A new lease of life

On a cool evening in 2014, as Audu was at home with his family, the sound of gunshots rang out, seemingly coming from everywhere.

People in the community began to run in all directions. Audu, a 60-year-old driver from the town of Kukawa in Borno state, took his family and fled to Gajiganna, around 145 km away, where they sought refuge. They stayed there for a few weeks before returning home, judging that it was now safe enough to return.

But that safety was short-lived, and they would soon have to flee again. In fact, Audu and his family fled and returned home to Kukawa a total of four times. By the end of 2021, they had had enough, they were tired of running all the time.

Yafanta, 35, one of Audu’s wives recalls the final time that they fled. “While we were running, we turned back and we did not see our husband. We had to trek back, and we found him in a ditch. His leg was broken. We had to take turns carrying him to Gajiganna that day, it was not easy, especially as we also had to look after the smaller children.”

Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC

They fled to Maiduguri, a large city in Nigeria’s Northeast and the capital of Borno State. Unfortunately, because Audu had not received proper first aid, by the time he received medical assistance, his injured leg was infected, and his leg had to be amputated.

As displaced people in Maiduguri, they received a small piece of land from a local community leader and constructed makeshift shelter for themselves. Audu’s older children went out every day to look for menial jobs to do. His two wives would go to the markets to work as assistants for traders. This helped the family earn some money, but it was often insufficient and inconsistent.

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) opened an Urban Displacement and Out of Camps (UDOC) centre in Maiduguri last year to attend to the needs of displaced people living in host community settlements. This centre has provided support to displaced people living in the immediate environs of the city and it was here that Audu found assistance.

“I heard about the UDOC centre from people living close to our shelter. They asked me to go there so that I may get the assistance that I needed.” After he went to the centre with his wife, NRC staff registered their request for assistance and selected them to receive Multipurpose Cash Assistance.

Audu’s family, along with 50 other families received a sum of 235,270 Naira ($529). An amount they have received over three cycles of the cash support.

Photo: Samuel Jegede/NRC

After using some of the money to buy some food for the home, Audu’s family decided that they would use the rest of the money to set up a small-scale business selling charcoal and weaving straws.

Audu and his family are better off now, his sons now support him in making the straw mats and sourcing charcoal to sell. While this is a success story on its own, it is not without its challenges. While the business has been profitable and they are making ends meet, Audu hopes that his sons will be able to get jobs so that they can also support the family. For now, they are happy and hopeful for the future.

The work being done in our UDOC centre is made possible through USAID’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).