This is the story of Hannatu Adamu (not real name) from Gwoza town – a GBV survivor – a beneficiary of Neem Foundation’s Healing through Expression program
In 2015, Hannatu and her family were busy with their daily routine in the house when they suddenly heard sporadic gunshots. She heard people screaming “Boko Haram! Boko Haram!” As the gunshots were getting closer, they ran out of the house unprepared with nothing except the clothes on their backs. Everyone in the village ran in different directions.
“It was a day I will never forget, the day I got separated from my mother and all my siblings”.
Escaping the trail of devastation in Gwoza, Hannatu along with other community members arrived at a host community called Madagali in Adamawa State. They spent 3 days in Madagali without any support or assistance, so they decided to travel to Maiduguri in search of safety and a new home.
When they arrived at Maiduguri, a good Samaritan and his family took them in and assisted them with food, shelter, and clothing. Hannatu stayed in the house for 5 days where she coincidentally met one of her neighbors from Gwoza. He offered her shelter as she hoped to reunite with her family. She stayed with him for 5 months but unfortunately, her mother and siblings never came.
She came across her guardian and his family who were also residents of Gwoza before the misfortune. They asked her to move in with them. After a couple of months, the family told her they were tired of taking care of her and she had to find another place to stay.
“At that time, I barely knew my way around Maiduguri”
During this hopeless period, Hannatu met a young man who was very kind to her. He heard of her story and he offered to marry her. Being in such a vulnerable state, Hannatu agreed because she had nowhere else to go. Unknown to her, the man was not who she thought he was.
A few months into the marriage, she got pregnant. She became a victim of domestic violence as her husband frequently beat her. He also failed to provide for her basic needs like food and did not take care of her despite having the means to. She eventually had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy.
“Every time I wanted to leave; I remembered I had nowhere where to go.”
Hannatu eventually had two sons and was constantly abused by her husband. Sometimes her husband took her children away from her and prevented her from interacting with other people. He also seized her phone and locked her up in the house.
In Bolori Community of Maiduguri, where the Neem Foundation Healing through Expression team in collaboration with UNFPA were supporting Gender-based Violence victims and survivors. Hannatu came across one of the Neem volunteers and was informed about the program. Following her experience during the past few years, she showed signs of anxiety and distress.
“I am always idle, and it kills me even more.”
After several counseling sessions and interventions, Hannatu is more hopeful and her relationship with her husband is improving. She has decided to learn how to sew in order to become a professional tailor. Her husband is in support of this decision and they have also agreed to engage in family planning methods for the next three years so that she can have enough time to focus on her tailoring career.
Written by: Yacine Deribe.
Edited by Habiba Dahir