My name is Esther, I don’t feel good telling you my surname because I don’t want people reading about me and finding out who I am. I’m not even proud of what I’m about to tell you.
I came to this camp, here in Mutum Biyu where I have been living in the past one year, as a virgin. I was just 19 years old and I have also completed my Senior Secondary School education but I have not sat for JAMB or anything like that, my parents are not too rich to afford to immediately send me to higher institution, I have three other junior ones.
Unlike several other people at the camp, I am not a victim of Boko Haram, my family and I ran here because Fulani herdsmen raided our village and burnt everything in sight.
They killed the men who were guarding the village. I wish we had heeded the call to vacate the village when we heard rumours that the Fulani were coming. But my father and the other men decided not to run away from their farmlands because of the Fulani.
“This is our land, we stay here and protect it for our children’s children,” they said.
But you should see how they butchered the children and the men, they came with machetes, they came with huge guns that boomed and cracked the walls of our homes, they came and broke down our gates and raided us at dawn; they must have been more than 50 but they wreaked havoc like they were a thousand killers.
I can still hear the cries of women whose bellies were ripped open, children left with half limbs and men with their brains splattered on narrow footpaths. I can see it in my mind’s eye. It is not something you forget, ever!
My father, I didn’t see when he was attacked but my mother saw it, she later told us. She saw as they struck him with a long machete and slit his throat. My mother still has nightmares to this day.
So we were brought here, there was nowhere to go because even the next villages were not spared. So we kept moving, until we were told about Mutum Biyu.
I thought we had finally found relieve. And we indeed found help at the beginning but after about three months or so, another nightmare started.
The food supply finished, the borehole where we often got fresh water was shut. I hear the owner, who sells pure water stopped giving free water. I really don’t blame him; he has been very generous in the last few months allowing us all to take water for free. The government promised to bring water for us in tankers; we are yet to see any.
So no water for days, no food for days, we could not wash, or eat or rest properly or even work, day in and out and afterwards, some children began to die, they said it was because of hunger. Some of them were so dry, like smoked fish, they were just dying, old women, men, all were dying and the smell and flies in the camp was just too much.
For me, it was worse when I am doing my menses, I couldn’t wash or get ordinary toilet roll or clean cloth to hold my blood. It is bad!
That was when I decided to go look for food for my mother and junior ones. I went outside the camp and met with one man, he looked to be about my father’s age, my father was 54 years old when he was killed. So the man looked like a father figure. I approached him for some money to buy food so that my mother and younger ones would not die of starvation. He promised to help me because he said he knows people are just dying from starvation that the country is in serious economic wahala, even the government cannot help. He is also a contractor that brings things to the camp.
To cut a longs story short, the man said he would help me if I could use what I have to get what I needed. I didn’t even understand him at the initial stage. I was like, what is he saying?
He repeated himself then I said, Oh My God!
He wants to have sex with me!
But I was tired, my sister. I was hungry. There was no hope but to go with this man to one uncompleted building. He did it and gave me N1000, he said he would help me some more if I could come again.
That N1000 was like N100,000 in my eyes. We used it to buy food that lasted all four of us for three days.
After that, it was to go and look for the man again. And this time around, he told me I have to come every day for sex or else no money and no money meant no food.
So I went but not once did I tell my mother and junior ones how I got the money. I just told them one man was kind to me. But I think my mother began to suspect, what was I to do?
I asked the man to connect me with someone for a job, I was willing to work, but he told me he would take care of me and my family.
It was sex every day, sometimes, we met at a hotel, sometimes at someone’s house, he would just give me the address or sometimes, he would come and we would go together with him walking in front so that people will not know we were together.
I can’t count the number of times we have had sex. He is kind to me. And I feel I should please him, so I try to enjoy it.
There are times the man does not come or he will say he has no money, so I will just go to the camp officers, those ones will tell you ho ha to your face that they will not give you anything if you don’t have sex with them.
So, if that’s the way to get food and not die, I’m ready and to enjoy myself along the line
(series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)