Remembering the People of Borno, Nigeria
When I worked in Nigeria in 2010 and 2011, I travelled to Borno State, the area that has been terrorised by Boko Haram for the last several years. We have heard the horrible stories - of girls abducted out of their classrooms, entire villages razed, countless people murdered, and so many people displaced. Recently, this Foreign Policy story really got to me, vividly describing a desperate situation where children are dying for lack of basic medicine.
UN agencies like UNICEF need money to provide people urgently needed relief. There are a quarter of a million malnourished children, about a million people who can't be reached at all due to security, huge health needs for children and pregnant women, many children who can't go to school, and extreme pyschological trauma for communities that have seen family members murdered. In short, it's horrible. Polio has also returned to Borno, when all of us hoped Nigeria (and Africa) were polio-free.
I can personally vouch for Jean Gough, the head of UNICEF Nigeria (just recently departed after several years in the country). Jean made it her business to travel to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, when security was at its worst. With energy and intelligence, she impressed me from the minute I met her. Her programming deserves our support.
Here, I want to show some images of the children and families I met in Borno state while I was there working on polio campaigns. I want to remind everyone that the people had normal lives just a few years ago. Children went to school, parents ran businesses, communities socialized and enjoyed being together. Before the resurgence of Boko Haram, they were like all of us. When I travelled to the villages, people were welcoming and kind. I think of these people often, and I wonder what has become of each of them. Some of them are dead. I'm certain of that. But I hope that most are still living. I know they'll need help, because so much of the state has been under attack for so many years.
So, please have a look and read about these people- the way they were - and think about giving to help their lives eventually return to something much closer to normal.