Maagaji Bana has finally found a glimmer of hope after nine long years of grief, thanks to the training and empowerment in poultry farming provided by UNHCR and its partner, the American University of Nigeria (AUN). Her smile shines through her veil, reflecting her joy and optimism about her future.
Maagaji and her family were forced to flee their village in Marte Local Government Area, Borno State, in 2014 after Non-State Armed Groups attacked. Together with many others, they endured a gruelling journey for days, sleeping in the bushes until they finally reached the Teacher’s Village IDP camp in Maiduguri.
The family had a difficult time at the camp as they relied solely on humanitarian aid, which was not always available. Unfortunately, they could not even afford a single meal per day, placing her newborn baby at a greater risk of malnutrition, which could have lifelong consequences. To make matters worse, her other children were unable to continue their education because of a lack of school fees.
Things took a turn for the worse when the Borno State authorities closed the Teacher’s Village IDP camp in 2021 to resettle the IDPs in their ancestral homes. Unfortunately, Maagaji and her family chose not to return to Marte due to the precarious security situation and lack of basic needs and services back home. As a result, they decided to stay behind and seek refuge in the host community. It was a difficult decision, as they had no means of sustaining themselves and were at the mercy of the community.
“I was in a fix when the camp was closed”, said Maagaji. “We have no house to return to, and our safety if we returned is not ascertained,” she added.
Fortunately, in 2022, the American University of Nigeria (AUN), one of UNHCR’s implementing partners, selected Maagaji to participate in livelihoods training. Following the training, she received a start-up kit to help her set up a poultry farming enterprise. This has turned her fortunes around and helped her, and her family become self-reliant.
“After my training, I was given farming tools, feed, and some money with which I bought ten chicks for a start,” she said.
Since her livelihood training, Maagaji has flourished in her poultry farming venture, purchasing more chicks and using her profits to support her family and children’s education. Each chicken she sells earns her approximately 7 USD or 3,000 Nigerian Naira, and she has already raised four cycles, adapting to the seasonal demands of the business.
With a wide grin, she shares how she and her husband enjoy slaughtering one of the biggest chickens every time they mature for a special family meal. Maagaji recounts the pure happiness on her children’s faces when they indulge in chicken and rice, a meal they had not enjoyed for quite some time.
Maagaji also has 25 four-month-old layer chickens at home, at their point of lay stage. She is excited about expanding her business as the chickens are on the verge of starting to lay eggs. This diversification of her enterprise will allow her to continue earning money in between the maturity cycles of her broiler chicken.
“Words are not enough to appreciate UNHCR for restoring joy and dignity in the lives of my family and me, after several years of pain and misery,” she says.
Maagaji is one of 400 people who have benefited from UNHCR’s urban IDP outreach and cash-based programs in Borno State’s Maiduguri Municipal Council and Jere Local Government Areas. Some 110 IDPs received vocational training, 231 received micro-business training, and 59 were trained in animal husbandry.
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