My name is SAFIYA. I hail from Esu in Menchum division. I was whisked out of my village as a result of the ongoing crisis in the North and South West regions of Cameroon. The non-state armed men had turned our homes into their military base. Since our houses were beside the road, State armed men always passed around shooting at these houses. We ran into the bushes with the intension of coming back to collect our things someday. Unfortunately, our houses were burnt to ashes and we were obliged to leave the bushes after three months of perching there to another location. Thank God we had taken along our certificates into the bushes, which were the only assets we left with from our homes.
When we left Esu, we settled in Wum and started a small business. The constant Ghost towns made us to run out of stock and definitely out of business. Unable to survive, our three brothers who were already in Bafoussam asked us to join them.
I really miss my village! While there, anything I wanted to eat, I could just harvest them behind the house. Here, anything you think of eating, you have to buy it. It’s been 18 months since we left our home town. I sometimes feel homesick though I know I can’t go there anytime soon. The non-state armed men perceive us as traitors and refer to us as people with no home. I wonder if they can ever allow us to live where we consider as home.
These guys walk their talk, they already killed my uncle in a cold blooded manner in broad day light in front of my younger brother. This uncle of mine was the driver to the Commander of Brigade in Wum, hence he was considered as a “blackleg” and was watered down with six bullets. The enmity now between the Fulanis and Christians in Esu is deep. The boys killing us are our school mates, childhood friends and people we considered as brothers in the past.
When the struggle started, it was just a fight for freedom, but later turned into a war of settling scores. Many innocent people are dying, thousands are suffering. I’m really looking forward to the day that a lasting solution will be proposed and peace returned in my country and home town in particular. While waiting for that day to come, we are fighting hard to stay alive in a land we are learning to acquaint ourselves to.
“To help us navigate this new terrain, the HIV-FREE IDP project assisted us with laudable gifts – a bag of 50kg rice, 10 litres of oil and 20 cubes of soap. These things helped us a lot. And we pray that God should help them to continue helping other vulnerable people like myself. I also pray to one-day be a donor as well,” SAFIYA notes.