Some northern states’ women have shared horrible experiences about the insurgency in their hometown especially how they were forced to become beggars in another land not so familiar to them.
They narrated how fate had taken away their husbands, children, families and deprived them the joy and happiness they had previously enjoyed.
According to Trbune, one of the several women identified as Aishat Ibrahim also joined others in expressing how she had had the weight of the world sitting on her shoulders.
Aishat explained that the nightmare started one night when invaders stormed her village at Makasara in Kachia Local Government Area of Kaduna State, a place she, her husband, father and siblings had thought would provide a safe haven for them after relocating to Kaduna State to escape the ceaseless strife which was making life difficult for them in Katsina State.
She further narrated that the attackers set ablaze their houses, destroyed farmlands, rustled their cattle and many of the villagers were killed.
The 35 year old added that those that were killed included her father and husband, Ibrahim.
As the village had become desolate and life became difficult for the survivors, having been stripped of their livelihoods. Aisha, who is the first of the five children of her parents, had to find a means of survival thus began an unexpected expedition southwards towards Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
She had left her once peaceful home and boarded a truck to an unknown destination alongside other women just to seek a better life.
According to her, “It was just God that brought me here. When I left, I had no idea where I was going to. I met other women like me at the park and I joined them and here I am today.
“I was living with my husband in Makasara in Kaduna State when bandits killed him. God had not blessed us with a child. I had to leave. I came in company with other women. I don’t have an idea how my siblings are doing. I don’t know whether they have found a way around life or if they are dead,” she said.
Another Rukkaya Bello also recounted how her once peaceful nomadic life was cut short in Borno State when Boko Haram fighters invaded their settlement in Doron Baga in Baga Local Government Area of the state about three years ago.
It was gathered that the havoc done by the terrorists had left her widowed and homeless. “I came here about a year ago. It was a year last month since I came to Ibadan,” she said.
Rukkaya narrated her ordeal and how she found her way to Ibadan.
“I don’t have any children anymore. Boko Haram killed all my seven children and my husband. They rustled our cattle and abducted my daughters-in-law. I have no one left; it is just me and God. I didn’t have female children; my kids were all boys but Boko haram shot and killed them all. I was all alone and lonely, so I came here. God brought me here. After they killed our husbands and male children, they left a lot of women in the bush. We couldn’t stay in the bush without our cattle so we had to move to town.
“We were moving around with our cattle when the gunmen followed us into the bush. They killed all the men and the boys. The Boko Haram men offered them bombs and guns to attack people in another town but they refused. The Boko Haram then killed them because they would not join their cause.
“If they had accepted to be part of them, they could have been alive today but I would rather my sons are dead than living as Boko Haram terrorists. After killing our husbands and children, they said we, the mothers, could go. We headed in different directions but God brought me here. We take all that has happened as the will of God,” Rukkaya pathetically narrated.
The two young women, Aisha and Rukkaya are among several others with similar stories.
They had taken to the streets especially on a bridge in the Ojoo area of Ibadan under harsh and unhealthy conditions begging for food and money as they only survive mainly on alms and food given to them by people of goodwill.
“God usually sends Yoruba people to give us food, money and clothes,” Aisha said.
Meanwhile, these poor individuals reportedly preserve some of the cooked food they get from people of goodwill by spreading the leftovers on the bridge to dry up after they have had enough to eat and recook the dry food at home afterwards.
“We understand the value of food, so in order to avoid any waste, we dry the foods here then we wash and re-cook them when we get home,” they sadly said.
While explaining how the women cope with menstrual hygiene, Aisha pointed out that they only use rags as sanitary towel as they lack essentials to maintain a good hygiene.
Another woman Indatu Abdullahi added that, “We don’t find joy in sitting by the roadside but we don’t know what else to do. If we stay at home, who will provide for us? We could not even have chosen to stay back in the North because the gunmen continued to lay siege to our homes both during the day and at night.”
These women regularly come out to beg under the sun and in the rain to ensure survival for themselves and their children. For some of them, they still shoulder the responsibilities of their children and relatives back home.
For Zainab Aliyu, she still caters to her mother and her 11 children after her husband was killed by bandits five years ago in Funtua, Katsina State.
“Two of the children are taking care of my mother who has been bedridden as a result of the injury she sustained during the attack in which my husband was murdered. Three are with my in-laws and I have the remaining six with me. So, the little money we get from begging, I send it home for them to feed as well,” Zainab said.
Despite the high level of hardships witnessed by these innocent women and their children, they still expressed hope that one day, things would get better.