and I. Growing up was fun as we had a lot of family members around us in the village. It was a peaceful setting.

"When I dropped out of school I started rearing cows as my brother left the village and went to town to join the police force, so that was what I was doing till I grow up,"
he told NAIJ.com.

Boko Haram invasion
Abraham was returning from the farm one evening when suddenly he saw people running helter-skelter. He turned around and saw was some guys who were looking dirty and haggard, chasing residents all over the town. Abraham took to his heels but fell along the way, damaging his leg, but managed to get to his house to protect his old mother:
"When I got home, I quickly carried my mother and flee our home to the king's palace where we slept. We went back home after they left two days later, they had stolen our cows – mine was four and my mother's were six with food stuffs and clothes.

"They also killed those people in church. Anyone who was identified as a Christian was gunned down."
Abraham's village up till now is never the same peaceful place again. Houses and farmlands have been burnt, and all that is left are desecrated and burnt out houses and huts, with soldiers strolling as if it is a war zone.
"My fiancé is missing up till now. What I can do but to wait on God and also pray for peace wherever she finds herself. To marry now is a problem, as I don't even have money or job, which woman will answer me?

"I don't even know if she is one of the girls who were kidnapped by these men, they disguise to the market, buy things and use the idea to get through to the girls and deceive them to follow them where they raped and eventually kill them,"
Abraham narrated to NAIJ.com.
Murder
Josiah, the brother of Abraham, visited the village to check on his mother was beheaded by the Boko Haram terrorists. They made the old woman watch them carry out this act. She passed out, and the head of his brother was hung on a stick alongside other freshly-maimed human heads.

It was the most dreaded sight one can ever imagine, while in the act they got a hint that the soldiers were coming and they fled the town.
"As they kill my brother, cut his head off and other guys, my mother fainted. They raped young girls, burnt houses and even eat already cooked food.

"You can see everywhere was filled with dusts, they were shooting, people were shouting crying and running, we never stopped running and they targeted Christians more in our village."


Role of the soldiers
In Abraham's talk with NAIJ.com, he accused the army of misbehaviour, lamenting that they sometimes leave what they are supposed to do, which is to protect the people of Adamawa, however, what they mostly do is chase skirts, get drunk and misbehave.

Adding that each time the terrorists comes to raid the villages some of the military will change their uniforms and wear normal cloth then take to their heels:
"The soldiers around there misbehaved, in fact you have to see them, if you want to talk to army they will beat you because they didn't believe anyone, even Okada, if you are riding and they catch you they will ask you to put it on your head and frog jump with it then beat and torture you if Boko Haram comes they will run away.

"Even the armies too will go and carry girls and get drunk this is why the Boko Haram get them sometimes because when they are drunk they will carry army guns and run away with them.

"The government need to advice the Nigerian army and make sure they stop behaving anyhow, even when we were running one day like that, I have to remove my top and give army to change his uniform so they won't kill him."



Fleeing to Abuja
It took the interference of some Good Samaritan to give him and some others the money which was used to transport them to Abuja.
"I came to Abuja with a group of friends. It took us days because no one trusted us, I was first of all in Asokoro then I came to join the IDP camp here, life has not been easy.

"I missed my home, missed my mother and I am even afraid they will come for us here in the camp, I am forced to always look behind my shoulders every time, my life is never the same again," he told NAIJ.com.
Abraham is one of the over two millions of Nigerians who have been displaced and scattered all over the federation. Some will never go back home as they have nothing left for them there:
"I am here now, even if it is a cleaning job I will take, with N10,000 salary a month, I will live well and can also manage myself, there is nothing more than I can do here.

"Cow rearing and farming is all I know, I can't farm, I don't have a land here, sometimes I get so hungry and we wait for people to come and give us gifts and if they do we only get small portion because we share it within ourselves."

The report was put together by Aderonke Bello, a managing editor at NAIJ.com. She visited the Gongola IDP camp, Airport road in Abuja to speak with the survivor.


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