Yvette is an internally displaced woman who ran away with her children from her home town of Ntaba in Donga and Mantung Division in the embattled Northwest region of Cameroon to seek refuge in Magba – Noun Division in the Western Region of Cameroon. She narrates that she is not educated and really didn’t know what was going on. All she could recall was that there was a general euphoria in her remote village that their lives would be better in the closest future. Little did she know it will be the turning point of her life.
“Why am I here? Why did I run away from my home? What really happened? How did I get involved to the point that I had to run away for my life?” These are some of the rhetorical questions Yvette says run through her mind when she turns on her bamboo bed at midnight pondering how she will feed her four kids and blind mum the next day.
“Though I lived in a mud house with a thatched roof on it, we managed to make it comfortable. We had no electricity and our house was void of equipment but it was full of love and laughter. My kids and I used to cultivate farms intensively, which made feeding easy for us. We also had some animals which we could sell to pay fees. With the little we had, we could make ends meet and we were happy,” she explains.
In her narration, Yvette explains how things took another turn one evening when state armed men invaded her village. As they heard gunshots, her brother went out to check what was happening and that was the end of him. They were called the next day to come and carry his corpse in a small farm not far from their home. “I couldn’t stay there after that,” she concluded with a firm voice while struggling to contain her tears.
She whisked her family out of her beloved village one early morning with a group of other villagers who packed out that day. At first, she didn’t know where she was going to. All she knew was that she had to live the place if she wanted to stay alive. After trekking a day and finally getting a car that could drop them in Foumban, Yvette then called a man she had worked for some years back who had resettled back in his home town in Magba. That was how the choice to settle in Magba was made. With just a few dresses, almost no food with literally no money, Yvette and her family had to start life anew in a strange land.
“Life here is tough; I tried opening a saloon here but couldn’t sustain it because it could not feed my family. I am now obliged to pay rents, and I work on people’s farms for a daily pay. That is how hard it takes to feed my kids nowadays!” Yvette cried out.
She confirmed that things are now better since she better understands the terrain after living there for 18 months. From the start, she explained how her children almost died of malaria and blamed it on the fact that they barely had where to sleep, hence were exposed to mosquitoes. “Promise saved my family,” she repeated severally.
Promise is the HIV-Free IDP Project coordinator in Magba. During one of their outreach activities, Yvette was identified. She and her four children were all consulted and treated of malaria. She also received a bag of rice, 10 litres of oil and some cubes of soap which she said helped her abundantly
“I desperately needed that assistance; it helped me find my balance in this strange land. Though things are still difficult, I am better off now, thanks to the assistance given to me by the HIV-Free IDP Project,” Yvette beamed.