«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.»