By Nafisat Abdulkarim, The Nation
We Have Nothing, Our Hope Is In God – Widow Displaced By Boko Haram Cries Out
My name is Zainab Muhammad I was born in Maiduguri. I moved to Zabarmari village when I got married to my husband, a farmer. We have 8 children. He sells our farm produce on market days while I use to make incense for sale at our village market.
On market days then, I make like N4, 000 or N5000 especially from new brides during wedding celebrations. Then the village was attacked, our grandmother was killed and set on fire, the market was set on fire.
We were forced to flee to Maiduguri. Everything changed. We had no home, no work or means of livelihood. My husband was depressed and sad and developed heart attack as a result and passed away shortly after the incident.
How long has it been since you fled the violence?
It is three and a half years now. We arrived Maiduguri and joined other people who have fled. With the help of some of my family members, we made shelter from iron sheets and planks. We sleep there with the children. The older ones during the day go to find domestic works. When they return at nights, they take turns sleeping two or three days from one family member house or another.
How have you been coping with the responsibilities of the family since you lost your home and your husband?
We are in a very difficult situation, we are suffering. They have stopped attending school because we cannot afford to pay. I sell awara (tofu) .They are the ones who go out to hawk so we can buy food from the sales they make.
The eldest has not completed secondary school education. The other boy has paid for WAEC but we couldn’t afford NECO. He stays with an uncle of the family but he also became victim and lost everything. Now we don’t know what to do about his education.
Do what you earn cover your needs?
No sometimes we go to neighbors for help. There are days we sleep without eating. Sometime, we eat once a day or twice. When everything goes well, we make like N200 or N300. That is after pooling all the profits from all snack items sold from the children. There are days we don’t make sales. We eat what is left with the children. We also borrow or collect items on loan from shops. That is how we survive.
What type of support would you need faced with all your challenges?
In the children education, hopefully the two elder ones who have completed secondary school, if they can proceed with their education that will be very helpful.
Did you go out to vote?
What motivated you to go out to vote despite the threat of attacks in the state?
We had to go out to cast our votes so we can choose a just leader who will wipe away our tears.
How has your role changed in managing the household after the death of your husband?
He did everything for us in the house. He provided for all our needs, except where I wished to contribute. Sometime, when the children cry especially the younger ones and I don’t have what to give them or console them.
I cry but I cannot cry in their presence it will make them cry the more. When I am alone in the room I cry. Now we have nothing our hope is with God.
Do you find support from family members and well- wishers?
No, we are all affected. Everyone is affected you don’t find many help in Maiduguri. Business, work, farming everything has been affected. Whom do you call for help when everybody is struggling on their own? You will have to even sympathise with our selves so you don’t want to burden others with your problem.