My Name is Rahila

“My bonding with women in the program has indeed been therapeutic to my healing.”

My name is Rahila Godwin and was born 22 years ago as the last child in the family of six children, at Dogon Noma in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna state, located in the northern part of Nigeria. I lost my father while I was growing up, and my parents’ main occupation was farming. They were farmers whose source of income was selling excesses from their farm products.

Although growing up was a delightful experience, due to the limited income in my family, I had to drop out of secondary school in my junior classes and got married to Godwin, my husband who is a farmer. 

My husband and I grew pepper, sugarcane, guinea corn, maize, soya bean and groundnuts. We ate from the crops we cultivated and made a living from it. Precisely, I sold the grains we grew in my community market while my husband sold sugarcane and other things. 

We were blessed with two children: a six-year-old son who is no longer alive and my four-year-old daughter.  

Life was peaceful in my village where I lived with my family until about two years ago when we started having a series of attacks by some herdsmen. We had always been spared whenever my community was attacked until the fateful day in March 2019 at about 7AM. 

On that day, my six-year-old son was sitting somewhere outside our house while I was inside preparing breakfast. My husband  was inside the house, too.  

All of a sudden, I heard a commotion from outside alerting everyone to run for safety because some herdsmen had entered and were attacking  our village.   

I quickly removed the pot of food I was cooking from the fire and tied my little girl on my back. She was a three-year-old then. I started running outside. My husband also ran to a different direction. My son was already ahead of me as we ran.  

The scene I witnessed outside was a gory one. Houses were being set ablaze, people shot and stabbed to death. We were accosted by the herdsmen as we tried to escape and before me, my six-year-old son was stabbed to death on the neck, but I continued running while my attackers chased and caught up with me. 

They ruthlessly stabbed me and my little daughter who was still tied to my back, cutting her deeply on the back and me, on my face, behind my neck. My left hand was also cut off. We bled profusely, lost a lot of blood and passed out. I was nine months pregnant then but not yet due to deliver.  

I eventually woke up to find myself in a hospital bed. My daughter was the first to be rescued by a team of security personnel while I was left behind, considered dead but was later picked up by another team.  

That same day I went into an undue labour and had my child, who died two days after he was born as a result of the terrible ordeal that led to his birth.    

While on the path of recovery, my grief knew no bonds; I felt emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically battered. I mourned deeply for my son who was violently killed before me and my dead new-born baby. I grieved deeply for the loss of my hand and the handicapped condition I have been reduced to, and the pain my daughter was going through as she also recuperated from her injuries.   

I was completely shattered upon realizing I had no home to go back to following my discharge from the hospital as my house, all my household properties—including harvested and stored food—had been burnt down. I also lost my mother-in-law during the attack, and my parents’ house was equally burnt with all that was in it.   

I was homeless and lived with my sister. A good-hearted lady learned about my situation from the social media and came to my aid by renting a room for me in a public compound where I presently live in Sabo Tasha, Kaduna.   

Rebuilding my life had been tough and rough for me without money or any source of income. I Iived on alms from people and was traumatized by my unfortunate experiences. I was always withdrawn and felt ashamed to mingle with other women because of my lost hand.  

I became cold and distant from my husband and would not talk to him or bear his closeness to me. I would always lock up myself in my room and cry. I felt so gloomy and hopeless and that was my life when the intervention of the Women for Women International program was announced in my church.   

Rahila and her daughter, Salama
Rahila standing with her daughter, Salama

My enrollment into the program in November 2019 provided me with the opportunity of having access to knowledge and other resources that have helped me to emerge from my trauma. Bonding with women in the program has indeed been therapeutic to my healing, and I now associate freely with people without feeling withdrawn or ashamed anymore.  

Apart from belonging to the Women for Women International Women groups, I have also joined my church and community women groups; I now can speak freely amongst large group of people.   

Relating and sharing experiences with all these women has been quite empowering to me. My relationship with my husband has wonderfully improved, and I am a happy woman. Presently, my husband has gone back with to his farm work but is making a very slow progress due to lack of funds to purchase fertilizer. 

I now see life with new sense of optimism, and I am focusing on starting a business selling small items of provision that would not be difficult for me to handle so that I can provide for myself, take care of my daughter and support her education as she is in school and doing well.  

I also want to help the needy around me. My sponsor’s support and what I learned have inspired that in me and I will accomplish it. I started planning towards it by saving up part of my training stipend in my bank savings account and likewise saving some little money with my group members for the business I am setting up.  I will be trained on poultry skills in the program and intend using the skill to generate more income in future.