«They Stole my Future»


Toufa Muhammed Ali (23) has a hard time holding back her tears when she tells us about the education she was never able to finish.

«I wanted to study medicine. I wanted to become a surgeon who could save the lives of my countrymen. There isn’t any med school here, and I was studying in Algeria when my mother got some serious lung-problems, which unabled her to take care of the family. My father, bless him, is a martyr in the struggle for freedom, and as I was the eldest daughter I had to come back to the camp to look after mom, our house and my younger half-sister.»

No one forced Toufa to return, and she knows her aunt gladly would have looked after her mother. But this was never an option for the young Saharawi woman. According to tradition it is the eldest daughter’s duty to take care of the family when the mother can’t do it anymore. Toufa uses her malahfa to wipe her eyes.

«All my sorrows, all the things that are bad in my life are caused by the Moroccans. If we would have our own land we wouldn’t have to go abroad to study. And if we weren’t stuck in this terrible desert my mother wouldn’t spend half her life in hospital with asthma.»

The eyes which were wet with tears a minute ago now glows with anger.

Toufa is sure that most problems in most of the houses and tents in the refugee camps are related to the Moroccan occupation of “ardi” – our land.

«We have no future here. Absolutely not! There is no work, no money and no hope. The international community has established a few schools we can attend for free. They’re not my favourite subjects, but still I have decided to study English and Computer Science here in the camp. I want knowledge, even if I can’t use it for anything.»

«There is only one solution to all these problems; a free Western Sahara. We have to go to war again. I’ll gladly fight myself, in the name of my country, my father and all the other men and woman who have already given their life in the struggle. I’d rather die trying to liberate my Western Sahara than to rot here in the desert.»

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20 Responses to “«They Stole my Future»”

  1. Moving story…

  2. So touching… I hope and wish her and others to have their freedom one day.

  3. If anyone says they are bored or fed up with life while living a privileged life that has clean running water flowing into their homes and electricity in an instant by just a flick of a switch, should be sent here to see what truly is an almost hopeless situation.
    Thanks Otto for sharing…

  4. Beautiful portraits..

  5. People in this western world are so spoiled and spend their lives complaining about ridiculous things. I wish they would open their eyes and see what hardship & struggle really means.

  6. This has been (and continues to be) a most fascinating series Otto.

  7. Wow what a touching post Otto. Thank you

  8. Hello… This is very informative and very touching. Thank you for sharing.

    Regards to you, to Sir Munchow and good luck in your project. :)

  9. Reading this brings to mind how very insulated I really am, quite steeped in my own comforts. Very sobering. I’m decently aware of political pressures and oppression in other parts of the world, and yet when I read this I shamefully admit I know next to nothing of what this woman experiences as her reality. it’s time for me to do a little homework. Deeply thought provoking, Otto. Debra

  10. Beautiful portrait, sad, moving and frustrating.

  11. Beautiful and I agree with Elena’s comments completely

  12. artblablablablog Says:

    So hard to read and yet she seems to have hope still stirring in her. I have hope for her too. Beautiful portrait of her.

  13. Stories like these makes me realize how blessed I am as a person. I do wish her well. I live for the day when fighting over territories will only be a thing of the past… :(

  14. Important story – again, like Mohamed Kaihel’s. Let’s all work for peace and love for all people in the world!

  15. What a situation to find yourself in when so young! And why so much strife in the world that keeps young people from realising their dreams for themselves and their country? She looks lovely. May she find the strength and courage to achieve what she is aiming for.

  16. ahmed labat Says:

    touching , it is really so hard to live such situation. may God bless her and heal her mother as well,,,,,.
    her cousin

  17. Thank you for sharing this story. Hope is something we cannot afford to loose

  18. Heart wrenching story typical of many. Thank you for sharing.

  19. I wish her all the best… not easy at all…

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