15-year-old Umiri Aga is one of many Nigerians who have been forced to leave home due to years of conflict in North-eastern Nigeria. Young girls are especially vulnerable as the armed group Boko Haram has kidnapped and raped tens of thousands of women and girls or forced them into marriages.
Umiri took refuge in a camp for displaced persons, where she now lives with her grandmother, her sister and her two cousins. Many families in the camp have no income and depend on food supplies from the Nigerian state. But the rations are small and at the end of the month, many families are out of food.
Umiri's family had to look for alternative ways to earn money and find food. Umiri used to take a great risk: she would leave the camp to look for small amounts of food in nature or gather wood to sell, although armed groups occupy parts of the area, exposing Umiri to the risk of being kidnapped or abused.
Today, Umiri’s life has changed. Donations from the Danish national charity collection, Danmarks Indsamling, enabled DRC to help young girls and their families set up a business. Umiri participated in the project and received business training, mentor advice, and a start-up capital of 800 DKK.
With the help, Umiri opened her own little shop in the camp, where she sells food supplies. She earns about 5 DKK per day, but it is enough to cover her family’s basic food needs. She can even afford medicine for her grandmother.
Umiri and her sister and cousins no longer need to leave the camp and risk being kidnapped, raped or forced to marry militia soldiers.
The project has benefitted a total of 600 young girls and their families.
“The financial safety puts the families in a much better situation. They have stable access to food, and they no longer need to take risks. It also means that more young girls and their siblings get the opportunity to go to school,” says Project Manager Mette Steen Petersen.
45-year-old Zara Mustapha’s daughters are some of the girls who now attend school instead of working. Zara is a single mother of four and lives in a refugee camp. Previously, Zara and her children had to work for local farmers to be able to afford food. When everyone worked, they earned a total salary of 2-3 DKK per day.
Today, Zara’s children do not need to work. Zara is also one of the women who have started their own business to become self-sufficient. Now, the children can eat three meals every day and attend school in the camp instead of working all day in the field. Zara is therefore very grateful for the help from Danmarks Indsamling and DRC:
“My life has changed because of the support.”