A Library for Children in Displaced People's Camps

I grew up in Maiduguri, a city in Nigeria once regarded as the "Home of Peace" that has today become the epicenter of terrorist attacks and a siege of fear for many. My village has since been destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgency, which has raged on for over 10 years. Millions of people have been displaced, thousands of lives lost, and hundreds of communities destroyed in northeastern Nigeria where I come from.

49465290_1595590765536950_r.jpegCaption: Children at Shuwari Internally Displaced People’s Camp, Maiduguri, Nigeria.

49465290_159559294443400_r.jpegCaption: With the victims of the insurgency at the Wasa Internally Displaced People’s camp, Abuja, Nigeria.

On October 23, 2015, I visited the Internally Displaced People's (IDP) Camp in Wasa, a small village on the outskirts of Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria. I had decided to celebrate my birthday with these young children, who despite no fault of theirs had become victims of raging violence that has devastated their home-towns, taken their loved ones away from them, and left them with a very bleak future.

49465290_1595591754603619_r.jpegCaption: Regardless of their current conditions, the children at the camp were very eager to engage and interact with me.

Like me, they are indigenes of Borno State, who today have become the stereotype of terrorist groups in Nigeria due to the insurgency in the region. I noticed how we shared a strong connection to learning and teaching, evident through our curiosity to know about each other and the desire to inspire each other to engage in our own local games and fun activities. I also learned about our common passion and interest in acquiring education from how they eagerly attended lessons under the giant Neem tree in the middle of the camp, where we convened that day. But, unlike me, these children were learning in very poor conditions and they do not have access to the caliber and quality of learning resources that enabled me to dream beyond my immediate environment and strive to achieve my aspiration of undertaking research at Imperial College London, one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

49465290_1595591043527178_r.jpegCaption: Pupils at the Shuwari camp learning how to count with very limited resources.

After my trip to Wasa, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had transpired. I pondered on how I could help the talented children I met earlier in the day. Growing up, I remember being scolded for using charcoal from my mother’s cooking firewood to convert the backyard walls of our house into a blackboard because I loved teaching my imaginary students Science, Maths, and English on it. Realising that this is the reality for many of these children struck a chord within me and I thought: “No one should have to choose this kind of learning environment because they have no other choice. Every child should have the opportunity to learn and develop with quality resources regardless of their social backgrounds”. From then on, I knew I had to play my role in changing the narrative and creating opportunities for others to experience the privileges I had while growing up.

49465290_1595591237570768_r.jpegCaption: A day in the lives of the residents of Shuwari Internally Displaced People’s camp.

This is why I have partnered with the Integrated Women And Youths Empowerment Centre (IWAYEC) to provide children at the heart of the crisis in Shuwari IDP camp, located in Maiduguri, an opportunity to advance their education. With the support of the Imperial College Professional Project Fund, I have collaborated with IWAYEC to develop the Ziana Literacy Project as a platform that will promote education and inspire less-privileged groups to have high aspirations for their future. 

For most humanitarian organisations and government agencies the focus has been on providing victims with the basic necessities—food, shelter, and clothing, relegating the need for acquiring education to a dispensable role in many communities and displaced people's camps. This has resulted in a surge in illiteracy levels in the affected communities and states. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), about 2.8 million children are in need of education-in-emergencies support in three of the conflict-affected states in northeastern Nigeria.

With your donations, we can supply:
1. At least 2000 notebooks to students and pupils in the camp
2. At least 200 textbooks in science, literature, and mathematics
3. At least 100 storybooks that will motivate the children to build a reading culture and see beyond the walls of their camp
4. A Caravan Library that will compliment the makeshift educational facilities in this camp and house the textbooks
5. Other learning resources: pens, pencils, arts and crafts materials

On September 08, 2020, the world will celebrate another Literacy Day. Your donations will give children at the heart of the crisis the opportunity to see the world from another perspective as we provide them with books and a caravan library. Together, we can give this rising generation the basic tools required for reconstructing their society and changing the future.

The journey towards a brighter future for these children begins with all of us. Donate today and rewrite the stories of many children.

To learn more about this project, please visit the IWAYEC website.


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Fundraising team (3)

Zainab Titus 
Raised £719 from 14 donations
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Emmanuel Ikehi 
Team member
Raised £310 from 8 donations
Promise Ahante 
Team member
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