Born into poverty in Kano, Shehu was recruited into a gang when he was just seven years old. Later his best friend convinced him to switch over to the gang he was in. It was called Boko Haram.
The militant group became Shehu’s family, his school, his ‘normal’. He was taught to read with radical Islamist propaganda. He learned the gang ethics of obedience, violence, and fear.
It was only when his best friend was killed in front of him that Shehu realised he needed to find a life outside the militant group, a life away from violence. Luckily he found our local partner, the Peace Initiative Network (PIN), who help young people find alternatives to violence through sports, peace clubs and vocational training.
After benefiting from PIN’s ‘Peace through Sports’ activities, Shehu wanted to help more vulnerable young people in his community find alternatives to violence in a similar way. So he created a space where neighbourhood boys and gang members alike could come and learn the difference between boxing and fighting. A place where they could find common ground.
Sadly, joining armed groups is the only option for many young people living in poverty in Nigeria. Grassroots peace initiatives like Shehu’s boxing club and the Peace Initiative Network are changing that.
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Thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery for making this work possible!