Waiting Eagerly to Return Home
When the armed-conflict in Mali began, Fadimata's family relocated to Ségou from Timbuktu. Now that Timbuktu has been liberated, she hopes to return home. This is her story...
I made it to school today. I am so pleased. Up to the last minute, my mother didn't know if she would be able to pay the $1 dollar donkey cart fare for a ride to school. I was pacing everywhere. I was frantic. I told her that I had an important exam and that I have been working hard for it and that there was no reason why I should end up with a 0/20 because I missed school again. She was anxious. I could see it on her face. I know when she is anxious because she is usually quiet, but she looked upset. I could see it in her eyes. After I 'bullied' her, she went and borrowed money from one of our neighbors. And so I was able to go to school in time for my exam. I don't know how long this will last.
The Difficult Transition
We have been living like this, on the edge, for too long. Last year, not long after the trouble in Timbuktu began, we left our home in Timbuktu. My mother rented a bedroom in Ségou for all ten of us to share–me, my brothers, sisters, and cousins. It has not been easy. You cannot have any privacy here. Sometimes a girl needs her privacy. In this single room, it is not possible. In Timbuktu, we had more space and we did not pay rent, we lived in our own house. I don't know how my mother copes with this on her own.
My Father is still living in Timbuktu. I don't know how we all cope with the separation, especially when I am angry–and I have been upset more than once.
Help from the Community
My mother says that we are lucky to be here, we are lucky to be alive and we are lucky to have received such a lovely welcome from everybody here in Ségou. I know that's true. I know that sometimes my mother has gone to the store and the owners have allowed her to take some of the items for free, until she gets the money to repay them. I know that we have received gifts of vegetables and cereals from our neighbors.
I remember that when we first moved here, I wasn't able to do my homework at home, because we didn't have electricity in our rented room. We have since received a lamp from Plan International. They have also given us textbooks, bags, pens, and pencils. We were so pleased because my mother had just told us that we might have to wait a couple of weeks before she could afford to buy our school supplies. People have been very generous and God has been watching over us.
I feel better when I think about all this. It could have been much worse. My best friend, people used to call us the twins, stayed in Timbuktu. Her life has taken such an unexpected path. She always wanted to stay in school and to become a teacher. Imagine how shocked I was to hear that she got married last summer. Her new husband is the owner of a local clothing shop. He is very nice, but this was so unexpected. She told me that she was not ready for marriage. I miss Djenne. I know that she will have lots of things to tell me about her new life. I have a lot to tell her about my year in Ségou.
The Possibility of Returning Home
A couple of weeks ago, I heard that Timbuktu was liberated and I was so happy. I started packing my things. Well, not really. When I was at home I was thinking about all of the things that I didn't want to forget in Ségou, like textbooks. I told all my friends that my family would be returning to Timbuktu within weeks. This never happened. I am not fazed by it. I know that it will happen later this year. My mother told us the other day that if the situation continues to improve, we will be back home this summer. I am praying that all stays well so that we can go home at last.