When seeing this report I was struck by how the words spoken by a Nigerien mother can assimilate to those of a mother from here, in Ticino, despite hundreds of miles away and the totally different conditions of life: “my youngest children go to school because I do not want them to get lost (in life) “. However, in the case of the Nigerien mother, “to get lost”, means to become a fighter and commit crimes.
Here’s what another mother says in the reportage: “I do not think the militia who attacked us have ever gone to school, otherwise they would not have done all this”.
For these mothers, school becomes the only possibility for granting a better present and a better future for their children: school as a safe place for their children, as a supervised and protected environment; school as a therapeutic place for their children, which helps to forget and treat psychological traumas caused by the massacres committed by the Boko Haram militias; school as a place to cultivate and open one’s mind, become aware of one’s life and be conscious.
“Last year our kids could not attend classes, but here, students feel safe and have so much desire to make up for the lost time that even we teachers have found the courage to accompany them.”
With the outbreak of the crisis in North-East Nigeria and the consequent arrival of thousands of refugees fleeing the Boko Haram attacks, the international COOPI network has been assisting victims escape from violence in over 65 villages through Psychosocial Supporting Devices.
In order to appropriately elaborate the terrible situations experienced, psychological first aid and refugee reception activities were carried. Furthermore, dialogue and support groups to promote solidarity and social cohesion have been implemented.
Numerous educational interventions for primary and secondary students, refugees, natives as well as internally displaced people are currently underway.
Photo: Archivio COOPI