The story of Bardo community in rural Jigawa is an inspiring one of how determination and strength made women of the community, to come together to bring about a solution to a disturbing problem – that of healthcare.
As such a group of women with what they had, came together to contribute towards buying an ambulance to support basic healthcare in times of emergency.
In this community, women, especially those of child bearing age, have for years, lived in agony and fear as most, when pregnant have to travel for 39km to access healthcare services to aid deliver them of their babies.
The closest hospital to Bardo village is about 39 kilometres. These women are often being transported on motorcycle or carried on a cart drawn by bulls to the hospital when in labour and for other emergencies. Many who could not safely make the trip have lost their lives.
Jigawa State where Bardo community is located, is one of the states in the federation with a high rate of maternal and child mortality. To worsen matters, high cases of severe acute malnutrition and stunted growth among others, plague the state.
According to NDH survey in a 2018 report, the mortality rate of every 1,000 birth stands at 203 in the state.
Jigawa, being a rural and agrarian state with a high poverty rate, struggles in reaching out to every community in the state. Bardo village in Taura local government area is one of such communities. Experts have blamed this on low literacy levels poor healthcare indices coupled with poor economic and social standards.
Bardo community looks like any other village setting in Nigeria, with modern facilities next to non existent.
The cultural conservatism of the society is not totally missed by any first time visitor.
In spite of the lack of basic amenities, the community has a high population. Children can be seen playing and women of child bearing age with a baby strapped on her back or in her arms and of course, some women with pregnancies, their deliveries uncertain.
This has made the village a beneficiary of the Haihuwa Ladies Programme, in English called, ‘Save Motherhood’. It is an MDG programme through which the village was presented with a car, converted into an ambulance to transport pregnant women and other patients to hospital.
For some time now the ambulance has been a respite for Bardo village as well as other surrounding villages and communities, until it had an accident more than three years ago.
All efforts to get the vehicle repaired by Taura local government council has remained counter productive.
Narrating her nightmarish experience while being transported to hospital on a cart from Bardo village through the rough roads, Malama Zuwaira Kamaye of Fantai quarters of the village, stated, “ I am among those who experienced the pain of being transported on a cart to the hospital.
“ I know the pain and the agony women face while transported to the hospital on motorcycle or cart, it is not easy and I nearly died before we reached the hospital while being drawn on a cart.
“I suffered serious bleeding, the child also suffered. Thank God for some good samaritans from Bardo village who donated blood for me, I survived it and have a story to tell.
“The car we contributed money and bought, will surely help in ameliorating our suffering. Several women who are not attending hospital for delivery would be willing to go now,” she said in excitement.
The fascinating aspect of this is that most of the women who led the fund raising to purchase the new ambulance, are not women of child bearing age, but women of compassion and sympathy to the plight of others.
Halima Adamu Bardo, the chairperson of the coalition of 20 cooperative cluster of the beneficiaries of Federal Government Cash Transfer programme is in her 60s.
With no background of any formal education, Halima stands tall with a charismatic bearing and all the characteristics of a ‘MADIGA’ called natural leader. Her generosity and concern to the need of others is appreciated by every Bardo community member.
Seated in the comfort of her mud house, with a thatched roof, surrounded by trees, natural unpolluted breeze blowing from all angles, Halima Adamu Bardo told our Correspondent that after a deep consultation with Imams and other community leaders, the idea of raising funds from the social security grant was accepted.
She revealed that they have acknowledged the efforts of some youths from the villages, who contributed money to repair the old ambulance that had an accident. However, due to political and administrative bottlenecks they could not achieve the desired goals.
Halima noted that after receiving the social security grant, during the months they began to think of what they could do for the larger society, and the idea of contributing N2000 only in a period of two months by each beneficiary to buy the car ambulance, was overwhelmingly accepted.
“Today our dreams have been fulfilled, we have set a record and a reference point on how communities can join hands, to address the problems militating against them, without necessarily waiting for government’s intervention which may not come in a timely way.
“The social security initiative has made a difference in our lives. The cash transfer has raised our purchasing power and many women are now self reliant, engaged in smalls businesses in our village.
“Some may have looked at the N5,000 as small money, but to us it is big money. The capital of groundnut seller is not more than that. Similarly, the groundnut oil producer, Kunu ( Kamu) and Akara seller, Mai Awara, Mai Fura, Mai Goro (kolanut), their capital is not more than that,” Halima maintained.
In her submission, another contributor to the procurement of the ambulance, Ladi Saidu Bardo, spoke about their donation to the community in connection to the Cash Transfer programme which has raised their purchasing power.
“The problems we suffered over the years today, we addressed it through a little contribution.
“In the past, even if we want to do it, we can’t. But today the social security programme, has made it possible and easy for us. The domestic crisis has also reduced drastically due to the N5,000 intervention.”
Mrs Uwaliya Saidu Bardo who equally paid her N2000 contribution indicates, “We have done what is possible to us, now it remains for Governor Badaru to build an access road to our village, to make the transportation of goods and services to the villages very easy, including access to basic healthcare services.”
Mrs Uwaliya noted that not only Bardo community, but also other surrounding communities will enjoy the ambulance.
In an interview with the Bardo Community Coordinator Cash transfer programme Malam Musa Yusuf Bardo, he mentioned, “There are over 417 women who are receiving monthly grants in the village.”
He also noted that after payment of the two month contributions by the women, they topped it up with about N150,000 contributed by some youths for repairing the old car, to buy the new ambulance.
After the car was bought, in appreciation and encouragement to the women’s effort, a philanthropic organisation known as Nasiru Dano ( Danamanar Dutse) donated another car to the community.
Now the two cars are available for transporting men and women to hospital. To maintain and fuel the ambulance, patients will be charged N1,500.
In reaction to what the women of Bardo have achieved for their community, the Jigawa State coordinator, Social Investment programme, Conrad Bala Chamo notes that what the women did was in line with the philosophy and template of the programme.
He revealed that there are some other communities who have contributed money and repaired their boreholes, while also addressing other little problems in their villages.