Under the shade of the tin awning attached to her home, Rafiatu is curled up, sitting on a woven mat on the ground with her knees tucked in front of her. She lives in a small compound of mud and concrete shelters, with a big tree in the center. It’s peaceful here. Rafiatu gently picks at the weaving of the mat underneath her — blue and teal threads — and laughs quietly, bashfully burying her face in her red abaya before answering questions.
She lost two of her extended family members in a bombing by Boko Haram, she tells us, and her family went hungry when it was too dangerous to work or go to the market. They received emergency food from Mercy Corps through the ISING project, an initiative supported by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, to survive the emergency, and Rafiatu has since participated in I-SING’s activities to help her move forward. She went through the safe space curriculum, is a member of a savings group, participated in vocational training for tailoring, and received a livelihood grant with which she purchased a sewing machine and a jerry can to transport and sell oil.
Today her sewing machine is situated on a small desk underneath the same tin awning where she’s sitting. Two of the pieces she’s made — a purple dress and a shirt — suspend from hangers strung across an electrical cord snaking the perimeter of the awning. She has been sewing apparel for two months and is already earning income, which she uses to pay her own school fees, so she can ease the burden on her parents, and help her family buy food. But the most impactful thing for her, she says, was learning life skills through the safe space. With that education she says she better understands others and is able to live more peacefully with them, which she thinks is important in her community. She’s focusing on the future now, determined to put herself through school and be self-sufficient, so she can set a good example for her future children.
Rebuilding livelihoods, installing trust and community cohesion, and empowering the large youth population are critical to helping communities recover from the Boko Haram crisis. Though Rafiatu lost family members in the group’s attacks, she says she focusing on the future: she wants to be educated and self-sufficient so she can set a good example for others.
- 14. august 2019
- Region and Country
- Strengthening resilience of communities
- Mercy Corps