Under the scorching sun, Adama looked exhausted. The 56-year-old mother walked all night to get to St. Theresa’s Catholic Church before dawn. With help from faith-based organizations such as the Adamawa Peace Initiative, the church distributes 25 kilograms of maize and 200 Nigerian naira ($1) every month to displaced Nigerians who have sought refuge in Yola, the capital of northeast Adamawa state.
Adama was one of more than 4,000 women who gathered at the church that day, hoping to receive much-needed assistance that could help their families survive for another month. Up until October 2014, she and her family lived in Michika, a town 232 kilometers north of Yola near the border with Cameroon. That month, Boko Haram militants attacked her village, burning it to the ground; Adama’s husband was killed outside their home. She grabbed some clothes and ran into the bush with her children and other villagers.
“We hid in the bush for two months. We spent days without food and our children were getting sick,” she told Devex in Yola. “We have lost our land and our homes. If we don’t get food from the church we have nothing to eat. Only God knows how much we suffer.”
Since the beginning of the insurgency, more than 10,000 people have died, at least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted, and over a million have been forced to flee their homes. Some 6 million Nigerians meanwhile are in need of humanitarian assistance.