Giving back hope to victims of insurgency - Zainab’s story

Feb 2, 2017

23 year old Zainab, displaced following the insurgency in North, now benefiting from a UNDP-supported skills acquisition programme in Maiduguri

 ‘’We hid him under the bed and my brothers in the ceiling, but they found him and dragged him out. Thank God they didn’t see my brothers.’’ Zainab still remembers the horrible night in 2014 when her father was abducted by armed men belonging to Boko Haram group in her hometown Bama, Borno State. Borno State became the epicentre of the 6+ yearlong insurgency which led to mass displacement of people, loss of livelihood, damage to infrastructure and broken families.

‘’They broke the door with their guns and came in, Baba fought back with all his strength, but they beat him and threw him into their van, now we don’t know if he is dead or alive.’’ Her father could have been forcibly recruited into the group – many have, including children and girls.

Zainab relocated to Maiduguri. With her mother and 10 siblings, they share one bedroom.

Since 2014, over 1.9 million people were displaced in Borno state alone, with more than half of them finding temporary shelter with host families in and around Maiduguri.

Zainab is now part of a programme aiming at creating a new future for displaced people in North East Nigeria. She learns dress making and embroidery at a Skill Acquisition Centre in Maiduguri, Borno State, set up by the Borno State Ministry of Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement, with support from UNDP and the Japanese government. The centre is part of the Livelihoods and Economic Recovery initiative of the UNDP Early Recovery Programme.

“It is difficult to address all needs of our beneficiaries adequately, and the sheer numbers are overwhelming” says Joerg, UNDP Early Recovery lead in Maiduguri. “We are still experimenting to find the right mix of psycho-social support, learning activities, and business training to create a credible future perspective. But it is extremely rewarding. After all, every single person we can help counts”.

For Zainab, the support received seems to help. She hopes to set up a dress making business after her training, so that she can support her mother in caring for her siblings.

“I am happy to be here”, she says “I am learning fast and I have made new friends. Coming here helps me forget the pain I sometimes feel.’’

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