Peace is What Counts

Fatimé Malicky (49) is one of more than 95,000 people who fled from the Central African Republic to Chad, the neighboring country in the north. In the capital Bangui, she had her own shop. At night, she’d drive a taxi to earn a bit more money. She built two houses there, made friends, raised three daughters, and buried her husband nine years ago.

“It started at three in the morning. We heard the firing, heavy artillery and shooting. In our neighborhood, 55 people were killed with machetes, pregnant women were cut open and their unborn children were hacked to pieces. All around us there was nothing but death. So you take your children and run. There was no time to pack anything.” In her hurry, all Fatimé grabbed was her purse. A few months earlier, she had looked through her picture albums and taken out the pictures most valuable to her. She had put these in her purse so she could always carry them with her. Now, those pictures are the only things` left of her previous life. Today, she lives with one of her daughters and three of her grandchildren in the refugee camp Dosseye in the southern part of Chad. Her other two daughters fled to Cameroon; the family remains separated.

Fatimé is part of a women’s cooperation that is being supported by CARE. The group received four sewing machines that are now standing on a small table in a breezy room. “There are 60 women in our group, but only two of them know how to work with a sewing machine”, Fatimé explains. “We make the best of what we have, but nevertheless it remains very little.” As an independent entrepreneurial woman it must be an incredible challenge for Fatimé to start rebuilding her life again and to rely on help from others. As a single woman who takes care of children on her own, she is entitled to CARE’s cash program. Each month she receives about 3 euro, as well as additional money to send her grandchildren to school and to regular health check-ups.

“I am very proud of our success here. CARE helped us tremendously with the sewing machines, but we want to achieve even more in the future. We can cook and sell the food, we can produce soap and bake cakes or something of the likes – there is so much more we can do here.” Despite their dire circumstances, returning home is not an option for the family. “In life, you need to be prepared for everything. I don’t allow myself to think about what has happened. If I were to do that, it would make me sick. I want to forget everything. We have peace here. That is all that counts. We can sleep in peace, wake up in peace, we don’t hear any gunfire. If only there were more work…”

  • Fatimé Malicky (49) fled from the Central African Republic to Chad. Since then, she has been living with one of her daughters and three grandchildren in the refugee camp Dosseye in the south of Chad. Her other two daughters fled to Cameroon; the family remains separated to this day.

    Photo: Care