No choice but to leave

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Time flows unjustly, unstoppable, in front of one’s eyes. A few hours to leave everything behind, a few hours to survive. Do not hesitate, it could cost your life. A few minutes of terror can change everything when a village gets attacked. What would you choose to carry in your bags? What emotions, memories, thoughts will weigh down your steps? This is a journey of escape and redemption – this is Fatoumata’s journey to Nouna, Burkina Faso.


In the midst of despair, two twin children born

The memories, the scenes, and the faces of when our village was attacked remain vivid in my mind and weigh heavily on my heart. Terror and fear cling to me in stubborn flashbacks that refuse to fade away.

At the beginning of this year, around four o’clock in the afternoon, the tranquillity of our village was shattered by armed men who surrounded our homes. Horrible words of violence came from their lips as they gave us a six-hour ultimatum to leave our houses or they would kill us all. I was terrified. I was pregnant – worried about my unborn twins – and the weight of the impending danger and the physical strain of my condition made it unbearable. 

With heavy hearts, we packed our belongings that evening, our full life wrapped up in just a few bags. As night fell, we had no choice but to flee our village, leaving behind most of our possessions and even our precious animals. The only thing that mattered was to save our lives.

We walked throughout the night with no breaks, no looking back, only stopping when morning came. Exhausted, we arrived in Nouna, and all that remained was the painful memory of everything we had left behind.

To our relief, we were welcomed with open arms by the catechist, a fellow villager serving in Nouna. But everything in this new place felt strange and unfamiliar. His house became a refuge for many displaced families, including mine, but it was a difficult time with many challenges. Oftentimes, there wasn’t enough to eat. But then, the Daughters of Charity and their compassionate collaborators came to our rescue, providing us with sustenance and essential supplies.

I spent many days in Nouna, haunted by the traumatic memory of the attack on our village, our home taken from us with unimaginable violence. I was afraid that my life would never return to what it was before. My emotions were mixed between the joy of welcoming my twins into the world, unaware of what had happened, and the fear of not being able to take care of them. Yet, amidst the darkness, I was grateful that my life had been spared.

Today, with the support of these remarkable women, whom I consider to be a gift from God, I have a home I can finally call my own. The moment I received the keys was overwhelming. Tears of joy streamed down my face as I realized that the Sisters and their generous donors had changed the trajectory of our lives. They not only gave us physical shelter, but also a renewed sense of hope for myself and my children.

Now that I have a safe and decent house for my family, our daily lives have changed dramatically. It’s not the same as our previous home, but it is a place where we can rebuild, and find stability and peace. 

Looking ahead, I hope and wish that opportunities lie in my family’s future. Once my children are older, I aspire to have my own small business to ensure we are not reliant on charity for our sustenance. I am already picturing and manifesting the best path forward to secure our future. 

To those facing difficult situations and overwhelming challenges, I offer these words of encouragement: never lose hope, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem. Stay focused, trust in God, and remember that even in the darkest of times, there can be rays of light and acts of kindness that can change your life.