Zara* is 13 years old. Having lost her mother and to escape further violence from Boko Haram, Zara fled her home and is currently living in Muna Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, with her father.
At a tender age, Zara fell in love with a young man resulting in an early pregnancy. As a young mother, her life now took on a different dimension. She had to cope with the reality of caring for her child and deal with the stigma of being pregnant at the age of 12. Zara felt isolated from her own father and community. Her friends abandoned her because of the shame associated with the unwanted pregnancy. Her experiences made her feel suicidal.
"I felt like I didn't smell good or I looked ugly, because everyone was running away and hated me," Zara goes on to say:
I didn't want to be alive at one point because I could not stand the amount of bitterness I received from everyone in my community
Zara was identified by a community leader to attend a support session for women and girls in the IDP camp. Here, she was made to feel comfortable with her peers. She and her father were also referred to a family support session aimed at reconciling separated family members. It was after this session that Zara’s father realised that he had to pay more attention to his daughter and support her closely whenever she needed help.
He told us, "Zara is very young, I admit that I was supposed to give her more support with what happened to her. Her mother was not here to watch her and I was supposed to take the role of both parents. I don't blame her for what has happened anymore."
I realise that it has happened, and I need to support her so that something worse does not happen.
"This is why I decided to call the family of her child’s father to help support my daughter, and together we are doing a good job."
"I am so glad to have gotten the support from International Alert. They have given me hope and that has given me the courage to nurture my child in the best way I can. I will forever be grateful to them for their unconditional love and concern," says Zara.
Zara and her baby are in good health and, with the support of her father, she is beginning to smile once more.
*All names were changed to protect privacy