Yadomah Mandara is the founder of the Bukar Mandara Foundation (BMF) whose mission is to move the internally displaced persons in north-eastern Nigeria out of the cycle of poverty and make them self-reliant. She spoke to ADAM ALQALI
Local and international NGOs working in northeastern Nigeria are accused of living large off the plight of the millions of internally displaced persons in the region. How different is your organisation?
I am also a critic of NGOs benefitting from the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs), instead of providing succor to them; so I can’t fault people who criticize NGOs. I know people who founded NGOs and suddenly became rich; they now own buildings and big cars. If these NGOs are doing their job as they should we wouldn’t have been faced with as enormous a challenge as we now are.
As at the last count, we have over 150 local NGOs in Borno state alone, I think there are also between 50 and 100 international NGOs working in the state, I don’t have the specific figures. There are also the UN agencies working in the region, however, their collective impact is still not enough. I am not bragging but my organization is going to be different, I having gained wide-range of experiences working for various local and international NGOs.
The Bukar Mandara Foundation was founded in 2014 however we never had an office structure until recently; we now have a great team of young people of diverse sociocultural backgrounds, who are working across our various thematic areas. The details of our future plan as an organisation will be unveiled at the day of the launch for the Foundation scheduled for June 30 in Maiduguri.
At the launch event, we are going to present to the public the projects we have already executed, the strength of our team as well as members of our board of trustees and advisors. This alone I believe will set us apart from other local NGOs because no other indigenous NGO in Borno state has done that before.
Can you give an idea of the projects you have implemented in the 3 previous years that the NGO functioned on a skeletal basis?
We have implemented quite a number of programmes including a project we call ‘Link with the Kind Heart’ under which we asked people to donate money and relief materials to us which we later distributed to the IDPs using our volunteers, at no cost. There is serious challenge of access to water for IDPs in Borno state as such we also have a water drive project under which we had sunk a borehole at an IDPs camp; the borehole was serving about 19,000 people before the displaced began to return to their communities. There is also a food drive under which we go to communities to deliver food aid to IDPs especially during festivities such as Eid al-Fitr and Christmas.
There is also the Back to School project we are implementing in partnership with two other nonprofits i.e Umma Global Foundation and Feed the Needy. We also have a health project under which we paid for the medical bills of a female IDP called Falmata who had a fracture; there is a mental health and trauma aspect to the health project since there are currently many people in Borno who are traumatized and undergoing depression.
As a trained environmentalist I have passion for climate change, therefore environment and climate change is also part of our mandate. The climate situation in Borno is very dire right now; it is very hot as a result of the impact of climate change and our hope is that the Bukar Mandara Foundation will nurture a generation of young people that will work towards conserving the environment. So, the Foundation’s areas of focus are quite broad but we have a competent team of people that will be able to make our vision a reality.
How do you hope the formal launch of the Bukar Mandara Foundation will help strengthen your capacity do deliver on your mandate?
The Foundation has since inception in 2014 been ran with my personal funds and that of my siblings who have been very supportive; this is not sustainable, no organization is run like that. And that is why we are unveiling the organisation to give the opportunity for people to see what we do and if they wish to support our work in whatever way they feel they can, they will be able do so.
We are as such inviting to the launch event people in government, professionals, religious leaders, development partners, as well as our friends and families. We are also inviting the media and social media influencers whom we believe will help amplify the work we are doing. I therefore hope the formal unveiling will help us get partnerships and strengthen us to deliver on our mandate.