“Are the areas where [the teachers] are to teach secure?”

In the second in a three-part series on education in emergencies with a focus on the northeast, this interview with Abiola Sanusi, Education Specialist at Riplington and Associates, a Nigeria-based training, advocacy, research and policy organization that uses qualitative and quantitative data to aid their educative work in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. Sanusi discussed from her civil society perspective the challenge of providing education in conflict-affected areas in northeast Nigeria, how much more is needed, the military’s role, what government has and had not done, and how local organizations can help. 

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“The [humanitarian] emergency can provide an opportunity for new learning”

TAP spoke to Education Officer and Coordinator of the Education in Emergencies Working Group Nigeria Dr. Judith Giwa-Amu, who facilitates coordination among several humanitarian organizations and federal government towards improved access to education for displaced children in the northeast. This is part of a three-part series on children and education in the northeast. In this interview, Dr. Giwa-Amu shares with us key details about education sector humanitarian response through which conflict-affected children are educated, teachers are being trained, and coordination is happening among all key actors. She also tells us how education of girls is being attended to, and tells us of what is happening in terms of education to Nigerian children who had managed to flee to camps in neighboring countries. She shares her hopes for increasing school enrollment and how larger organizations can bolster support for smaller ones to further improve on delivery of education of this vulnerable population of children in the region.

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“Everybody was looking to leave Madagali, but I wanted to get my daughter back”

Hauwa Ibrahim fled her hometown of Gwoza when Boko Haram took control of the area, but lost her daughter in the process. In this interview, she shares how her daughter got captured by Boko Haram and how she and her family escaped to safety. She also talks about the Malkohi camp where she currently stays and how she and her family are making ends meet. 

This interview is part of a body interviews done in partnership between Guardian Newspaper and Oxfam Nigeria. For information on how to support local organizations working with displaced people in the northeast, reach out to us testimonialarchiveproject@gmail.com 
My name is Hauwa Ibrahim and I am from the town of Gwoza. It was the time Boko Haram entered our community that I left Gwoza.
In Gwoza town, when the attack came it was on a Tuesday evening. We all ran into our houses and stayed indoors for two days. On Thursday, we couldn’t stay any longer, because we got information that Boko Haram were out to kill only our husbands, so that’s when we set out and ran away from Gwoza we ran to Madagali. Our husbands ran and went to the hills. Some of the men went to meet with their families when things got quiet, but for me I didn’t see my husband till after another Thursday when he eventually turned up because all of us were apprehensive.
At the time the military came over to take the town of Gwoza everyone went haywire. People ran helter- skelter. My daughter who at the time was almost 12 years old ran away I didn’t know where everybody ran to because we were running. I have 6 children, and four are biologically mine (2 belong to my co–wife). At the time when the aircrafts came and they were shooting down to recapture the town of Gwoza, I decided to take these children and run away. That was when I learnt my daughter was taken by Boko Haram.
We escaped to Madagali because it is not too far from Gwoza. While we were trying to leave Madagali we now found out that Madagali has been shut down because Boko Haram had captured Madagali as well. Everybody was look to leave Madagali, but I wanted to get my daughter back. I had information that she was with Boko Haram, so I sent my younger kids to go back to Gwoza and get her so we can run away together. But my daughter had already been hypnotized by them. She said they were actually going to come and help us so we will run away from Madagali but it was obvious that they were going to hold us hostage. I decided that we weren’t going to sleep in Madagali that night. We met with someone who said he was going to help us, so we begged him to take us to the border town, and I got him a little something to give him as a thank you.
We were able to cross into Cameroon through Yaounde town. Some of their customs officers who were very nice to us; they gave us food for our children and opened a room for us in one of their offices and let us to lie down. It was there they were able to get us a vehicle to another small village not too far from there.
We were in Makolo for three days, from where we were able to get a bigger vehicle that will transport all of us. It was there I was able to get my husband’s number and I called him. He said he was already in Yola and if we were able to get ourselves out of there, we will meet him up in Yola. So they got us out there and took us to another place close to the border that wasn’t too far from Yola, then we got another vehicle that transported us to Yola.
In Yola, we got information that the people of Gwoza had a settlement community in Malkohi. That was how we got here. God has been good to us so far.
But I still have not found any information my daughter. My husband used to be a driver. He left Gwoza without anything, not even shoes. Someone got him a tricycle a keke napep (commercial tricycle) and bought 4, and that was what he was using to make some earnings with that he was able to get some money. Now the keke napep work has folded up. He bought me a grinding machine and sewing machine because that used to be my business before at home. That is what we are keeping up with now.

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“I am afraid that Boko Haram is going to come back”

We met Joshua Umaru, a farmer and member of the local vigilante unit in the hillside community an hour and a half hike up from Bazza, Adamawa State. He tells us about life in his community before the insurgency, shares his and his community’s experience of fleeing Boko Haram, and the impact of the Boko Haram attack on the hillside communities. He also talks about government’s lack of support for communities in the hillside and discusses their needs. 

This interview is part of a partnership with Oxfam International’s Nigeria office and Guardian Newspaper. If you are interested in supporting local organizations that work with hillside communities like these and others, do get in touch with us at testimonialarchiveproject@gmail.com

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“It is an act of wickedness for our government to ask people to leave camps and go back to the community that they have not fixed”

Testimonial Archive Project interviewed Peter Egwudah, Program Coordinator of Oxfam International local partner Civil Society Coalition for Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE) in Yola, Adamawa State. This interview was conducted thanks to partnership with Oxfam International and Guardian Newspaper. Egwudah has lived in Yola since 2014, and has been working to support communities of displaced people and those who have lost their livelihood and homes as a result of the Boko Haram conflict. In this interview, Egwudah talks about the relationship between local civil society organizations in the region and the military, international organizations and government. He talks about the situation facing people who have lost their livelihood due to the Boko Haram conflict, and proffers ways forward for the government in improving the dire situation facing displaced people in the region. He also talks about the cash transfer program his organization extends to displaced people and the importance of the upcoming local elections in Michika Local Government Area that was postponed for the third time at the time of this posting.

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“the scale of work being done [to support IDP mental care] is nowhere near what the need is”


Dr. Fatima Akilu is a trained psychologist with over 20 years experience. Until August 2015, she led Nigeria’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme as the Director for Behavioural Analysis and Strategic Communications at the Office of the National Security Adviser; a position she held for 3 years. In this conversation, she speaks to TAP about the challenges that Nigeria faces with its humanitarian crisis and provides insight into how Nigeria can deal with the mass trauma that has resulted from the insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast. You can listen to the conversation with on our Soundcloud widget, or read it with the lightly-edited transcript below.

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“[Boko Haram] shot his brother as they were running away, and he wasn’t able to stay and help him”

TAP interviewed some displaced people at a settlement of displaced people from Borno State located just outside Abuja. Here, we met Ibrahim, a young businessman and father from Gwoza. Boko Haram burned down his two homes. They also burned down his two cars, one of which had his life savings. With no money, he was forced to run away from his hometown for shelter.

Ibrahim’s story was translated for TAP by an English-speaking member of the community.

[Ibrahim speaks]

Translation: They were living happily. Then Boko Haram came and killed many people. They shot his brother as they were running away, and he wasn’t able to stay and help him. He had to run for his life. He had one trouser, one shirt, one slippers. He stayed here. He met others that they suffered together.

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“For somebody who has lost all that he laboured for, he will have to start afresh”

Dr. Oluwasina Olabanji is the Director of the Borno State-based federal body Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), which is in charge of managing agriculture in Nigeria’s conflict-affected northeastern zone. He has lived in Borno State since 1988 when he started working at the LCRI and has been working with farmers in the region ever since. He speaks to TAP about how violence in the northeast has affected food prices in Nigeria, how farmers in conflict-affected states have fared over the last 6 years, opportunities for agricultural development in the northeast, and what he believes the federal and the region’s state governments must do to get the region’s farmers resettled and the region’s agriculture-based economy working again. 

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“Boko Haram Destroyed My House, Burned It. I Just Managed to Escape”

TAP interviewed Mary from Adamawa State in a recent visit to a displacement camp in Nasarawa State. Mary recounts fleeing her town in Gwoza Local Government, Borno State, when Boko Haram destroyed her home in August 2014. She has been running ever since, first trekking about seven hours from her hometown in Gwoza across the border to Cameroon, then another approximately 23-hour walk from Mokolo in northern Cameroon to Mubi, Adamawa State. She ended up in a settlement for displaced people in Nasarawa State.

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“How can you drink water from the well when there are dead bodies on the ground?”

After having fled Adamawa State as a result of Boko Haram violence, this parent bemoans the difficulty of settling into a new life, especially in getting children back in school.

While you are here in Waru, as the government fights Boko Haram, what will you want the government do for you?

If I say the government is not trying, I lie. But since January, February, no one has come here to see us apart from Minister’s wife who came here last three months. But since then nobody has come to see us. The food they are giving to us, even some small things they give to us, we don’t see anything again.

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