From beggar to businesswoman
Fanne Haruna today looks like a successful businesswoman, with a successful food and drink enterprise to her name and her daughter enjoying life at school. But just over a year ago their future looked very different – after fleeing their home ahead of the oncoming Boko Haram fighters, the single mother of eight was forced to beg on the street in order to feed her children.
They left behind everything, and when they found a place to settle within the Gwenge Community the divorced Fanne was left without any money with which to feed her family.
“I used to go out and beg for money on the streets from people passing by,” she recalls. “I knew I had no other choice, but it was very difficult and I was always tired.”
The insecurity in Borno State in North-East Nigeria defined by the frequent attacks by Boko Haram has forced over 2 million people from their homes across the country. Gwenge is one of many communities hosting those people who often have been left with no means with which to provide for themselves and their families.
With financial support from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department, International Medical Corps is working in Gwenge Community to deliver water, hygiene and sanitation-focused projects, making clean water accessible to a greater proportion of the conflict-affected population.
As part of the projects, International Medical Corps has had its experts work to restore the waterhole near Gwenge III Primary School and put in taps to make it easier to use for community members – making clean water readily accessible to Fanne and her family.
The new water supply made it possible for Fanne to work and earn money instead of begging for money on the street. Using the new tap close to her home, she started a small business making Zobo – a local drink made of water, sugar and dried Roselle plant flower – and pancakes.
“With the earnings from selling these products I have finally been able to stop begging for money,” says Fanne. “I can now provide for my children and buy them food.”
In addition, Fanne’s 15-year-old daughter Hadija has been able to return to school.
“Every morning and evening I used to go far away to collect water and I was always late for class,” Hadija explains. “My teachers used to get angry and punish me, but I had no choice because I had to help my mom.”
With the new taps close to the school Hadija has been able to collect water for her family without travelling long distances and she says that her attendance in school has improved significantly.
“My children are so happy now,” Fanne adds.