As a result of the crisis, thousands of families have lost their businesses, land and livelihoods. Some families have lost so much they cannot even feed their children. Many children are pulled out of school to support the family income, or help feed themselves.
To combat this situation, Street Child are providing Family Business Grants and mentoring to support mothers and caregivers to set up sustainable businesses, such as selling small household items, so they can afford to feed, clothe and educate their children.
*Names of all beneficiaries have been changed to protect their identity.
This is Maryam*, who fled her village before Boko Haram militants entered back in 2011.
‘My husband said we should pack our things and leave the village before they arrived, because we could the see the problem was becoming so wide, so vast. We left everything and fled to Maiduguri. Boko Haram attacked shortly after, so we got out just in time. We did not carry anything with us. Nothing. Everything I possess is there in my village.’
The baby Maryam is holding in her arms is an orphan, who she has taken on as one of her own.
‘This baby’s mother died in the IDP [Internally Displaced Person] camp during childbirth. The father carried the baby to me - he was from a different place, a different tribe, a different background- and he said I must take care of this baby now. The father had three children and said he was going back to the village to drop his children there, and then he would look for a new wife to marry and then they would all come back and see this new baby. The father travelled to his hometown.’ On the way back, the father would be killed in a car accident.
‘I did not know the village he was from, but I remembered he had told me the name. I was going to go to the village with this boy to try and let people know about him and that he was with me. But then my mother fell sick, and died. At this point, no one had come to claim this child. I had not had the opportunity to try and return him home and I needed to save money to even go and look for this village.’
Maryam already had ten children of her own. A year ago her husband travelled to another state to look for greener pastures, but never returned, meaning Maryam was left to support their large family on her own.
‘I am very happy, to have this new baby. When I gave birth last time the baby died. I knew God would bless me, and then this baby came.’
Maryam was selected by Street Child to receive a Family Business Grant with which she runs a small kiosk selling small household items like groundnut and washing powder.
‘I am so happy. When you don’t have anything, somebody identifying your needs and giving you that money feels like a million! My life is now different. I have achieved so much from this grant that has been given to me. I don’t have to go out and beg. I can take care of myself and my family. We can buy all the household items I need. I am grateful! It is so different!’
Maryam’s children now also go to Street Child’s Temporary Learning Centre built in the camp, where they can learn and play with other children in a safe and secure environment.
‘I don’t know what to say about GEPAD-C* and Street Child. Before my children didn’t even know [the letter] “A” or [the number] “1” but now with the school [the Temporary Learning Centre], they know ABC, 123, they can speak English. The impact of Street Child and GEPAD-C, I don’t know what to tell you, the impact it has had on my life, on my children’s life.’
*GEPAD-C are Street Child’s local partner
Fadilah* is 45 years old and from a town about 250km from Maiduguri. She lived there her whole life until the arrival of Boko Haram militants.
‘I was at my evening prayers, when Boko Haram entered the town and they were shooting everywhere; they did so several times.’
‘Because of the attacks, and there were so many I could not count, we moved. Maiduguri was a little bit safer because the security presence is better here and the level of attacks is lower.’
‘We left everything behind. We walked 2 days of the journey by foot, some of it by car. We paid double or three times more than normal to use the car as there was so much demand for vehicles. We stopped and rested sometimes, especially if we thought we heard gunshots.’
After fleeing from her hometown with her husband and two children, Fadilah found out she was expecting her third child. Unfortunately, when Fadilah’s baby was born it was evident he was unwell and 18 days later he passed away.
One day when her husband went out for a walk around the outskirts of the camp he saw the unimaginable; a nylon bag wriggling on the ground. As he walked closer he saw a leg that was moving, and a small finger, which had broken through the nylon. He had discovered a baby. Fadilah’s husband called over some boys playing football nearby to come and watch the baby whilst he ran back home to Fadilah.
Upon hearing the news, Fadilah immediately went back with her husband to bring the baby back to their home.
Fadilah tells Street Child: ‘He was still covered in blood, so he could not have been born more than a few hours before we found him. We cut his umbilical cord and I washed him. I brought the clothes for my baby that had died and put it on him. I took him to the Civilian Joint Task Force and they said if I didn’t want him that they would take care of him, but I loved him! So I kept him.’
Fadilah named the baby boy Ahmed. Ahmed is now four months old, and looking very healthy. Their relationship is striking in the tenderness and love Fadilah showers on him, often kissing his cheek and holding him close to her.
Fadilah has been enrolled into the Street Child Family Business Scheme which means she can sell small household items within the camp to support her family; ‘I thank God. Now I can do my business. I can afford hospital bills where I could not before. Things are easier for all of my three children. For Ahmed I hope that god blesses him with good health and a good future.’
Falmatta* is 55. She was born in a town south of Maiduguri, where she lived until 2014.
Falmatta came to Maiduguri 4 years ago as an Internally Displaced Person. Boko Haram entered her village, using bombs to assault it, and the village people ran for their lives. No one lives there now.
‘It was every person for themself. They all ran for their life. I took nothing with me! No money, no nothing!’
When she came to Maiduguri she stayed in an IDP tent, a simple wood and tarpaulin structure, and was then given a place to stay by the bulama [community leader] after a few years.
Her daughter and her son-in-law both died from heart attacks induced by the stress of the crisis of the insurgency and the resulting displacement, leaving her as the sole carer of their four children.
Her youngest grandchild, Kareem (pictured right), is six and is currently attending Street Child’s temporary learning centre and Falmatta was selected for support with a Street Child Family Business Grant, and now runs a stall selling small household items outside her home.
‘I don’t know how to express myself...There is a great change from my life before and now! Now my grandchild is in school. They had never been to school! Before I was eating once a day, but now I can eat twice a day! Now I can buy detergent, wash my clothes, clean myself, and even have money to go and buy something in the school! Before there was none of this.’
‘For my grandchild I hope he becomes the governor of Borno State! For myself I would like to continue to expand my business and continue my life!’