Musings of a Ruga Girl: Resilience : The Key to Survival


“No one escapes pain, fear, and suffering. Yet from pain can come wisdom, from fear can come courage, from suffering can come strength – if we have the virtue of resilience.”

For the past month, I find it had to use my digital device due to the horror I witnessed by the contents, the dead’s of children, of women and men, the destruction of densely populated buildings, how they still smile and laugh, I couldn’t define that resilience, though I was grew up in a conflict environment, I still couldn’t understand the depth of their resilience and patience, a lot of questions were popping out of my head, how has the people of other conflict areas develop their resilience from Ukraine down to my country, who suffered dearly due to the insurgence of Boko haram.

Life is unpredictable and filled with challenges and adversities. From personal setbacks to global crises, our ability to adapt, recover, and bounce back from adversity becomes a defining factor in our survival. Resilience, the capacity to withstand and recover from difficult situations, is a fundamental trait that empowers individuals to navigate through the stormy seas of life.

The concept of resilience has captured the attention of many audiences as an emerging paradigm for understanding vulnerable populations, as interest are now focused on the ability of countries, communities and households to efficiently anticipate, adapt to, and recover from the effects of potentially hazardous occurrences in a manner that protects livelihoods, accelerate and sustains recovery, and supports economic growth.

Resilience is not an innate quality, but rather a skill that can be nurtured and developed. It encompasses emotional strength, mental fortitude, and the ability to maintain a positive outlook even in the face of adversity. Resilient individuals possess an unwavering determination, an ability to adapt to change, and the courage to persevere through the darkest of times.

The power of resilience lies in its ability to transform challenges into opportunities for growth and self-improvement. Resilient individuals view setbacks as temporary and surmountable obstacles, rather than insurmountable roadblocks. They actively seek solutions, learn from their experiences, and continually evolve as they confront and conquer life’s countless hurdles.

For all those living in war zones, they have to develop resilience and an unwavering determination for survival, especially children who are exposed to this brutality of war and evil. Making them more vulnerable and affects their mental health and if not properly taken care of, will lead to depression and sometimes suicides.

One of the most significant aspects of resilience is its impact on mental health. Numerous studies have shown that resilient individuals are less likely to develop depression, anxiety disorders, or other mental health conditions in the aftermath of traumatic events. This heightened mental well-being allows them to process difficulties more effectively, find meaning in their experiences, and maintain a sense of purpose even in the most trying of times.

Resilience also unleashes our creativity and innovation. When faced with adversity, resilient individuals think outside the box and explore new possibilities. They are open to change, adapting their strategies to fit the situation at hand, and finding innovative solutions to problems. This adaptability not only aids in survival, but also opens doors to new opportunities and personal growth.

Moreover, resilience impacts our ability to build and maintain meaningful relationships. Resilient individuals understand the importance of seeking support from others during challenging times. They build strong support networks, composed of family, friends, and mentors who can provide guidance, encouragement, and a shoulder to lean on. By nurturing these relationships, resilient individuals create a safety net that helps them weather storms and provides a sense of belonging, purpose, and fulfillment.

Resilience can be developed and strengthened through various strategies and practices. Firstly, fostering self-awareness is crucial. By acknowledging and accepting our emotions and reactions to adversity, we gain control over our thoughts and feelings. This self-awareness allows us to consciously choose productive behaviors and responses, setting the stage for resilience to flourish.

We can see the foundation of resilience as follows,

– People

– Systems thinking

– Adaptability

– Transformability

– Sustainability

– Courage

Additionally, reframing setbacks as learning experiences is essential. Instead of dwelling on failures or losses, resilient individuals focus on the lessons they can glean from these experiences. They view setbacks as stepping stones to success and opportunities for personal growth. This shift in perspective transforms adversity into a catalyst for resilience and personal development.

Research has shown the thirteen (13) states of North-East and North-West zones of Nigeria have experienced a murderous and devastating insurgency by Boko Haram since 2009, which resulted in not only the dislocated social and economic activities in these states but also resulted in at least 20,000 deaths, the enslavement of girls and women, the forced conscription of thousands of boys and young men into the insurgency, and the flight of at least 2.2million internally displaced persons (IDP’s). with over 14,000 people killed in Gaza and 1.2million persons internally displaced. It’s a continuation of the ongoing humanitarian crises around the globe. As some succumbed to the situation, some bounced back to life with resilience.

Cultivating a positive mindset is another aspect of building resilience. Looking for silver linings and developing an optimistic outlook enables individuals to face challenges with hope and a belief in their ability to overcome. A positive mindset allows for the persistence required to persevere through difficult times and empowers individuals to find creative solutions amidst adversity.

Lessons learnt from the Boko Haram insurgency has made us realize the following recommendations;

1. Strengthen Community Governance

2. Encourage Community Policing

3. Develop Frameworks to Curb Religious Extremism

4. Address Extreme Social Inequality

Furthermore, self-care is crucial in nurturing resilience. Taking care of one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being ensures that individuals have the energy and resources to face challenges head-on. Engaging in activities that bring joy, practicing mindfulness and meditation, maintaining a balanced diet, and prioritizing sleep all contribute to resilience and promote overall health.

All these have been a conversation between myself and Mallam when I ask him how the people of Palestine survive the carpet bombings and still smile despite their condition.

I now realize that resilience is not just a trait; it is a powerful tool for survival. By developing emotional strength, mental fortitude, and a positive outlook, individuals can effectively navigate the unpredictable landscapes of life. Resilience allows for the transformation of setbacks into stepping stones, promotes mental well-being, fosters creativity, strengthens relationships, and ultimately empowers individuals to thrive in even the most challenging circumstances. Through self-awareness, reframing setbacks, cultivating positivity, and practicing self-care, we can harness the power of resilience and emerge stronger, more adaptive, and better equipped to navigate the trials and tribulations that life throws our way.

Sumayya Abubakar is a development worker, she is an educationist, and peace builder. She is the lead of Plateau based Muryar Fulani Peace Initiative Network Inc. She runs a schools’ system for marginalised populations in Plateau state, North central of Nigeria.

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