Rose is a Clark (Secretary) in the Registry Office at EYN Headquarters and the mother of 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. At the time of this story, Joseph was 5, Jeff was 2 and the twins, Joan and Joana, were 6 months old. It was Oct 29, 2014. Rose’s husband was going to school in Yola while Rose was living on the outskirts of Hildi, about 20 miles from Mubi. Rose has a small motorcycle called a Hajo which she used to drive herself to work at EYN Headquarters in Kwarhi. Hildi is about 3.6 mi north of EYN Headquarters.
She was up early that day because her twins had been fussy through the night. She had breast fed the twins and was just getting out food to cook for the older boys when she heard gunshots and bombs in the area of Hildi. She had been anxious all night because there was so much traffic on the main road. Ordinarily, it was very quiet between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. She didn’t know what was happening. She was determined to run, but she knew it would be madness to put 4 small children on a small motorcycle while she drove. As she was preparing to leave, a young man came past on a motorcycle and told her that it was soldiers who were shooting because they all had on uniforms, but the “soldiers” shot his brother in the leg so they knew they were Boko Haram and not soldiers.
Rose quickly backed one of her twins. This is what the Nigerians call placing a baby on their back and tying them on with a cloth. She then placed the other twin in her front and tied her in. She then picked up Jeff and carried him in her arms. Joseph had to walk. They made their way through the bush to Gashala (about 6 miles away). When she was leaving her home, she grabbed a package of Indomi (Ramen Noodles), and broke off small pieces to fed Joseph and Jeff with the dry noodles. They had not eaten before they left Hildi and they didn’t have anything else to eat on the way to Gashala. They had nothing to drink with them.
As they were trekking they came across a woman who had just given birth to twins in the bush. Her mother and a friend were with her. She was so exhausted from the birth process and she said she could not go on walking and carrying two new babies so she wanted to leave them behind. Her mother volunteered to carry one twin and her friend volunteered to carry the other, so she didn’t abandon her new babies. Thank God for that!
When Rose and her children arrived in Gashala, they were all exhausted, hungry and thirsty. Rose had some money, but because everyone was running out of Gashala, few shops were open so she was only able to buy some biscuits (cookies). One old woman who had chosen to stay behind in Gashala had pity on Rose. She saw that she was carrying three children and told her to come to her house to rest. Rose and her children were able to rest and spend the night in her house. She had a sleeping mat that Rose could put the children down on and she covered them up with the cloth that she used to tie them on her back and front. They finally had some water to drink.
The next morning Rose wanted to call her husband and discuss what to do. But, there was no phone service. Later she learned that the people maintaining the phone service had also run away so the generators weren’t started to run the necessary equipment to provide the phone service. She started thinking about her Hajo (motorcycle) again. Finally, she convinced a motorcycle driver to drive back to Hildi and find her brother and to ask him to get her motorcycle and drive it to Gashala to pick her up. He did that, but when her brother arrived, they checked the amount of fuel in the tank and discovered they didn’t have enough to go any farther. He also told her that she forgot to close the door to her house, so he had closed it. They all spent the night in Gashala again. They didn’t have food, but they did have water.
The next day, Rose had to send another motorcycle driver for fuel in a nearby village. When he returned, all six of them packed onto her Hajo, with her brother driving. They were able to travel like that to Fadama Rake. Rose finally had phone service there, so she called her husband. He was able to hire a pickup truck in Yola, which he sent to pick her up in Gombi. As they headed from Gombi to Yola, they picked up trekkers all along the way until the pickup truck was completely full. A massive exodus from the Gombi area to Yola was underway. Rose kept telling them that the ride was free and they should come and ride.
Rose spent one day in Yola with a friend of her husband’s. They then traveled to Gombe (not to be confused with Gombi) and stayed with her husband’s brother, where she stayed for about 2 months. Rose has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. She’s the oldest. All of her brothers and sisters came to Gombe as well, but her parents refused to leave Hildi, and survived the violence there. Rose is now staying in Jos and working at the EYN Headquarters Annex.
Rose tells me what she learned through all this:
- In difficulties, there is a way through. You just have to find it.
- You can live for 3 days without eating.
- Children sense when there is trouble. Her children learned what bombs sound like. Her oldest son still complains about pain in his legs from their long trek.
Rose is glad to be alive. Her father is a retired pastor, and Rose, too, is dedicated to EYN.