As part of our efforts to empower women affected by insurgencies in the North East we held a three-day workshop on Dissemination of Alternative Narratives, Trauma Counselling and Skills Acquisition for Women in IDP Camps,” which took place from Saturday 24 – Monday 26 October, 2020 at Damaturu Islamic Centre, Yobe State.

A total of 60 beneficiaries were selected from different affected communities. These women were selected based on their poverty status, their lack of trade skills, and also those directly widowed by the insurgency. The selection was made by CSOs resident in the state and who are well known to them through their intervention: these are Federation of Muslim Women in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Women in Da’awah and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN). There were 5 facilitators and 3 supporting staff, a technician and photographers who worked as a team.

The agenda for the first day of the workshop started with opening remarks, workshop objectives, registration and data collection; this was then followed by a trauma counselling session due to their situation and state-of-mind; and the lastly, a group brain-storming and presentations from what they learnt.

The second day was for skills training where they learnt three skills for income generation: how to make a simple face-mask sewn with needle and thread, liquid soap and pomade. They learnt all the skills with passion.

The third and last day was for the dissemination of Alternative Narrative and distribution of seed money, devices and finished products from skills acquisition. After the dissemination they were grouped through random selection where they brain stormed and presented their take home from the Alternative Narratives. After the distribution, closing remarks was made by Saadatu Hashim who is the chairperson of women committee of Dar Al Andalus and lead for the concluded workshop. She urged them to use the seed money for income generation only and the device to remind them of what the learnt from the lectures presented to them and share with as many people as possible.

Lessons learnt: The beneficiaries of the training workshop were 99% illiterates who could not even write their names with neither of the spoken languages due to lack of education but they showed anxiousness in starting the income generation activities due to poverty. They now have the zeal to allow their children to pursue western education apart from Islamic education. Before they left they consulted with the facilitator on how to buy the raw materials for production of liquid soap and pomade as they can buy fabric for facemask from fabric shops in Damaturu.