By Mariam Aliyu

My name is Mariam Aliyu, I am the Executive Director and founder of learning through skills acquisition initiative (LETSAI).

Every good citizen wants to do something for their nation, and that includes me, growing up in various parts of Nigeria and seeing the dysfunction at many different levels, I’ve always told my self that when I grow up, I’ll like to change the way things are done and also contribute my own part to bringing about positivity in my society and country at large. I’ve always considered myself as a humanitarian since when I was a child.

While growing up, and now as an adult I always try to safe guard public property to the best of my ability as my own contribution to national growth and development,  I also try to respect other citizens and always maintain/obey law and order. I have always believed that whatever positive change I want to see in Nigeria, I’ll will have to become a part of the change.

I know that I alone can not change the country, but I know that I can contribute my own part to the development and upliftment of other citizens and by so doing, I’ll contribute and do something for the nation since the citizens as a whole make up the nation and empowering the citizens means empowering the country.

I attended the University of Maiduguri and while schooling there the Boko Haram crisis broke up. Lives were lost, properties destroyed, futures were shattered, dreams and hopes turned bleak and empty. The devastation and the pains were so much and too unbearable for most people.  The situation was so bad that people were running away from Borno state in very large numbers, I left at a time but decided to go back and contribute by part to nation building by building those who had lost it all. Many people advised me against going back but I was determined after seeing the devastation and hopelessness.

I went back to Borno state, went round and saw things for myself and decided to help out by doing something instead of just crying and wailing, which will change anything. Doing something will have an impact, so I decided to do something. I went back and registred an NGO called  learning through skills acquisition initiative (LETSAI). I did this because I know that empowering the people through skill acquisition is the only that that can really make a difference in their lives.

LETSAI was founded in 2015 with a focus to assist victims of war in northeast Nigeria with livelihood support, psychological therapy and social support. I established it and with the help of other people we have been going round the north east and rendering the needed support and assistance to many people.

Most of the people living in the North East were farmers and since the Boko Haram crisis began going to the farm was no longer possible because boko Haram always attack farmers on the farm and abduct them. So the people needed some other forms of things to do that will give them a source of livelihood apart from farming. Others were house wives with no skills and education that mostly depended on their husbands who died as a result of the Boko Haram crisis.  So we had to help them and teach them other ways to earn a living for themselves different from farming so that they can be able to take care of their themselves and their children.

From the year 2015 to 2017 we trained and empowered over 1000 women from Bama, Konduga, Gazumala, Damboa and Jere local government of Borno state in Bag making using hide and skin of animals, Briquette making, soap making and tailoring. We also trained them on financial literacy so that they could properly manage the businesses, we also established market linkages i.e. between them and the consumers of their products and so far it has been a great success, the women have been able to provide for themselves and their children as a result of the skill acquisition we taught them.

In April 2017 we started our awareness raising project on gender based violence In response to the rampant cases of rape in Borno state. The boko haram crisis at a time lead to rampant cases of rape in the state, girls and women lacked family protection and became very vulnerable to attacks from rapist, but due to our work, women and youths in abusive homes and the society in general started coming forth to report cases of gender violence and rape and also seek for support to end violence against women and girls. Shelter, medical assistance and psychological support were provided for many victims in the state whichis still on going.

In March 2018 to 2019 I started a go green project where we distributed  over 3000 seedlings to be planted in each homes in some parts of zamfara state to combate the desertification that was gradually encroaching some parts of the state. We did this in order to respond to the climate issues and to also preserve the ecosystem, strengthen better health condition and longer life span for the peple and the generation to come. So far the tress have grown without problems and the program was a success. We are still planning on doing more in Yobe and Sokoto states which are also suffering from desert encroachment.

In December 2019 till date we selected a group of 100 youths in the North east to be trained on phone repairs, electrical service technicians and tie and dye, so that they can be able to fend for themselves.

My humanitarian work has made a difference in the lives of many and to the general society and environment as a whole.
As a patriotic Nigerian I always try to promote harmony and the spirit of common brother/sisterhood among all the people of the country where ever I go and in whatever way I can. These are some of the things I’ve done for my country as a loyal and patriotic citizen.

(c) Mariam Aliyu 2020