salka: a short story

22 July 2018 | by Júlia Muñoz Haro

Monguel. In the region where I was born, I already know how to write. Salka showed it to me. I know techniques to improve food production. Salka showed it to me. We have little water, but I know how to build dams so as not to waste it. Salka showed it to me too.

I live here after a journey of 385 kilometers on foot through the desert. An elderly man from the South had the courage to guide 82 families for too many days to be counted. Under tiredness, thirst, hunger, although it had seemed impossible, hope reigned. Our life was on alert, in emergency and, even though we were exposed to danger, we needed to flee from misery. 3 moons killed my mother, the joy of my life. Shortly after - my father as well, along with more than half of the traveling partners. With impotence and sadness, I had no choice but to go ahead for them.

At only 25 years old, I am seeing how a large part of my village is dying, our cattle and the trees under which the youngest ones play. I live in a permanent drought and I just want to get food for my grandfather, the only family I have left.

Lost in my thoughts I untie the handkerchief that covers my head and part of my face. It is the first time that I expose my hair to the sun's rays. I hold it with my nervous hands and tie it to my arm. In a few seconds all the women present follow my example. We are women against hunger.

That's when Salka arrives. Always with that big smile. For several months we have been learning to read, conserve soil, create reserves and know the nutritional value of food. In a short time we have gone from being a part of the problem to a part of the solution.

Salka is a teacher, a volunteer, but above all, she is Mauritania. She represents a region of women who fight to get a whole country out of the hell of hunger. We still have no food, no water, but we have the means to be the force of change. *

* Salka is a fictional story by Julia Munoz Haro inspired by mass migrations through the deserts of India, the intersectional gender struggle of Mauritanian women and the three main topics discussed at (Re)Defining Equality 2018, environment, gender and sexuality, and migration.


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