Lafayas in Amkharouba // Salouakatteer

Pulling up to Amkharouba village, our first stop of the day, I hang back in the Land Rover while my colleagues pile out to greet our eager hosts. Sitting on my lap is a beautifully geometric patterned lafaya, a traditional Chadian wrap borrowed from a colleague who worked in the area for an extended period of time.

The lovely women of Amkharouba wrap me in a lafaya, otherwise known as a Kelly burrito.

The lovely women of Amkharouba wrap me in a lafaya, otherwise known as a Kelly burrito.

Glued to, and sweating in, my seat, I stare at the large piece of fabric – bewildered as to how I will be able to perform my normal photographer duties while wrapped head to toe like a human burrito in the Sahel.

Reluctantly making my way out of the car, I’m immediately surrounded by a group of curious onlookers. Noticing the lafaya gripped in my sweaty palms, they grab the fabric and proceed to give me a Sila Region makeover.

Despite the women’s lafaya wrapping expertise, it was just as uncomfortable I imagined. Let’s just say that though I may have looked like a local (okay, as much as a white woman could), I sure didn’t walk like one. Throughout the afternoon, tripping became a normalcy.

Okay. I'll cut myself a little slack on my tripping quota.

Okay. I’ll cut myself a little slack on my tripping quota.

Fortunately, I was not the one in front of the camera – and the people of Amkharouba seemed to deeply appreciate my willingness to dress as they do.

And as clichéd as it may sound, my day as a Chadian burrito became noticeably less uncomfortable as I sat and listened to the community’s daily discomforts. I was trying to restrain from ripping off my lafaya for a single afternoon; the women of Amkharouba rock their lafayas all day every day all the while dealing with significant discomforts.

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// Saloukatteer //

“I’m hoping that one day we can get water and a school and food to eat every day.”

Brushing back her neon yellow lafaya, Salouakatteer solemnly describes life in Amkharouba, a village in the rural Sila Region of Eastern Chad.

Located close to one and a half hours from the nearest water source – both the land and the people of Amkharouba are dehydrated.

Describing her daily activities, Salouakatteer explains that “the water we are getting is very far from here”.

Often, she spends the majority of her morning on donkey back traveling to and from the water collection site – an old well.

“I go every day, unless sometimes my brother or sisters go instead. The water we are getting is not clean,” Salouakatteer tells me.

Though unsure of her age, Salouakatteer appears to be around ten years old. No matter, she is old enough to know that people in her village are dying from hunger and a lack of clean, accessible drinking water.

Referring to her six siblings Salouakatteer says, “We eat one to two times a day. Yes, we are hungry everyday – sometimes we even cry.”  She solemnly recalls a few people in Amkharouba who have died from such causes.

World Concern staff meets with the Amkharouba under a tree.

World Concern staff and the Amkharouba community meet under a tree.

World Concern recently partnered with the people of Amkharouba through an incredible program called One Village Transformed.

Thanks to private donors who have committed to three years of support, the people of Amkharouba are working alongside World Concern to establish what many of us would consider as basics: accessible clean water, agricultural empowerment, hygiene awareness, and education.

Though Salouakatteer’s childhood may have been cut short by her surrounding environment, she is clearly still a child at heart.

“School is far from here so no one attends. But I want to learn about what kids learn about in school.”

Just the mention of education reveals a bashful grin on Salouakatteer’s previously stoic face.

“I’m hoping that one day we can get water and a school and food to eat every day.”

** If you are interested in participating in World Concern’s One Village Transformed program (seriously, this is an amazing opportunity), check out this link.
***Over the next few weeks I plan to frequently update the blog with beneficiary stories from all over East Africa. Tune in to read more about World Concern’s work. Use this blog as a medium for connecting to a people, place, and story that is not frequently talked about in the standard news.

 

2 thoughts on “Lafayas in Amkharouba // Salouakatteer

  1. Bruce Fairbanks

    Kelly,
    This blog is a welcome addition the the awakening awareness of E. African conditions. Thank you, and keep up the superb work.
    May God bless you and people you touch with your work.
    Bruce Fairbanks, Westminster Presbyterian

    Reply

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