From Everything to Nothing...
12th Mar 2018
Ramatou with her children in Niger.
Ramatou has four children – three girls and two boys. They had to flee from armed groups in their home village. Some of the other villagers were killed and others kidnapped, but they were lucky enough to flee. All of this happened three years ago. Since then, Ramatou and her family live in Assaga, ten kilometers from Diffa in South East Niger.
In their home village, her husband had a shop and earned a living fishing, livestock raising and farming millet, pepper and cowpea all year round. She would help her husband farming. She also made crafts to earn some more money. She made round traditional trays out of straws to sell and her children helped her. This allowed her to be financially independent even though her husband took care of the expenses of their home. That was enough for them and they lacked nothing. "When we fled we had to leave everything behind. We just thought about our survival. We had fled just with the clothes we were wearing and barefooted."
Once in Assaga, which is a displaced people site, they received tarpaulins. They used them in a way that they do not have to sleep on the ground. They built their shelter only a month later when they received mats and kitchen utensils. CARE gave her 32,500FCFA (61.10USD) for four months. With that, she bought food and condiments to feed her family. She liked this help because it really relieved her. She was so happy that she bought flour (semolina) instead of buying corn in seed. She would usually buy corn seeds to transform into flour manually. The flour was what she cooks to feed her family. This can take her an entire day of work.
Ramatou with her family's new home in Niger.
The difference between their life in Nigeria and their life as refugees in Niger is huge. "At home, we had never missed even breakfast. My children went to school. We had everything. But today, we have to wait for the support from an organization or the chief of the village to be able to eat." She lived in a house that was well built in Nigeria – in the refugee camp she sleeps in a small straw hut. "My life of before and my life today are in no way comparable because I needed nothing before. Today, I am obliged to reach out. See for yourself how my life turned upside down."
If peace returns, they will return willingly to rebuild their lost lives because here they live in the bush and are exposed to all risks. "Here we are in the bush because we have no choice. At home, we had a house, our animals, our work tools, and all. Even the cold hurts us. If we go back, everyone can become as before but it will take time. It will not happen overnight. We must all start from scratch because everything has been destroyed to the ground and all our goods have been stolen. We can stock our food for a year without worrying because we have our fields and working tools. Our animals, we raise and eat them. We will all have to start all over again."
Find out more about our work in Niger.
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