On the 2nd of January 2015, I began a new unending journey. Wole Shoyinka Center for investigative journalism invited me to do a documentary on women in Nigeria. And I accepted to #Reportwomen abuse and issues of access in Nigeria; we selected 9 states for the documentary film and head towards the Northern Nigeria to document Abduction, Displaced women and girls and poverty.
The field trip ended on the January 30th, 2015; but the experience continued to haunt my nights. Therefore, I decided to return to the Northern part of Nigeria where girls are especially hard-hit for 6 years by Boko Haram insurgency.
While I was interviewing the victims, my tears runneth over, but I decided that I will not only document their plights; I will solve the problems that is solvable by myself and my sisters; I promised the girls that I will come back to rescue them from the shackles of oppression by the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.
The girls did not believe me, they did not believe that they will go back to school. Their education is no longer on their parents priority list anymore.
Due to my harrowing experience of watching Northern Nigeria girls victims of Boko Haram roam about aimlessly, after my field trip on report women in Nigeria, I began a campaign to send some of these girls back to school, so I tagged the campaign; #sendnortherngirlsbacktoschool and #touchinglives on facebook.
My chosen camp to take off, was the Hwollaza community in Zaria Road, Plateau State, Northern Nigeria. Why? The displaced girls are living with anyone, any household, any families that accept them and this is dangerous, in addition, these girls roam about the community day and night. This, I believe is dangerous because of sexual abuse and sexual harassment of these young girls; it cannot be ruled out.
The displaced girls in Hwollaza fled from Adamawa, Borno, Yobe and Plateau States Northern Nigeria.
My new journey fully began in March, I went back to Hwollaza to distribute my Re-washable sanitary pads to the girls because they begged me to give them pads and pants and detergent to wash these ladies’ essentials; I raised the support from facebook and my World Pulse sister; Helayne Gaither funded my trip back to Northern Nigeria.
During my second trip to Hwollaza, as earlier promised to the girls in January 2015, , I was surprised by the fact that the girls were shocked by my return visit. One of the displaced girls summoned courage and moved closer to me, she said; “aunty, you came back to Hwollaza” I smiled, and replied; Yes, I came back as promised. The girl smiled and responded “we never believe that you will come back to us, many people came here, they promised to help us, but they never came back, we thought you were like the other people” I was moved to tears, but I told her that, the people who promised but never came back are still trying to organize, coordinate their activities and raise funds to support them, I will always come back to visit them, I reiterated my promise.
During my second visit to Hwollaza, I had a meeting with the Displaced people’s coordinator, community leaders and also met with the proprietor of a private school in the community. He is Mr Lasisi. I begged him to reduce his school fees so that we can return these girls back to school. He agreed. He reduced his school fees by half.
The reduction in school fees made it easy to fundraise.
In March ending, my World Pulse sister sent a mail to me that she wanted to start a scholarship for school children and I told her about the Hwollaza girls who are displaced by Boko Haram. Luckily for me, she agreed and she caught the fire of Transformation, joined my campaign too. Another of my sisters who also caught the fire of my campaign is my sister Motunrayo Alaka, the coordinator of Wole Shoyinka center for Investigative Journalism.
Both women became the backbone of this campaign. They want these girls back in school. Boko Haram cannot destroy the future of these innocent girls. We cannot continue to fold our arms while our leaders are also watching these girls roam about night and day. My sisters raised scholarship for 26 girls within 2 weeks.
On the 6th of April, 2015, I began my journey back to Northern Nigeria again; this time around; I travelled down to Hwollaza with the school bags, school sandals, socks, note book, Mathematical sets, Pens, Pencils, erasers and school fees of all the girls who were formally in Secondary schools in their various States before the displacement.
Why did I make secondary school girls the priority? Because they will be forced to marry if their parents cannot solve their problems anymore, displacement during Boko Haram insurgency has dispossess every affected people of their human dignity, possession and peace of mind.
Can you imagine the joy of these girls when I arrived in Hwollaza on the 7th of April (Hwollaza is a 2 day journey from Lagos where I live) The were so happy that they could not contain their joy and the girls jumped on me, that I loss my balance.
The rest is now history; 21 in secondary school were given scholarship by #Igilandi. In addition, 6 girls in Primary school level have also secured scholarship from 6 sisters online. Now, I can proudly say that; My joy runneth over!!!
Isn’t this amazing? It is ABUSED TO ASSETS; TRASH TO TREASURE!!!!
This campaign has shown to me that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE.
Presently, we have thousands of Northern Nigeria girls roaming about in Displaced camps scattered all over Northern Nigeria, its been more than a year; we cannot continue to watch these girls, let us join hands together to save these girls.