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The Mbiatok community and the refugees from Cameroon
(Narrated by Pa Steve Nufanjo)

 

Mbiatok is a village situated north of the city of Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom local government area. The refugee community came to this area because of the affiliation they have with Nigerians from that community who have spent most of their lives in Cameroon. Members of the Community once lived in Cameroon, some went to look for and others as refugees during the civil crisis in 1967 in Nigeria. During this time intermarriages between the Cameroonians and people of Mbiatok took place. This has enhanced the relationship between the Cameroonians and Nigerians from this community. During the crisis in Cameroon some members of this community left to come back to where they originally came from. However, they too come as Cameroonians because they have lived all their lives in Cameroon and have very little connection to the community and the culture. They also don't have houses nor farms to help them earn a living. The difference between Cameroonians who came to Mbiatok and those who went elsewhere is the fact that some still have relatives in the village. Some Cameroonians who followed the Nigerians, now Cameroonians to Mbiatok found it easier to settle in the community. When Cameroonians from the Diaspora like the Leni Keller family became aware of our sufferings, they decided to extend a helping. They opened this training center (Leni Keller/DAC workshop) that has brought development in the community. This center has been embraced by the entire community and it is a good and successful initiative. As the authorities noticed that some training opportunities were given to members of the community, they were supportive. Other communities like Oraun, a village not far from Mbiatok are also benefitting. People come in and out, children run in and out. By the end of October, the first batch will graduate, and they are going out as ambassadors. The presence of this workshop has boasted the moral of the community and the people are happy. Life is returning to normal, and the Cameroonians feel at home here. The local people protect the place because they are aware of the opportunities this place has brought to them. We still have some challenges. Farmlands are not enough since the members of the community are also farmers. The old people also need more support since they cannot work and earn money. Health is another challenge since the UNHCR has not yet install any health facilities that the refugees can use. All in all, we are very grateful for the initiators of Leni Keller/DAC workshop. One thing that is obvious is that the young girls who are being trained are now occupied and don’t have much time to run after men and run into trouble.

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