“No mother should see her child starving.”

Lami is a woman who lost everything in the conflict and is now starting from zero in Djambouroum with her family. Photo: Rakiétou Hassane Mossi

Lami Mahamadou is a 35 years old mother of 6. She is a refugee from Baga, Nigeria. She had everything in life. Her husband, Issa Adamu, was a fisherman who made sure she never missed anything in life. She was living life to the fullest.

One night in Baga, they heard people screaming and gun shots everywhere. The town was under fire. They were attacked by armed groups. They had to run and leave everything behind. They took all their children in hand and ran for their lives. They reached Malam Fatori in Nigeria, North-East of Nigeria and 10 kilometers away from Baga. They were attacked again at dawn a few weeks later. They fled to Bosso, in Niger at the border with Nigeria, 25 Kilometers away from Malam Fatori. Bosso was attacked and they ran to Tam, 30 km away from Diffa. It started getting dangerous in Tam and they finally settled in Djambouroum, 70km away from Diffa, in the East of Niger.

Lami and her family were homeless for a year before settling down in Djambouroum. She had a lot of trouble feeding her children during that time. They would go for days without eating. “I was hopeless and powerless. Seeing my children suffering of hunger and becoming weaker day after day broke my heart. We would go several days without eating. Sometimes, when we encounter good hearted people, they will give us small food. I’d manage to keep the food supposed to feed one person for several days and for all my children. I am really grateful for them. May God reward them because without that, I would have lost all of my children today,” says Lami with a sad smile on her face and tears in her eyes.

“When we settled in Djambouroum, I was desperate and scared that we’d have to run away again. CARE helped us settle. We received clothes, body mist, soap, underwear, and baby potties. CARE also built a Child Friendly Space which is a playground and a place where children would have psychological assistance to forget their traumas. I took my children there. They were taught games and helped them overcome their trauma. They’d come home and reproduce what they were taught. More than you can imagine, it helped me too. I was more than glad when I’ve heard the CFS will give the children every morning breakfast and lunch twice a week. My children started recovering and healed,” she continues.

“Now, Alhamdulilah (we thank God in Arabic). I have received cash from CARE and with that I buy food for my family. I was able to save a little and bought a sewing machine and I tailor clothes for the community. That is my income generating activity. CARE also trained us on Gender Based Violence issues such as domestic violence and abuse, rape, and more. We were taught how to help the women overcome it,” she explains.

Lami wants to regain her old way of life so she didn’t stop there: “I’m also part of the new village saving and loans association group that started a few months here. I come from long way. I was on the verge of losing all my children, and now I’m rebuilding my life slowly but surely,” she adds with a sob.

Lami says she hopes for the future that her children will never have to be hungry again and that they will pursue their education until the last diploma that exists on earth. She finishes by telling us, with her eyes becoming red of keeping tears: “I could handle days without eating if it meant to save my children. That is what kept me going on. No mother should see her child starving. Today, seeing them healthy and playing around, that is just priceless.”

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