Boko Haram: Stories of two girls who became midwives

In war-torn Gwoza, Borno state, two remarkable girls, Mabruka Manu, and Maryam Abubakar Musa, emerged as beacons of hope and resilience. Despite the devastating impact of the Boko Haram insurgency on their lives and education, they defied the odds and became registered midwives.

Their inspiring journey from displacement and despair to fulfilling careers are a testament to their unwavering determination and the power of education.

Mabruka Manu was born in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, while Maryam Abubakar Musa was born in Katsina, Katsina state but raised in Gwoza Local government area of Borno state. Both ladies, as with thousand others, had their quest for education truncated by insurgency.

However, an NGO called Girl Child Concerns, GCC, provided them with a lifeline, offering opportunities to realise their potential.

In 2018, GCC with support from MDS’s Merck for Mother trained over 300 girls from various communities in Borno state (largely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency) to become Village Health Workers (VHW). The goal was to address the pressing maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) needs in these areas where many health workers had left due to the Boko Haram insurgency, leaving women and children with limited access to healthcare.

Among the trained VHWs were Maryam and Mubruka, whose dedication and resilience stood out. With support from Borno State Government, GCC further trained over 500 VHWs and equipped them with essential skills, including training as Per Mother’s Support Groups for Infant and Young Children’s Feeding serving as supportive supervisors, and encouraging them to pursue further studies, leading to their qualification for the Foundation Year Program (FYP) initiated by Women for Health.

With the support of their loved ones and overcoming financial obstacles, Maryam and Mubruka’s journey eventually led them to gain admission to the College of Nursing and Midwifery in Maiduguri, where they began their inspiring path toward becoming Registered and Licensed Midwives.

In 2020, GCC continued its mission to empower women in rural communities by organising a training programme for health workers, including Maryam and Mubruka, alongside nearly 100 others to address the challenges faced by rural women in providing basic health screening, counseling, and management of common ailments.

Through this training, participants learned good infant and child feeding, promoted immunization, and provided referral services. Maryam and Mubruka’s involvement in this initiative showcased their commitment to their communities’ well-being, as they acquired the necessary skills to support and educate mothers on proper infant and child nutrition.

The stories of Maryam and Mubruka exemplify the transformative impact of GCC’s initiatives on the lives of young women and their communities in Borno state. Through their training as Village Health Workers and their subsequent journey to become registered and licensed midwives, they have become invaluable assets to their communities, offering crucial healthcare services and expertise, where it was previously lacking.

Additionally, their involvement in the “Mother Support Group for Infant and Child Nutrition has furthered the cause of empowering rural women and enhancing the health and well-being of their children.

GCC’s dedication to uplifting and supporting women in the healthcare sector continues to bring positive change to Borno state, fostering a brighter future for its women, children, and communities as a whole.

Maryam Abubakar Musa, who faced numerous challenges in her journey, including the horrors of the Boko Haram insurgency, displayed incredible determination and commitment to education.

Despite setbacks and low examination scores, Maryam pursued her passion for healthcare, eventually graduating with a diploma in chemistry education. Her perseverance paid off, and she successfully graduated, ultimately landing a job in her chosen field.

These fantastic stories of Mabruka and Maryam serve as shining examples of resilience, determination, and the pursuit of education against all odds. Their unwavering commitment to their community exemplifies the best of humanity.

They highlight the importance of providing educational opportunities and support systems to individuals from marginalised areas affected by conflict, proving that resilience and dedication can overcome any obstacle on the path to a brighter future.

The journey of Mabruka and Maryam is a source of inspiration not only for their community but also for countless others facing similar challenges. Their triumphs showcase the transformative power of education and the impact of collective efforts from NGOs like GCC and Women for Health.

These stories remind us that even in the darkest times, hope can prevail, and with the right support, individuals can overcome adversity and achieve their dreams. Recognition for their remarkable achievements arrived when Mabruka and Maryam were offered jobs at the Ultra Modern Police Hospital in Yobe state.

Their inspiring narratives, shared through a Girls for Girls phone-in radio programme initiated by Girl Child Concern in collaboration with Education Cannot Wait and UNICEF caught the attention of a good Samaritan. Their employment not only solidifies their career paths but also serves as a testament to the power of their resilience and the impact of their stories on others.

Lawan Bukar Maigana,
Communication Officer for Girl Child Concerns, GCC,
Borno state
[email protected]