Jessica’s testimony of livelihood support
By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Life was sweet and everything going well with her and family until bandits struck.
She never saw it coming, neither did her husband envisage an attack that has since escalated into full blown terrorism.
Kuyero community in Birni Gwari LGA of Kaduna State was a peaceful and very safe place, that was while her family moved from their home state of Benue to the community to farm, which is her husband’s trade.
Farming business was booming and life was beautiful for the young couple, until one sad night (date not mentioned), during the peak of farming season in the year 2020, when bandits attacked Kuyero and Jefaru, two neighboring communities.
Attacks in Birni Gwari area have been ongoing for a long time with no serious response by the government to curtail it. Initially the activities of the perpetrators was treated as mere cattle rustling and it was later seen as activities of illegal gold miners.
The activities of these daredevil men continued for a long time around Kamuku Forest in several border communities, between Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger state, until 2015 when governors of the aforementioned states met in Kaduna to plan an action.
Their action never yielded any reasonable success and terrorists saw the forest as a safe haven from where they plan and unleash terror on innocent rural people along that axis.
30 years old Jessica Nyiekaa, is a mother of four kids, whose household was affected by one of the early attacks in Birni Gwari area in the year 2020. Jessica, a tailor, was enjoying her marriage with her husband who is a farmer at Kuyero, a farming community where they lived.
She never imagined that such an attack could happen in such a local community that used to be so peaceful and safe, but to her greatest surprise the daredevil men struck.
“I was surprised that night and everyone was confused, they invaded the village that night, robbed many of us and left with about four people. Though we have been hearing about attacks in other areas far from us, but I never believed they could come to our area.
“Even when we thought that was going to be the end of it, another one happened and it gradually became something regular, and my major fear was my kids. Whenever they entered the village, they beat up people, steal from them and even take girls with them,” Jessica recounted.
The trauma she said, made them abandon their farm and everything they had worked for, including her sewing machine and ran for their lives to Kaduna metropolis for safety.
LIFE IN KADUNA
In Kaduna, things became difficult according to her, and there was no more source of livelihood for them. She and her husband started struggling with life, their children were out of school and feeding them was a serious challenge.
“We were practically living on nothing because we came to Kaduna empty,” she recalled.
“So the next year which was 2021, things were still difficult and one day, someone told me to go to KADSEMA (Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency), that they were registering those that were displaced as a result of the attacks, so I went to their office and I was registered for the support programme.
“I waited for a call from them throughout that year, nothing happened until I forgot about it. I even thought they didn’t call me, maybe because I am not an indigene of Kaduna State, so I let it go,” she explained.
Jessica and family continued in their struggle for a source of livelihood and things got harder for them, the husband, whose only trade is farming, had no where to farm because they now live in the city, the menial jobs he started engaging himself in, was not enough to feed his family, let alone pay their children’s school fees, so for months, the children remained at home.
“At some point, I took them to a school and I agreed with the owner of the school to be paying in instalments, but most times, I was not able to meet up with the agreement and they kept dropping out and would return whenever we were able to raise something,” the mother of four, narrated.
A PHONE CALL FROM KADSEMA
She noted that on a faithful day in the month of August 2022, she got a call from the office of KADSEMA, inviting her to come and pick up a sewing machine as part of measures to ameliorate her hardship as a result of the displacement.
“I thought the call was from fraudsters, because I had completely forgotten about it. So when the caller mentioned sewing machine and also mentioned KADSEMA, I tried to recall, but it was difficult for me to even understand what it was all about.
“But I told my husband about it and he said we should go and try, so he went with me, and behold, it was true and I was handed a brand new sewing machine by the Executive Secretary, Muhammed Muazu Mukaddas,” an excited Jessica said.
LIFE, FEW MONTHS AFTER RECEIVING SUPPORT
“I am glad that I have not only been able to put food on the table for my family, my children are now fully back to school,” she confessed.
Jessica, who expressed joy about the August gift, said, “I shed tears of joy when I got the machine because I knew it was the end of suffering for me. As I speak now, three of my children are in school, except the last one, who is still very small.
“Things are really different now, I must tell you the truth. Even though I don’t have a shop yet, but I have been getting jobs to do from neighbors and other people in my area.
“I have even gotten a small contract from one school who gave me their school uniforms to make and another school have also invited me to come for their own, so I really thank God for using KADSEMA to deliver me out of hardship.
“My prayer is for them to succeed in all they do. My perception about them, especially the agency has changed completely, I now know their selection of beneficiaries is beyond tribe and religion, but humanity”.
JESSICA’S DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE
She hopes to grow her business into a big fashion house and also train people who are displaced and people without means of livelihood for free as part of her way of giving back to the society in showing appreciation to her benefactor.
“I am already saving some money for shop rental, and when I am able to get it, I will get some other people and train them for free, especially those displaced like me.
“I can assure you that I will grow my business into a big time fashion house, where I will have big fashion design equipment, few years from now,” she added.