Photo: © Daniel Michael
Lauratu* is a Christian cleric who was one of the first people to settle at a major displacement camp in Maiduguri, Nigeria. She has been running dialogue sessions for International Alert since July 2016.
“I was here when these young girls, who had been held captive by Boko Haram, were rescued and returned. Some people in the camp were paranoid to see them or be around them. They called them names and pointed fingers.”
At the height of Boko Haram’s atrocities, many swore never to forgive nor forget the violence committed against them. Some went as far as proclaiming that they would never live in harmony with anyone associated with the insurgent group, irrespective of whether this was through choice or coercion.
The survivors were having a hard time voicing their experiences and problems with others. They usually isolate themselves from others due to the stigma they are facing.
That’s why International Alert, together with UNICEF, are providing respected community leaders like Lauratu with the skills and knowledge needed to conduct dialogue sessions, which spread empathy and understanding for those who return.
We have encouraged the survivors to open up willingly to their peers and this has helped them recover from their trauma.
The project also provides psychosocial support to survivors and helps them realise they can still chase their dreams and be hopeful about the future. For many girls and boys, that means simple wishes like returning to school.
So far, we have helped nearly 5,000 women and girls talk about their ordeals so they can begin to move on from them. This is just the start, but with the displacement crisis in the region also creating major food shortages, the need to give them the chance to stay united and build their everyday peace together is as great as ever.
*Name changed to protect identity.
> Read more stories of communities affected by Boko Haram violence.
> Share Lauratu's story on social media using #FutureForOurGirls.