Good day, my name is Aisha, I became a widow because of religious violence. This is my widowhood story.
It was early on a Thursday morning when the extremists started burning down houses, shooting and killing the people in my village in far northeastern Nigeria.
My husband was preparing to go inspect one of his farms and I was about going to the market where I sell when we heard the gunshots. It was too late before we could escape.
“We should get out of the house, or they will come and kill us here,” my husband said.
I quickly strapped my baby to my back and we made our way through the door of our house, thinking the gunshots were still a bit far from us. Unknown to us, the entire village was already surrounded by those who laid ambush on us.
As soon as we got to the gate, the gunmen shot me in the arm, I saw my husband falling at the same time in front of me, he was shot in the chest. I fell to the ground and holding his hand…….
It was hours before the whole village calmed down again. There was wailing everywhere, I survived the ambush with my baby boy, but my husband didn’t make it. He died right in front of me. I couldn’t scream out because I was scared the gunmen would come back for us. I spent a long time wishing the bullets took my life as well that day.
Even though it is customary for the family of a murdered man to take care of his widow and children, mine was different as the real agony began after my husband was buried alongside other victims.
Instead of providing comfort and compassion, my husband’s families exploited me in my grieving state.
After my husband died and peace returned to our town, my in-laws began to frustrate my life. They wanted me to move out of our house so they could profit from it by selling it. They consistently abused me and told me to go back to my parent’s house. After months of battling them, I eventually gave in and tearfully left the house with my child.
At that point in my life, I was hopeless, alone, filled with anger, bitterness and grief. I was ready to take my own life and that’s when God’s mercy found me.
Hope for the widow
I was told by a fellow widow that I could go ask for help at a worship centre which was a bit far from our village. My husband and I were devout Muslims when he was alive. But through this contact, I went to the worship centre for Christians and was invited to participate in an open counselling program, where I joined a group of widows with similar stories, God started to sow the seeds of healing in my heart from that day.
The way they spoke with us and showed concern for our plights was beyond human love. My husband’s family never showed any concern for me and his child. But these people who I barely knew showed me love and care.
Months later, all I could say was “God, You are indeed alive!” and I knew my husband’s spirit was watching as well. Now, when I count my loss, I also count my blessings because of the help I received. I was empowered to become an entrepreneur, I found a new family, compassion and hope for the future.
Joy and hope…
Before, I didn’t have anything. I just gave up my mind to die. But now, my life is changed. They helped me with food and my child’s schooling while I found my feet again. They changed my story and I count myself among the privileged few widows in my community who got another chance to live a meaningful life.
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