Source: WFP
Women as head of the household : During a monitoring visit, the team met Khadijatou, one of the refugee living in the camp for 36 years. She describes how was her life and how it get improved thanks to humanitarian assistance

During one of our monitoring visits to Smara camp we visited Khadijatou, who welcomed us with a smile and invited us to enter to her khaima, where she prepared and offered us tea, an essential part of traditional hospitality.

The khaima was covered with carpets, but had no decorated cushions as the khaimas we had just visited before; it had an older air than the neighbouring dwells. While we were speaking with her mother, the children appeared and sat with us. Some of them were barefoot and covered with dust, but all of them were curious about us.

Khadijatou explained us that her nine children were the product of two marriages. Her first husband left and the second one moved to another camp after they divorced. Till, these six girls and three boys were her responsibility; the smallest one was around 1 year old. “Allah maana (God is with us) …” she answered when we asked her how she managed to take care of them.

Khadijatou faced the same problem as many other refugees in the camps; the sources of income was very limited in the camps, her husbands left to look for better opportunities, but she stayed, taking care of her children. Women are considered to be the head of household and they have a preeminent role in decision making, but, after 36 years in the camps, the society has started to change, creating new vulnerable groups, such as mono-parental families, even more dependable on food assistance.

”WFP is our main source of food… and now it is my children’s father” added Khadijatou. As we were leaving, one of the children suddenly said.


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