By Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya
(This article was first published in February 1, 2017)
What stood out for me in the interview SI Magazine had with a Borno elder statesman, Alhaji Ibrahim Bunu recently, on the plight of displaced persons on the IDP camps as they fled their homes, was this gory image of a mother who was hysterically running away from an invading army of terrorists. She was holding onto her child fiercely and running for dear life. When she paused in the bush path for a minute to catch her breath and check on her child, was when she realized that what she was holding on to was only the child’s arm.
In her trepidation and panic, she had grabbed the child with such a force in order to save him from the marauding gang of terrorists that she didn’t realize the force of the pull had severed the child’s arm from the rest of his body, unwittingly leaving her child behind. Now the dilemma is how or where would she go back to start looking for the remains of the child, when she hardly can tell how long she has been running or where she was at that point in time. Imagine the pain the poor child would have been in, the state of mind that blocked the cries of the child from the mother, the futility the mother would feel upon her realization.
It is unimaginable, the untold horror and torture that women have endured as the conflict raged. Only God knows the scale of inhumanity that was meted out to the women in the conflict zones of the Northeast. In crises situations like war and unrest, the most hit people are always women and children. These set of vulnerable people naturally became of interest to the SI Magazine team, and they zoomed in their lenses on the suffering of these set of people, the easy victims. A visit to some of their camps illustrated a tiny glimpse of what their daily lives are characterized by. Their stories are heartrending. It would pull at your heartstrings when you watch the documentary made out of it. Yet, these women are carrying on, ‘mothering’ as usual, staying strong with bellies full of heart-rending stories of their survival.
The term motherhood means different things to different people and it wouldn’t be fair to give a universal definition to it. ‘It is not uncommon to generalize the concept of “motherhood” and lump everyone who upholds a single criterion – being a mom – into one group. But, really, motherhood affects us all in one way or another and that way is as unique as the pattern of curves and ridges on a fingertip’ Doublexscience
These women have gone through all kinds of maternal anguish and most of the babies experienced fetal distress; having babies in unsanitary conditions or raising these children in these same tormenting conditions isn’t what anyone bargained for.
No child should go through this. The mothers look on forlornly watching the days go by, not knowing when their children would be able to get better care or go back to school. Wondering about when this whole madness would end and whether going back to normal life is still realistic in their lifetime. Most of them, naturally, expressed their desire to go back home.
At the time, most of the women did not have access to medical personnel; doctors or midwife who would identify signs of their fetal conditions or observe if their baby is unwell, or when a mother is in labour and isn’t coping well with the demands of labour, when or how it may be called fetal distress.
Motherhood is stressful and is a distressing period of a woman’s life even when she’s in her comfort zone surrounded by all the luxurious amenities that life can offer. To be in a displaced habitat is the most upsetting condition any woman can find herself. Thus, there’s an innate need and crave for all these women in maternity situations to go back home and we plead to the general public and the government to please give a hand to these people and help them make their life easier, show a little kindness and concern to these people especially the women and children by visiting them and showing love and care. The pregnant women need medical care and food to keep them going.
We also appeal to the Government of these communities and the Government of Borno State, to kindly start designing an effective reconstruction agenda or work plan for the people that would enable easier transition back to their homes; they need psychologists or therapists that would help them handle the traumas they have experienced; a post Boko Haram resettlement process.
They also need business consultants and advisers that would school them in starting an enterprise even if its farming and how they can explore all the opportunities that farming can offer them. They need temporary homes and board and the provisions of raw materials that they can rebuild their homes and community. They need experts’ medical personnel that would check their medical status especially the women who had been raped and abused in various ways.
Let’s not leave all these in the hands of the Government alone. Let’s put our hands together as a people; put a uniting front to help these people after all they didn’t ask for this.