Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) Volleyball Club player, Jummai Bitrus told www.aclsports.com that her plan for 2022 is to teach Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) specifically girls the game of volleyball.
The former refugee shared with www.aclsports.com reporter, Dare Kuti how share escaped from the claws of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists and wandered in the thick forest for days before making it to Burha in Northern Cameroon.
The Nigeria number one Libero said she stayed in Burha Camp for 7 days on the same clothes and undies in the cold nights and at the mercy of the harsh weather.
Aclsports: Congratulations on winning the 2021 Nigeria Volleyball Premier League, how do you feel?
Jummai Bitrus: I feel excited because I am lifting the Nigeria Premier League for the second time. My team won our first title at the 2019 Nigeria Premier League and winning it again means we are champions in Nigeria. Due to the COVID-19 in 2020, the Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF) opted for the Super Cup and as God will have it, NSCDC won the title in the women’s category.
I give God all the glory because without him, I could have not achieved such feat with my team.
Aclsports: What are your plans for 2022 volleyball season?
Jummai Bitrus: Asides play the league and representing the country when called upon, I plan visiting the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in Yola, Adamawa state capital to teach young girls between the ages of 5 to 12 the game of volleyball. I also intend organising a volleyball clinic to teach the basics, rules and guideline of the game to young girls that indicates interest.
I am yet to get sponsors but I strongly believe that my plans will be executed. I know what it means to be in the IDPs camp, I have been there before and I want to add value to the lives of the young girls.
Aclsports: Talking about living in the IDPs camp, can you share your experience?
Jummai Bitrus: It was indeed an experience, but I will rather refer to it as a trauma. I also want to give God all the thanks because it was not all of us that experienced it that are alive today to tell the story. By the grace of God, I am here today hale and hearty to recall the traumatic invasion of Mubi by Boko Haram in 2014.
It all happened in the early hours 27th October 2014, when Boko Haram terrorists invaded Mubi town. Then, we were writing our final National Diploma (ND) exams at the Federal Polytechnic Mubi and before we knew what was happening, the whole town was in turmoil. Tension was high and there were apprehensions hanging all over the community. We were constricted within our school premises since nobody knew what the situation in town was.
The only sensible option left for us was to escape into the nearby bush, knowing fully well the dangers of that option as well. Fortunately, it was during the raining season, so the grasses were high and so were the crops. These served as a shield of a sort and those that were able to make it through the farms were safe from the invading monsters. However, some of our students couldn’t make it out alive from the bushes. (May their souls rest in peace). Out in the wilderness, those of us that were lucky to have escaped through the farmlands continued our journey into an unknown destination
Aclsports: What an experience. What was running through your mind during your unplanned journey in the land of the unknown?
Jummai Bitrus: The Law of the Jungle was activated in us (SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST). We walked and walked through days and nights before we finally found ourselves in a village called Burha in faraway Cameroon. On getting to Cameroon, we were taken to the refugee camp (Burha), where the Cameroonian Soldiers were at hand to receive and shelter us. Sadly, though, because of the situation in the Camp, we were offered only medical services and water. We were left to feed ourselves and for those that don’t have the money to feed themselves, they remained hungry for days and were eventually left at the whims and caprices of the haves.
I stayed there in Burha Camp for 7 days on the same clothes and undies I arrived the Camp with, in the cold nights and at the mercy of the harsh weather. At the Camp, I became a prayer warrior, hoping and believing that help will come from above. Eventually, the Cameroonian soldiers started making transportation arrangements to move the Nigerians to Garoua, a Cameroonian town close to Nigerian border.
The arrangements were of course at the expenses of the individuals that could afford the fare. And for those that couldn’t afford the money, the only option was to sneak into the available tipper trucks (at individual’s risk) because once caught in the act, the consequences were severe beating by the soldiers. Some do get caught once in a while.
Aclsports: Were you able to pay your way back to Nigeria?
Jummai Bitrus: Unfortunately for me, I had exhausted almost all the money I had on me on feeding. The little I had left could not pay for the transportation to Garoua. I found myself in a dilemma, whether to remain in the Camp and suffer severe hunger or risk the truck option and wait for the consequences. It was an option between the devil and the deep blue sea. Considering the risk analysis, I chose the truck option and to God be the glory, I arrived Garoua safely without being caught by the soldiers.
On arrival at Garoua, we spent the day and part of the night at an open space, waiting and hoping against hope. We never knew what lies ahead of us in an attempt to return back to our fatherland. Then at the wee hours of the following day, under the cover of slight darkness, following the description and directives of the villagers, we proceeded to somewhere safer at the Nigerian border where we were all left to go our separate ways. I finally arrived Yola, the way and manner, to the warm reception of family and friends. Traumatic experience indeed it was.
What God cannot do, does not exist. To those my school mates that lost their lives in that attack, and to all our troops that paid the supreme price defending the country, I say, may your souls continue to rest in peace and may your sacrifices not go in vain, AMEN.
Aclsports: Thank you for sharing your life story with us
Jummai Bitrus: You are welcome. I had to share it to the world because I celebrated the festive period in Adamawa state and saw the young girls at the IDP’s camp. This motivated me to come out and let the world know we can engage them through sports.