This lovely girl named Alheri, 11 years old from Nigeria has experienced what could be the worst possible incident imaginable. One night in 2010, the village where she was living was attacked, killing both of her parents. Furthermore, hundreds of her neighbours, friends, and acquaintances was slaughtered. But Alheri miraculously survived.
The memories of the first time I arrived to this village is burned into my brain like it was yesterday and it made an indescribable emotional impression on me. I had studied genocide, but never been so near to this reality before. Yes, I have been to the concentration camps in Germany. But this happened so recently! It is still going on! Religious groups are even today attacking villages and parts of the city Jos, murdering and injuring hundreds of innocent people. And sadly, very few from the outside know about it.
During my research for my master thesis in the same village, I was told by the leader of the community that the remaining people in the village is now sleeping in the nights together in a house that is lacking two walls. Furthermore, they always have two guards watching out for intruders. This due to that they are afraid of being attacked, again. This way they have a bigger chance of surviving if it should happen. However, sleeping without walls and mosquito nets lead to a high risk of malaria, leading to sickness and deaths. Houses, schools and health facilities, was that night made to ruins, and the community was begging for help from the outside for building the mentioned.
Then, back to my meeting with Alheri. For me it was difficult to think that the mentioned cruelty had happened to this charismatic girl that loves school and have big dreams. Alheri lives in an orphanage called “Kingdoms Kids Klub”, with many other amazing children with the same destiny. Some of them are even HIV-positive. I remember well the first time I entry to the orphanage and all the children came running for give hugs to me; A complete stranger. Moreover, they argued of who could sit close and hold my hand the whole day. Every day it was the same! The orphanage was founded by Sandra Chikan. A strong and dedicated woman that also early in her childhood became an orphan.
Yes, so you might wonder: Why are villages attacked? The answer is complicated. However, simplified, there is a conflict between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. The conflict is hardest hit in Plateau State and Jos, due to that is where the Christian South and the Muslim North of the country meet. Though the conflict is bounding in more political reasons than religious. While many people say that the Christian village of Alheri, was attacked due to murder of cattle of the Muslim and ethic group Hausa-Fulani, and that this provoked the attack. For a Hausa-Fulani is the killing of a cattle worse or equal to the killing of his or her own son. As in many other African countries the conflict is also related to scarcity of land.
So what did I personally learn from the story of Alheri? At first it made me doubt humanity and kindness of people. How can people slaughtering, raping, and injure innocent people. Without thinking. Without conscience. Just because they have another religion than you. However, with time I have processed these thoughts, and I do not have this view anymore. I still think that most people could be manipulated to do horrible acts like this. But this do not mean that there is no kindness in the world. Look at the founder of the orphanage, Sandra, which devote her whole life to help these children. I rather take these kind acts like a inspiration, rather than the evil people do to each other.