Profile: Khadija


June 18, 2012

By Rodrigo Ordóñez

Profile: Khadija image 1
A member of staff (right) checks registration cards during a distribution of food in the village of Warshika, in eastern Chad. CARE distributed food for 2,520 people in this area, including 336 malnourished children. © 2012 CARE

Today, CARE is distributing food for 2,520 people in Warshika, eastern Chad. The rhythm is frenetic. Members of staff carry sacks and boxes out of a temporary warehouse; women collect staples such as cereals, lentils, cooking oil, sugar, and salt. CARE is also distributing a high-nutrient supplement to feed 336 malnourished children in this remote community.

One of the women receiving food for her family is Khadija Mohamad, 24. She is one of the 3.6 million people affected by the Sahel food crisis in Chad.

Khadija has a small field where she grows millet, but production this season was very low. "Last year was better; we managed to have some food. This year, we have worked the fields but we have got nothing," she laments.

"There was little rain and birds ate some of the seeds," Khadija explains. "Locusts attacked the leaves as well."

In a good year, she gets up to 800 kilograms of millet out of her plot of land. However, this year she only harvested 110 kilograms, about one sack. This small amount of food didn”t last very long for Khadija and her three children, aged 3, 6, and 10.

When there is not enough food, Khadija cuts down rations and gives her sons two meals a day.

"Here, we suffer. We need a good well so we can drink, and some way to keep the water, so we can water the fields."

With the food distributed by CARE, Khadija can endure the lean season more easily. "It helps me to live more comfortably for a few weeks. After it”s finished, we rest in the hands of god."

"Normally when we run out of food we sell our animals, but this year prices aren”t high," she laments.

"The price of food, however, is too expensive." Khadija explains that this year food is so costly because growers had a bad season and little is available. The price of certain items has increased four-fold.

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Khadija Mohamad, 24, carries a carton of a high-nutrient supplement, in the village of Warshika, in eastern Chad. CARE distributed food for 2,520 people in this area, including 336 malnourished children. © 2012 CARE

A measure of millet, which cost 350 francs CFA last year, now costs 750. A measure of okra, which cost 600 francs CFA last year, now costs 2,500. Tomatoes have gone up from 450 to 1,000 francs CFA. Cooking oil has gone up from 1,000 to 1,500 francs CFA.

Migration to Libya, about 1,000 kilometers away, is common in this area. Young men stay there for about three years, working as shopkeepers, watchman, or other small jobs. "My husband and my brother are in Libya for work. After the war, they came back, but now they have gone back, to Sirte."

"We women start the day in the morning. We work hard, go get water… and we do the work of men as well. But we don”t know how to cultivate the fields."

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