Halima* was just 12 when an attack on her hometown started a tragic sequence of events that would end with her strapped into an explosive vest, desperately seeking help.
In one night, an armed group stormed Halima’s village, killed her parents in front of her and abducted her. The teenager was trapped with the people who murdered her family. “It was very difficult. They were beating me, they refused to feed me, so I sneaked around to find leftovers from their meals,” she says.
Halima says she cried so much that after five days the group wanted to get rid of her. But she wasn’t free: they put a vest with an improvised explosive device on her, told her to run and push the button when she saw people. She didn’t listen - instead trying desperately to find a safe place until finally, she came across an armed man who took the vest off.
Now, Halima lives with her extended family and receives counselling to help her recover. She’s determined to reclaim a peaceful future and UNICEF, the children’s charity on the ground in Nigeria, is determined to help. Thanks to our passionate community of Global Parents here in Australia, we can be there for children like Halima with psychosocial support and a way to learn through crisis. This year, we need to help 7,000 children in Nigeria who’ve been captured by or involved with armed forces to recover and reintegrate into their families and communities.
(*name changed to protect identity.)
What would you do if children around you were orphaned by a deadly disease?
Despite their own suffering, some survivors of Ebola had the opportunity to become a lifeline for children orphaned by the virus. After recovering, some patients bravely took on the most important job in the world: caregiver.
Kavira and Richard were among those carers. They both had antibodies in their systems that protected them against re-infection, which meant they could safely join the UNICEF-supported nurseries that opened next to Ebola treatment centres in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Children in the nurseries were monitored for signs of the virus and had daily medical checkups; but they also received love, emotional and psychosocial support from people like Kavira and Richard who had been cured.