Poverty, hunger, sickness, regret, rape, sorrow, misery, wretchedness, death pool; these are probably what first comes to mind when you hear “IDP camp” – or Internally Displaced Persons Camp. Well, that’s partly true, because that is what you see on the pages of the dailies, the screen of your television sets, and the timeline/feeds on various social media platforms, maybe?
Having spent plenty of time in different IDP camps recently; a part of me agrees that the IDP camp is not a place to be, a part of me also agrees that comfort and health is a stranger, sometimes; most times, actually. Nonetheless, a greater part of me is eager to share the untold story of the IDP camps – a place that is beyond just an enclave for refugees.
I am tempted to paint a picture. A picture of leaking “batchers”, of bare-footed, of scantily dressed children, of pregnant young girls, of despondent aged men. A picture of mothers, each with a baby on her back – nudging another for gift items from a relief agency. I am tempted to paint such sad picture, but I won’t. That’s if I haven’t.
An IDP camp is more.
It is a place for little children to hold hands happily and run through the green field without carrying the bitterness of who or what displaced them from their father’s land. It is a place for teenagers to learn skills like barbing, soap making, bead making, tailoring, cards making, catering/baking and every other profitable skills they have an opportunity to learn.
It is a place for young men to indeed let go of the past, to practice true forgiveness, to channel their energy productively, to restore their hope in Nigeria and to move on boldly with life. It is a place that reminds us of why we should promote harmony and the things that unite us over our differences or things that could divide us – if we permit. It is a place to listen to the stories of the elderly; stories that help us appreciate the priceless worth of peace over war or strife.
It is a place to remind us of patience, of courage, of contentment, of appreciation and the value of things we take for granted. It is a place of hope, even to strangers. It is a place to show a suicidal person two million reasons why it isn’t over, yet.
It is a place to volunteer one’s self, to engaged unemployed youths, to share resources, to network with like-minds, to find one’s purpose for living and to identify ways Nigeria can be rebuilt and become a nation we all can be proud of.
It is a place to inspire and be inspired too.
An IDP camp is a place to put together the broken bits of our lives – as individuals, as groups, and as a nation.
I don’t know what you think about an IDP camp, but I know there are untold stories about the IDP camps and other places of refuge, especially in Nigeria. And these stories can’t be told in just one article.
By Adebote ‘Seyifunmi and Alli Abiola, Abuja