At just 12 years old, Falmata has been forced to flee her home a staggering four times. In her short lifetime, she has endured an unimaginable journey of hardship, loss and suffering. Luckily, it also takes just a few seconds to help displaced people like Falmata.
Falmata contracted polio when she was younger which left her physically disabled. But she doesn’t let her physical disability hinder her. Instead, Falmata is fearless and courageous. When asked, “What are you the most afraid of?” Falmata responds, “I am not afraid of anything.”
Falmata was born in Banki, northeast Nigeria, and lived with her parents, grandmother, brother and sister. Her father was tragically killed by an extremist group that incited violence against Falmata’s family. When the group attacked her village, Falmata’s mother decided that Falmata should flee to Cameroon with her grandmother. With Falmata on her back, the two reached safety in Cameroon, which served as a place of refuge for them both for three months.
When Falmata and her grandmother returned to Banki, she found that her brother and sister had also fled because of the violence. To this day, Falmata still doesn’t know what happened to her sister.
Any hope that Falmata could live with her mother and grandmother in peace was broken by a further attack by the extremist group which forced her and her family to flee. Though the family found safety in a neighbouring village, the attacks continued, forcing them to flee yet again. They stayed in the second village for 10 days but desperately wanted to return home to Banki. Falmata and her grandmother made the journey back but were struck by grief when they found out they had also lost Falmata’s mother. Now it was only Falmata and her grandmother.
When the extremist group attacked Banki for the fourth time, there was no going back. Falmata and her grandmother were rescued by the Nigerian military. They brought them both to a camp for internally displaced people. But sadly, Falmata’s grandmother passed away in the camp, leaving Falmata to fend for herself. Falmata remembers her grandmother fondly, “I miss my grandmother. She was the one that carried me.”
When asked what she missed most about her parents, Falmata’s sense of loss is immense, “If I think about my mother and father, I can’t sleep, and I cry.”
Despite everything Falmata has endured, she is still dedicated to her education and hopeful for the future.
Falmata tells UNHCR, “I pray to finish my studies and find a good job.”
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For the latest facts and figures on displaced families around the world, visit the UNHCR data portal.
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