“Child hawking demeans a girl’s dignity it makes people disrespect us I hate the harassment by boys in the market, I wish I can go back to school”.
These were the words of a 18year old farmer/header clash survivor, Khadijah Mohammed.
Khadijah’s words are not unique, they are words of several girls who have had to flee for safety in different parts of Northern and Central Nigeria.
Khadijah Mohammed and her family fled from Bassa local government of Plateau state to a Fulani settlement on the fringes of Gwarinpa, the largest Estate in Africa.
These settlers in Gwarinpa said they moved because they did not want to be associated with the clashes.
In this settlement life is different, difficult and devastating. The men have abandoned their farms for menial jobs. Khadijah says they are either motorcycle riders or hired cab drivers who work for daily stipends just enough to provide little food for the entire family.
Khadijah’s father wanted to make a difference. He worked twice as hard. As a watchman at night and in the daytime he worked several menial jobs. He wanted his three kids to have a better life. Beyond food, he wanted them to go to school. He thought them about the importance of education and how it could change their lives. So unlike most children in this community, Khadijah and her two siblings attended a public school.
“My father had bladder problems and the doctor was using Syringe to take out the urine instead of a cartetar. We all knew that was wrong but we didn’t have money”
In Nigeria, only primary School Education is free. The pupils only pay Levies like PTA, Uniform and sometimes books. So Khadijah’s mother could afford this for her and her siblings. She barely managed to get to JSS3.
After Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSCE), everything became more difficult because her other siblings had to be in secondary school too. Khadijah has now dropped out of school to start selling Kunu full time to support her siblings education.
LIFE IN THE MARKET
Khadijah says she hates the market where she sells Kunu.
“I hate it when we have to go out to sell.
The boys maltreat us. They say mean things to us. It’s so demeaning, people hardly respect us. We are most times harassed and Molested by older boys. we have lost our dignity, I wish life was different “
While filing this report, Khadijah’s mother refused to talk to me. She says she is tired of talking to the media with no results.
“I know for sure that my family would give me out in marriage. What would I stay and do for them in the house? They would marry me off and it is not their fault”
“The children here are vulnerable because they do not have any form of western education they don’t see it around them so they don’t know it’s value.
This children’s day, Khadijah shares her deepest desire and wishes with us.
“My happiest day would be when I see myself back in school, God bless me and my siblings to complete school that’s the only thing that can make me truly happy. That way, the society would not look down on us.”
“In future I want to become a medical doctor. when I think about how I lost my father and 2 other siblings, I just want to be a medical doctor. I want to change the lives of my family and every poor person. The day I will be called Dr. Khadijah will be the happiest day of my life.That’s like meeting my earnest desire. I will be very happy, I want the entire Nigeria to call me Dr. Khadijah Nana Mohammed.”
There is no doubt Khadijah Mohammed knows what she wants but where will help come from? Unless help comes and quickly, her dreams will remain just a mirage.