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Survivor Series Episode 11: Aisha Bukar’s Story

My name is Aisha Bukar and this is my story.

I am 29 years old and a survivor of terrorism.

My story may be sad but it’s not the saddest you will hear, there are worse stories. Like those whose children were killed or kidnapped, so I always try to give thanks. But it’s very hard.

We ran away from Maiduguri 4 years ago to Abuja with the help of my brother-in-law who lives here in Abuja with his family.

When the war started, my husband and I told ourselves that no matter how bad it gets, we would never leave our town and our families. We didn’t know. We didn’t know that we were dealing with animals and not human beings. Boko Haram has no empathy at all. They started by killing my distant relatives in raids that started small and got bloodier by the day. I lost my uncles, aunts and cousins too, several of them. But the very worst of it all, was my grandmother. She was 85 years old, recovering from minor shock as a result of losing her eldest son and some of her grandchildren.

She had just finished praying isha prayer, she was still on her praying mat when the terrorists barged into the house carrying big guns. They shot at anyone and anything. My grandmother said to them

“You killed my son, now you want to kill me too? Are you not afraid? Do you not fear God?”

But, of course, they went ahead to shoot at her. There were so many bullet holes in her body. She was an 85 year old woman who was grieving the death of her son. What was her crime?

During a mass burial ceremony for those killed by Boko Haram, including my grandmother, my brother along with several other volunteers were murdered by Boko Haram members dressed like sympathizers. The city wasn’t safe anymore, we had to leave.

On our way to Abuja, we had an accident. Several passengers died. Men, women and children who had hopes for a better life in a different city. They were running away from death to meet death. These are the things I think about that make me feel lucky. My husband lost a leg in the accident, he can barely walk. But he is alive and that is enough for me. I have lost too much already, I can’t lose him too. My children should at least grow up with a father.

We arrived Abuja with nothing but the clothes we had on. My brother-in-law sells shoes in area 1 market. He has a family too that he has to take care of. We can’t lay our burdens on him.

My husband now goes to Area 1 market every day. He sells shoes alongside his brother and helps bring food home, no matter how little. We can’t rely on private volunteers and charity organizations alone.

School is an entirely different case. I have four children. My first child is 10, the second is 7, the third is 5 and the last is 2. For us to enrol one child in school, we’d need about 10,000 naira, which is unrealistic. The little money my husband makes, he buys food with it. We rely on charity organizations for clothes, how then can we send our children to school?

The classrooms here are scarcely full. Very few can afford the school fees. Our children just roam about in the camp from morning till night. We the women are not allowed to work. I pray things return to normal in Maiduguri, at least, there, I could sell foodstuff in the market and make money.

I still pray that my children become educated. My husband is doing the best he can, I am very hopeful.

I believe that nothing lasts forever, so this suffering will one day be history, if not for us, then for our children.

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