By Ekpali Saint
It was 10 a.m. on May 16, 2018. Eunice Simon was at home with her four children when she heard screams.
Confused, Simon came out and saw dozens of Fulani herders afar who had invaded Jwak, her village in north-central Nigeria.
“They were more than 100 and they were with big weapons,” saud Simon, 35, who was pregnant at the time.
Immediately, Simon instructed her children to come out of the house while she moved around a few houses to call out other children and old women. She then gathered and asked them to start running toward the neighboring Kirana village.
The raid is part of a years-long land war in an effort to occupy it with herds of cattle. The raiders, however, do not represent the larger Fulani tribe that counts as many as 10 million members in Nigeria. Instead, they are a militant faction driven either by Islamist fanaticism or material greed.
Simon is not alone. Thousands of internally displaced people are now living in camps that are not habitable. But the Emancipation Centre for Crisis Victims in Nigeria, a local nongovernmental organization, is providing support to victims of attacks in the country.
In Simon’s case, she could not run any faster. At the same time, her husband had joined other men to work a tin mining site in the village that morning. But she kept moving slowly.
After some minutes, a stray bullet passed through Simon’s right breast, leaving a scar. As she kept going, a Fulani herder who had sighted her from a distance as she was running ordered her to stop.
“I did not stop so he shot me in my (left) knee, and I fell on the ground,” Simon recalled.
Simon then spotted some men and called for help. They came and quickly got someone with a motorcycle to take her to a hospital in the Mangu district, about a 30-minute car ride from where they were.
When they arrived at the hospital, the medical personnel quickly dressed her wound to stop the bleeding. A few minutes into her treatment, Simon went into labor and delivered a baby boy she later named Bamkinan “because I survived only by the grace of God,” she said.
Produced in association with Religion Unplugged