Not far from Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria, where those schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014, Miracle’s village of Lassa was attacked by Boko Haram on a Sunday morning in 2015. Miracle, her mother and 6 siblings were with friends and neighbours walking to church when they heard a bomb explode ahead, then machine gun fire all around them. In the terror and confusion, the family were separated. Exactly what happened next, no one quite knows. Much later, when the survivors came back to bury their dead, not all the victims were recognisable: many corpses were small, some identified as Mrs Usman’s children. Mrs Usman was distraught. The community searched the nearby bush for survivors, found some alive and buried more bodies. Their town was burnt, their possessions looted, their family members dead: it was unsafe to stay. The survivors left for a camp for the internally displaced in Yobe, dragging Mrs Usman with them. Mr Usman, working on a building site in another state, returned to search for his family but found only his wife. Together they grieved.
Six days after the attack on Lassa military personnel, patrollers for insurgents, found a little girl, 9-year-old Miracle, disorientated and severely dehydrated, wandering alone in the bush. They did not know which village, which attack, she had fled: so many were killed injured and displaced! They took her to an IDP camp in Biu, the closest bigger town. Miracle knew her name (Usman is a common name) and the names of her siblings, but nothing else she said made much sense. She was deeply traumatised.
In March 2016, at the request of widowed mothers and relatives, CFM brought 80 child survivors, orphaned by terrorism from Miracle’s area to Wurin Alheri for safety, care and education, Miracle among them. Miracle had never been to school and could not read or write. She remained significantly traumatised, waking in the night screaming but unable to remember the terror of her dreams, frequently incontinent at night, spending long periods in the day staring blankly before her. She would recite the names of her parents and siblings, sometimes assuring everyone that she would see them soon, at other times asking when they were coming. Miracle began school lessons and started learning literacy with the other children.
Mr. Yerima Usman had returned to his job in another state. With their family, home, farm, and business destroyed, how else could he earn money to rebuild? Mrs Esther Usman, still in the IDP camp, had almost given up hope that any of her children had survived when, in September 2016, she heard news of a little girl called Miracle Usman in the Crisis Care Home at CFM, near Jos. She borrowed money for her transport and the next day was at Wurin Alheri for an incredible reunion, with many tears of joy!
Mrs Usman spent 10 days with Miracle at CFM. Miracle spoke to her father by phone and together thanked God for Miracle’s survival. Miracle was able to come to terms with the loss of her 6 siblings. The nightmares stopped. Real recovery began. Her parents asked that she stay with CFM, where she was safe, and could go to school. Miracle’s parents collect her every Christmas and the long school vacation to go home, and sometimes her parents visit her at Wurin Alheri.
Today, Miracle is doing very well in school and has learnt very fast. The illiterate traumatised 9-year- old of 2016, now in 2023 is in Junior Secondary grade 3, aged 16, with 3 more years to finish her secondary education in English and is fluent in 3 languages. This is a massive achievement, equipping Miracle for the future, bringing hope to her parents. Mr & Mrs Usman are back in Lassa where they have rebuilt their home, farm, and business. Last year they had a setback, with thieves breaking into their home and Mrs Usman’s shop, attached to the house, stealing all their farm produce, money, and items in the shop, but they are trusting the Lord to help them rebuild yet again. They are so thankful for Miracle’s life, and for the love, care, and education she is gaining at CFM and are trusting Him for tomorrow.