Playing a role in building peace: Fussam’s story

Fussam* is a community leader who oversees the wellbeing of the women and girls in her community (Shehuri), who have escaped Boko Haram. Fussam is known in the community for being a 'caregiver' to the new arrivals. She goes to the gate to greet any newcomers, covers them with her wrapper and brings them to her room to feed and clothe them until they are provided with shelter.

When asked why she took on this role, she laughed and said “International Alert is my answer. They have educated me and enhanced my knowledge on peacebuilding. This is not just an intervention, it is a life changing program.”

Survivors are stigmatised when they arrive after escaping Boko Haram, in fact, they are sometimes being stigmatised unconsciously by the community who are not aware of messages around and the need to build peace.

Fussam's favourite activity is the community dialogue sessions. She said, it has brought cohesion among the displaced population and the community members because it gives everyone a voice and allows them to share their stories and concerns without judgement. It also helps them to resolve the issues they are facing together, as a community. As a result, she has taken what she has learned and set up her own small community dialogue session for women and girls and urges everyone to partake. She tells us,

I want the participants of the session to look beyond their material needs and focus on the peace message, which is the most important.

Fussam also educates women and girls on sexual gender-based violence and how to find a voice in the community. She urges women to understand their value as human beings and why they do not deserve to be treated otherwise. She holds dialogue and sensitisation workshops for women and girls’ education and awareness on the importance of moving forward from sexual violence and to be able to find peace. “I have become a role model to these women and girls and I'm glad I was able to learn from the organisation to make such an impact. This camp is very peaceful now and survivors have been able to move on with their lives.”

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*Name changed to protect identity.