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Widows in Gourounkoum - Chad blog

Margaret Ward, foreign editor with RTE, provides a glimpse of what life is like for people affected by the conflict in Chad. This blog entry focuses on her time in the Gourounkoum camp near Goz Beida in eastern Chad.

Ache Mahamat Issa doesn’t know how old she is but the lines of her life are etched on her face. She doesn’t know the ages of her eight children either, but one of them is married and has three children of her own.

Ache, dressed in black, has been living in this camp with her family since last year and does not know when or if she will return to her village. It is too dangerous. Her herd was taken, and her husband murdered. Repeated violence forced the remaining people from her village to leave: “I was a woman on my own with eight children. What could I do, I had to follow the others. My husband’s other wife came too, she has five children. We had no animals to bring, nothing.”

We met Ache at a Concern distribution of plastic sheets to help keep out the rain. She and her family rely for food on the ration provided by the World Food Programme: flour, beans, oil, sugar and salt. “Some of the other women have husbands who can find work, but I have no husband and no money. Sometimes I sell some of the flour to buy vegetables or other things.” 

Ache is helped away by Zara, a young Chadian woman who is working with Concern as a translator in the camps. Zara’s colleague Noel, who is registering the displaced people that are being given help, says he always notices that there are a lot of widows. “Everyone concentrates on the material things,” he says, “but it is often the psychological wounds that are the most difficult to bear”.