I. The slow but sure road to women and adolescent girls recovery and empowerment.
Cross section of beneficiaries at the safe space during psychosocial support activities. Photo Credit: FHI 360 -IHANN library
At the start of the year, I noticed a woman who was always by herself at the safe space. She looked tired, untidy, hungry, and never spoke to anyone or participated in any of the activities but was always around. After observing her for a while, I then asked to speak to her privately.
During our interaction, she revealed that her name was Mallama Izzah and narrated how her 7-year-old daughter was captured by gunmen when they fled their village during an attack.
Gunmen captured my seven-year-old daughter when they attacked my village. And since that day, things have never been the same. I don’t know where my daughter is or her condition (wellbeing). My husband is aged and sick and depends on me for everything, and my son as well.
I counseled her and engaged her in psychosocial support activities at the safe space. She slowly started participating in group activities and was then enrolled in the women peer education session. Mallama Izzah’s interaction with other women improved.
As part of the psychosocial support activities, Mallam Izzah received a start-up kit for hatmaking and made several Hula/Hausa cap (hats) and sold it at the local market. She made some profit and reinvested it in hatmaking. Today Mallama Izzah has gone further to start a trading business alongside hatmaking.
The safe space helped me to heal and cope with my situations. My relationship with other women has improved. Alongside the hatmaking, I sell vegetables and condiments like pepper, tomatoes, vegetables, groundnut oil, Maggie (seasoning), dry okra, salt, smoked fish, and lots more. I can provide for my family: my son now attends a government secondary school in Maiduguri while I take care of my sick husband. I feel a lot better and my overall health has improved greatly. This is only possible because of FHI 360 and the support I received in safe space.
Mallama Izzah gained her self-esteem back in a remarkable manner and is an inspiration to other women and girls in the safe space.
II. “The IYCF lead father saved my life...” - Falmata Waziri
Falmata and her son. Photo Credit: Ali Makinta/FHI 360
On this faithful day, Falmata Waziri would never have thought her and her unborn child would survive as armed men attacked the International Secondary School (ISS) IDP camp. Falmata at 35 weeks pregnant was triggered into labor as the attack was happening, and she delivered her baby safely, but the placenta was retained.
When the attack on our camp started, everyone was running helter-skelter, and I started feeling serious labor pain. My neighbors had run away, and I was alone in severe pain. Thankfully, I delivered my baby alive, but the placenta didn’t come out and I went into a panic.
The 23 years old mother of three didn’t have prolonged labor, but if she didn’t deliver the placenta within 30 to 60 minutes, she might experience severe bleeding and/or infection.
We usually would burn pepper in the room to make a new mother uncomfortable so that she sneezes till the placenta is ejected. Nobody was around to help me prepare the remedy to get the placenta out as the attack was still ongoing.
A lead IYCF facilitator, Aminami Bulama heard her groaning in pain and approached her shelter to know the cause of the scream.
I explained to Bulama that the placenta was retained after the delivery when he came to my house. He then advised me to attach the baby immediately to my breast that it would help push it out. I did so and within some minutes of my baby sucking, the placenta was delivered. I was shocked but filled with joy. I didn’t know that attaching a baby to the breast immediately after birth could help eject the placenta.
Following the delivery and the return to normalcy, Falmata kept contact with Aminami Bulama. She said the lead facilitator encouraged her to join the mother-to-mother support group meeting close to her shelter.
Since joining the mother-to-mother support group, I have learned about food for pregnant and lactating mothers, exclusive breastfeeding, good hygiene, complementary feeding, etc. I breastfed my child exclusively. He does not fall sick like his other siblings that I didn’t breastfeed exclusively. Thank you FHI 360 for teaching me these things. Thank you Aminami for helping me that faithful night, you saved my life. I have never stopped telling people about the miracle.
III. Maryam gets treatment at banki IDP clinic for rare skin disease
Maryam and her mother during routine wound care visit to the clinic. Photo Credit: Gambo Hammawa AbdulQadir/FHI360
Maryam Modu was presented at the Banki primary healthcare clinic with a septic wound on her forehead oozing with pus, odor, and exposing the frontal bone. She was in pain, had a fever, vomiting with facial edema extending to both upper eyelids hence preventing her from seeing very well. On examining the nature of the wound, a diagnosis of Necrotizing fasciitis commonly known as “flesh-eating bacteria disease” was reached. The medical team agreed to refer the patient to a secondary health care facility for appropriate management.
However, Maryam’s parents, on the other hand, didn’t welcome the idea because of the financial burden to transport her to either the Mora District Hospital, Cameroun, or the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri (UTMH). There was no ambulance in Banki to support transportation to the facility. Thus, the team provided the best available comprehensive care for the patient.
With routine medication administration and wound care for four months, Maryam's condition improved. She was managed as an outpatient and the community health workers made regular visitations to ensure that the parents didn’t revert to using local herbs.
Her parents were excited as the wound slowly healed.
IV. IHANN II comprehensive nutrition and health package ensures overall mother and child health
An infant being screened for malnutrition. Photo Credit: FHI 360-IHANN II Library
Chellu Konto after two months of delivery found it difficult to breastfeed her son (Mohammed) and resulted to feeding him with powdered milk and animal milk that led to diarrhea and vomiting. Though she continued to produce milk that remained in her breast. Chello couldn’t say what the problem was but as she continued to experience pain from the swelling and her son’s health deteriorated, she became worried.
The FHI 360 team of community volunteers on active case finding in the community screened Chellu’s son and immediately referred the baby to the stabilization center for further screening and treatment. Mohammed was admitted and managed at the Stabilization Center (SC) while Chello received counseling on IYCF practices and managed for Mastitis. The team ensured that the breast was drained properly and massage.
Mohammed’s health improved, and he was able to suckle well before he was discharged from the SC.
V. The women and girls safe space.
Fatima during a conversation with the GBV caseworker in Damasak. Photo credit: Kachalla Adamu/FHI 360
At 17, I started visiting the FHI 360 safe space and participating regularly in the adolescent girls club activities. During this period, I learned about self-worth, the importance of having an education, and the consequences of early marriage. I remembered in one of the sessions, we were told the story of Fanne, a 16-year-old who was married off by her parents.
Fanne had a difficult marriage: she was mocked by her co-wife, and her husband didn’t provide for her and her baby. Though she informed her parents about her challenges, they did nothing to help her.
The story made me very sad and worried. So, imagine my state of mind when I discovered that my father had married me off without my consent and I was leaving with the husband I didn’t even know existed that same day for his house.
They had come with three vehicles to take me to my husband’s house. I cried, tried to run away, but failed. My father threatened to disown me if I didn’t go with them, so I went with my husband to the Niger Republic.
During my stay, I couldn’t stop thinking of Fanne. Then one day, I left my room pretending that I was going to do my ablution (wash) for salat (prayer) and escaped through the fence.
I didn’t know where I was going, but I kept running. Luckily, I met a woman and narrated everything to her. Thankfully, she believed and decided to help me. I lived with her for a week and then she gave me some money for transportation back to Damasak.
When I returned to Damasak, I went to my mother who was separated from my father. She was never in support of my father’s decision, so she sent me to Maiduguri where I stayed for three months.
I learned that my ex-husband demanded that my father pay back the dowry and other monies spent during the wedding. They settled it without my involvement.
Since my return to Damasak, I have continued to visit the safe space. I have learned how to make hula (hats) and that has helped me to support myself. I enjoy being in the safe space.
VI. Finding healing with other women and building resilience.
Soko Mohammed engaged during PSS activity in the GBV safe space,Ngala. Photo credit: Noah Moses/FHI 360
Parents and caregivers face an increased burden providing for their children in the harsh condition presented by the ongoing crisis. The lack of basic amenities like electricity, transport systems, roads, schools, hospitals affects businesses and income generation activities.
Soko Mohammed, a widow finds it difficult to make ends meet. The 25-year-old mother of three lost her husband during a raid by gunmen in her village, Gelibe. She fled with her children and others to Ngala and was registered and allocated a shelter in the Arabic IDP camp. She heard about the GBV safe space for women and adolescent girls during a community awareness session and visited in search of help.
Soko was counseled and enrolled for psychosocial support (PSS) activities at the safe space to enable her access support, gain knowledge, and new skills to cope with her challenges. In July, she chose knitting commonly called tumakasa in the Hausa and received skill acquisition material. Five weeks later she had produced four different materials from the twelve rolls of the thread and sold each material for 1,200 Naira, amounting to 4,800 Naira.
Today, Soko has started a small business making a local meal called Masa and can provide for her three children. Soko thanks FHI 360 for coming to her aid and helping her to become who she is today. She has since become a strong advocate against Gender-based Violence in the community.
VII. Child Protection: Supporting stable homes and stronger community
Ya Bara Baba Dungus, a Peer Education Participant with the CV at the SHLS in Ngala. Photo credit: Mohammed Hassan Kollo/Facilitator-CV
The breakdown of community structure and family support system due to the insurgency in the Northeast, especially in Borno state has disrupted children's normal activities. Children have been gravely impacted psychologically and as such exhibit violent behaviors like anger, stubbornness, and other acts of violence towards others including their parents or caregivers. Parents grapple each day with their emotions and caring for the family.
FHI 360’s child protection subsector support activities - peer education sessions, social emotional learning classes, and adolescent club activities have continued to provide children a safe place to acclimatize while healing and build their self-esteem and resilience. While supporting parents and caregivers with the skills to manage their emotions, adopt positive parenting, reconnect with family, and build a stronger resilience in the community. Some parents and adolescents share their families' successes since FHI 360 child protection engagement.
Ba’ana was a temperamental child who was always getting into a fight. He disobeys me most times, and I didn’t know if it was because of the conflict, the separation from his father when we were displaced from our village, or the challenges we experienced or his circle of friends that influenced his bad behavior. But I tolerated him as my child.
I first noticed a change in Ba’ana’s after he started going for lessons (SEL classes) and when I ask him to run an errand. He would initially say no then change his mind and do as requested.
He has changed. He does his chores though not all the time, goes to school, and does as instructed without grumbling or verbally insulting me. Also, the fighting has reduced and his relationships with other children has improved greatly. I’m grateful he spends his time at the SHLS, and he loves going to the SHLS. After graduating from his lesson, he was enrolled in the formal school and wants to join the military.