Having faced rejection at the IDPs Camp in Makurdi, many of the displaced victims have returned to their homes, mostly unsafe and often without food. KiNG JAMES YiYE reports from Makurdi, the Benue State capital in Central Nigeria.
I visit the Nyiman Layout area, one of the badly affected places due to the ravaging floods which have left anguish and pain on the faces of its victims.
Samuel Nonguun has been living here for years with his wife and nine children. He says he had spent two weeks by his wife’s hospital bed and had only come home so his teenage daughter Sewuese would go and relief him.
But when he woke-up at night to ease himself, he discovered his feet and legs deep in water.
Water Levels Gone Down But…
By the time ASKiNG RADiO visited, water levels in some parts of Samuel’s compound had gone down to the waist which made it very difficult to walk within the compound.
But we were told it was much worse earlier on the same day.
People like Samuel have been rejected at the IDPs Camp at the Makurdi International Market and he has been trying to cope with the very unsafe situation here at his largely damp and muddy house with his family of nine.
His wife is still very sick and could hardly talk when we spoke to her. She is lying down on the headboard of their damaged wooden bed using her handbag as pillow, her last child by her side. Samuel says he has spent all he has, but he still has hospital appointment in the coming week. The family’s big mattress is still wet and is being kept outside to dry, thankfully, the sun comes out almost daily in the last few days.
Looking at the children here, there is hunger on everyone’s face but there is little to feed this family. Their food with most of their livestock has been drowned by the ravaging floods which took them by surprise and unprepared, the waters had their way.
Samuel says some people (supposedly sent by Government) came to take down names of families in his area but he was not at home, so he wasn’t sure if anyone wrote his name.
Just outside, little Nguavese is trying to pick stones from a handful of rice, so she could prepare it for the whole family, a quantity that doesn’t seem enough to feed one hungry child. Two hungry chicken are seen trying to feed from this little rice but you won’t blame them, the hunger here doesn’t have pity on anything and anyone.
But after picking the stones, Nguavese faces more challenges, she is trying hard to get the fire burning with some pieces of sticks placed on a locally fabricated coal stove. The sticks look too wet to burn. But this family must eat in order to stay alive.
Other Basic Needs
Besides hunger and the mother’s sickness, this family has lots of other issues; some of their clothes too were carried away by the flood alongside their food and livestock. Sewuese, the teenage girl says, she has lost all her clothes. She is wearing a green over-sized men’s shorts which she says is the only thing available to her for now. Asked what her request for aid would be, she says whatever well meaning people think can help them will be highly appreciated by the family.
For the most part of the interview, her father Samuel stood sad and stiff, his children kept asking him for biscuit money. He is helpless and nearly as hopeless as he was few days ago when the flood met him in his sleep right under his bed.
The compound is busy with household items all over, most of them hoping the sun will help dry them up and return to what was their original form.
But inside the family’s living room, the floor is not fully dried and the walls of the building won’t promise anyone they are strong enough to keep standing in order to assure them of their safety. The small water well in Samuel’s compound has been contaminated, the flood waters mixed everything on its way, just anything from the toilet to the visiting water, all must have mixed with the water in the well.
The family depended on this untreated well as their water source, that’s not the same situation at the moment. However, here is the question of availability and desirability. When the desirable is not available, the available becomes the desirable, they say.
Samuel with his family is no doubt in need of assistance in anyway people can, his wife still sick, no food at home and no bed to lie on.
But in the face of all these, the family is happy for one thing, they are all alive.
KiNG JAMES YiYE from Nyiman Layout, Makurdi. Benue State, Nigeria.
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