Haleyma, now twenty-one, was twelve years old when she started first grade of primary school—a week after she arrived in refugee camp Goz Amer. She was very afraid to come to the camp because people were telling them that “there is people that eat people in that camp,” to scare them away from coming. Her parents told her and her eight siblings to not be afraid, “Those are lies.”
Haleyma had not started school when she was younger and still living in Darfur because her father thought is was more important for her to take care of animals, or as the translator told us, “Her father wanted her to be a cowgirl.” Heleyma wanted to be a student though, and her dream came true, after some horrible events that led to her becoming a refugee.
It was early in the morning when the janjaweed attacked. They looted and then beat up people, even killing some, in Haleyma’s village. Her family ran and ran, until they made it to the Chad border, only two hours away. Once at the border, the janjaweed attacked them again. Other people from her tribe were injured and killed. Her family kept going further inside of Chad, until they made it to refugee camp Goz Amer.
Arabic was young Haleyma’s favorite subject. She liked to read stories and poetry. She enjoyed learning so much that she now wants to pass that joy to students of her own. She’s still a student at secondary school. Since she started primary school so late, like many of the refugees, she still has two years of what’s the equivalent of high school.
Haleyma is married and lives in the compound that belongs to her parents. Her home is clean and pretty. She even has a little garden. She did not know that she was going to have visitors, but her room was still spotless and organized.
Haleyma is attentive and active at teachers’ training. When asked how she imagined her first day, she said: “I’ll teach them to wash their hands and to share.” We can’t wait to see Heleyma with a room full of little ripples!
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