Attacks on farming villages in Nigeria’s north and central regions by semi-nomadic Muslim Fulani cattle herders have devastated the lives of tens of thousands of people, blighting the future for children like Mafeng Dauda.

When Mafeng was nine years old, his mother was murdered in a Fulani attack on Bangai, his village in the Riyom region of Nigeria’s Plateau State. Mafeng does not know his father. After the death of his only parent, Mafeng lived with his grandmother at Bangai. They had nowhere else to go.

Fulani attacked Bangai again and Mafeng’s grandmother’s house was burnt to the ground. Mafeng and his grandmother were moved to a temporary displaced persons camp in a church closer to Riyom town.

Camp life was difficult; there was not enough food. It was the dry season when cold northern winds blow endless dust in from the Sahara. They had no warm clothes; there was not enough firewood; many people were ill and there was no medical help available.

It was Christmas time when Mafeng and his grandmother slowly travelled back to Bangai after peace had returned to the area. There was nothing left for them. They were forced to sleep on the floor of a neighbour’s house. That house had also been looted and little remained.

On Christmas Day Mafeng and his grandmother went to church. Then they went to the village field to celebrate Christmas with those who had been able to find their way back to the decimated village. Thankful to God for being alive, they shared the little they had. They then faced the difficult task of rebuilding and replanting.

In August this year, Mafeng, now 14, was brought by friends to our partner mission Christian Faith Ministries (CFM) to enable him to attend school again. He had not been to school since the first attack, five years ago, when he was nine. He does not care that he is in a class with eight-year-olds. He does not mind that he has so much catching up to do. He is thankful to God to be in a safe and loving environment and to be in school again.

This year, when Mafeng goes back to Bangai to spend Christmas with his grandmother he will be able to bring gifts with him, and best of all, both Mafeng and his grandmother will have hope for his future.

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