Furaira’s daily struggle for life in Gongulong refugee settlement
Furaira Ali Feli, a 35 years old lady, happily crafts fishing nets in front of her self-built shelter. ‘’At least I now have time to do some small business again, since I don’t have to continuously look for food and firewood anymore. I sell my fishing nets to the local fishermen. Each fishing net gives me 50 NGN. I sell approximately 20 fishing nets per month.’’ Furaira says it with a smile on her face.
Furaira’s former husband was killed in the insurgency by Boko Haram. In November 2017, she fled from her local village Kushibi to Gongulong, a relatively safe place for her. ‘’They killed some of my family members and friends without reason, burned down our houses and took some of the children with them. We had to run. My home is nearby (approximately 20 km from Gongulong), but I can’t go back now.’’ Furaira sadly explains.”
I am now able to prepare food at least twice per day.
Furaira is part of ECHO II project and therefore receives a cash grant each month. So far she has received 3 cash grants for her whole household, each grant worth 38,800 NRN (approximately 97 euro). For that money, she takes care of herself, her second husband (Furaira recently remarried in Gongulong) and 8 children, of which 2 children are younger than 5 years and 6 children are in the age between 5 and 17 years old.
Our children came first
‘’I am extremely happy with the cash grants. The most significant change in my life is improved feeding of my family. I am now able to prepare food at least twice per day. Before the project it was already hard to get food only once per day. Me and my husband, we experienced days where we didn’t eat food ourselves at all, since as parents you always allow your children to eat first. There was nothing left.’’
From the last cash grant Furaira bought maize, rice, millet, spaghetti, beans, maggi, fish, meat, salt, pepper and milk. The items are bought on Gomburu market, a market in Maiduguri City. Furaira explains she goes there once per month, since certain items are of better quality compared to the local market. Also, there is more variety of items. She often shares transport costs with other ladies, so she spends limited money on transport.
Besides food items, she used a small part of the grant for washing soap, firewood and wrappirs, which are local skirts. Lastly, she spends part of the money to start a small awara business. Awara is a local delicacy, made from soy beans, and loved by many people in the community. And what about the investment in fishing nets? ‘’The materials for the fishing nets I collect myself. Those businesses keep me alive’’, she explains.
‘’From my first cash grant I had to pay off many debts. I was so happy with that money, because I had to buy all our food on credit before. I was not able to pay back anything. My children were begging for money to get some food. It was tough.’’
Before, I had to go into the bush to collect firewood. I was always afraid to be attacked by men or snakes.
Besides improved food security, Furaira’s risk to face gender based violence is reduced significantly due to the project. ‘’Before I received cash grants from ZOA, I went to the bush to collect firewood. I was always afraid to be attacked by other men or snakes. Now, I don’t have to go to the bush any more.’’
Furaira is also involved in community life again. She just came back from cleaning the communal latrines and borehole area, a task she took responsibility of. ‘’I want to be part of my community, and improve our situation together. You know, life is not easy here. Many people still fall sick here or die. Diseases are never far here.’’
Praying for peace
So what are Furaira’s future plans? ‘’Once my home village is peaceful again, I want to return. I want to continue living with my family there. I want to save money to restart my small tailoring business, which I had to abandon due to the insurgency. Due to the insurgency I had to sell my tailoring machine. Now I sometimes lend a tailoring machine from a friend, but I want to buy a new one for myself. I just want to take care of my family and give my children a future.’’
For now, Boko Haram is still active in the area. Furaira keeps praying one day her village is safe again.
The project Furaira participates in, is funded by Echo.