This past June, 198 women graduated from our very first class in Bauchi, a conflict-affected state in northern Nigeria. In the village of Magama Gumau, graduates lauded the program for its incredible impact, helping the women build togetherness, community and stronger socio-economic skills to help support their families. Usaina is just one story that serves as proof of our work and its impact on the women we serve.
My name is Usaina, and I am a Fulani woman from Bauchi State. The story of my life is a long one, but I will try to keep it short: 48 years ago, I was born in neighboring Kaduna State, where I grew up and got married to my husband. We were blessed with six children but my married life was not a happy one. My husband could not handle the responsibilities of fatherhood, even the simplest traditional rite of naming our children.
One Friday morning in 2002, our lives took a drastic turn. We heard commotion in the community with people running helter-skelter. I was home alone with my very sick mother since I just had my fourth baby and my husband was away on a trip. I immediately strapped my infant baby to my daughter’s back and my mother onto my back.
We ran for our lives.
We found safety inside a cave where we remained hidden for four days without food or water. When we left the cave, we came across some Fulani men, who were guarded by military men. We pleaded to go with them to safety, and they agreed to help us. The military men drove us straight to Magama Gumau in Bauchi State, where we started a new life and where we still reside today.
As a mother, I was desperate to ensure that we survived and that my children had something to eat.
I refused to succumb to distractions as I made up my mind to do all I could to take care of my children and ensure I send them to school – which I did! So far, they are all in school. Though life may not be perfect for us, God has been good to us.
I was lucky to enroll after my friend told me about Women for Women International’s program. My interest was piqued when I heard we were going to be trained and introduced to many things, and since I was not given the privilege to go to school in my youth, I decided I will go to “school” in my old age. I am so happy I have achieved that.
I have learned how to live peacefully with people – especially my neighbors – as well as living healthily in a clean environment.
I started a firewood business with my stipend, which I’ve boosted with my good customer relations. With the knowledge and skills I received during training, I can now easily keep track of my expenses and I have also adopted a saving culture. I am very grateful to Women for Women International for all they have done for me. I am now a Women for Women International graduate.
This year, we’ve set our sights on enrolling 15,000 new women into our program.
Right now, we’re halfway through the year and nearly halfway to our goal with still so many more who want and need these important social and economic empowerment skills – and we had to turn them away. We want to help every single one of them learn to support their families and businesses like Usaina has, but we need your help.
Join us to help more women like Usaina learn and graduate. Click here to help the next class of women in Bauchi state – and around the world.