Displaced By Boko Haram, A Father Earns A Living Charging Cellphones : Goats and Soda A father of seven had to start over after his family was forced from home by the militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria. He found safety and a new job in a camp for displaced persons.
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How To Succeed In Business After Fleeing For Your Life

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How To Succeed In Business After Fleeing For Your Life

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How To Succeed In Business After Fleeing For Your Life

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

So imagine that violent extremists have forced you to flee your home. Your family has made it out safely. But now the question is, how do you make a life? How do you make a living? NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports from a camp for displaced people in northeast Nigeria.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Modu Churi is a tall man who towers over the makeshift booth where he set up shop in the stairwell of an unfinished three-story building taken over by refugee squatters. Churi was driven from his home in the town of Mijigini last year by Boko Haram fighting. Now he lives in the regional capital Maiduguri, which hosts more than a million and a half people uprooted by violence. Most have lost practically everything. But many still have their phones, and those phones need to be charged.

MODU CHURI: (Through interpreter) I have little amount of money left with me after I left my village for this place. So I now decided, OK, let me start up a little business. So that is why I thought of a charging point, then I started.

QUIST-ARCTON: Forty-three-year-old Churi, a father of seven, has a generator because power cuts are common in Maiduguri. He says his life savings of 50,000 naira, about $160, helped him purchase the generator and set up, if not a big business, at least a viable little enterprise charging mobile phones. Even here in Muna Customs Camp, Churi tells us, as three curious little boys peek out from beneath the small stall. Churi says this work means he earns money to look after his family.

CHURI: (Through interpreter) At times - when there is market, at times I used to charge, like, 50 phones - at times, up to hundred phones in a day.

QUIST-ARCTON: Churi charges what people can pay, he says, an affordable 30 naira, 10 cents per phone. At times, I make 3,000 or 4,000 naira a day, the equivalent of nearly $13, says Churi, smiling.

CHURI: (Through interpreter) We thank God. The market is moving.

QUIST-ARCTON: But Modu Churi dreams of leaving the displaced people's camp in Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria and heading back to Mijigini with his family.

CHURI: (Through interpreter) I'm planning to go back home. I want to go back home. I have a generator here, so I will use the generator for the business. Yeah. It is a good work, so that is the reason why I said, OK. Let me just venture into it, since people are using their cellphones here.

QUIST-ARCTON: And it seems Churi's customers are satisfied.

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Maiduguri.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE HYGRADES' "IN THE JUNGLE (INSTRUMENTAL)")

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