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To give you a perspective of what life is like for the women of Chad, we present several personal testimonies of Chadian women from the Guéra, taken from the book "Là où habitent les femmes" (Where the Women Live), edited by Renée Johns and Rachel Bokoro of the Mennonite Central Committee, published in 1993.

Joba, or Am-Amina, is an Arab woman and a nomad.  My friend Geeska and I pedalled our bicycles into an isolated savannah region to find her camp.  She was sitting outside and was waiting for us; after she welcomed us, she invited us to enter into her tent.  Her tent was made of long poles and straw mats.  We sat on her bed which was spread lengthwise on one side of the tent.  As we spoke, the chickens and the goats entered and left the tent, running as they went.  She offered us some fresh yoghurt and later prepared us some tea on the fire in her tent.
     Although she was elderly and had white hair, Joba had clear, brilliant eyes as she spoke to us clearly and courageously.  She wore a small ring in her nose as do the majority of the Arab women.  Not being too timid, she readily answered all our questions.  She spoke in Arabic, her mother tongue.

     I am from Kunjaru.  Normally, I live nearer to Mongo for two months, then I travel with my family between Ati and Mongo (a distance of about 80 km (50 mi)).  I have four sons and three daughters.  They are all alive.  My husband died eight years ago.  We all travel with the cattle during the rainy season.  We also have a field of small millet (beriberi) on the road to Abéché.  When we harvest the grain we keep them in traditional granaries built out of clay.  We do not sell our grain.
     I do not know how many cattle we have.  We do not count them.  We milk the cows in the morning and in the evening.  One cow gives us about one litre (0.21 gallons) of milk in the morning and one litre in the evening.  We bring a little of the milk and butter to the market to sell it.  We use the rest of the butter for our hair.  With the money from the sale, we buy sugar, tea and millet.  We also have herds of camels but they are very far away from Mongo at this time..
     We eat millet and drink milk for our breakfast.  We have boule (millet paste) and milk for lunch.  We do not eat meat unless we buy it at the market.  We sometimes buy beans and peanuts at the market.  We do not eat eggs.  We sometimes eat chicken or goat meat.  We mostly receive our nourishment from milk.
     When we move from one place to another, I ride on to a cow.  This year I stayed in Mongo during the entire rainy season because I am receiving treatment for leprosy.  I have this sickness for five years now.  It rained one day and there were fish coming from Am-Timan.  And this is how I fell ill with leprosy, because I ate some fish (This is one of the traditional theories among many others concerning leprosy).  I once went to see a doctor in Ati.  Then I came here and went to see the white doctors.  I have three months more of treatment to go.  They gave me pills and I feel better.  People here are not afraid of lepers.
     I got married when I was very young.  My husband was also young.  Our mothers were sisters.  We had three days of celebration and dancing.  We slaughtered a cow and ate boule, rice and pastries.  We set up a huge tent where the men and women could sit down to fire shots as they pleased to celebrate our wedding day.  My husband paid the dowry: two cows, 10,000 CFA
(US$40 or 43 €), perfumes, soaps and sugar.
     One year later, I gave birth to our first child.  My two sisters were with me when I had my children.  I never had any problems.  Here is how a delivery takes place: the midwife stays in front of the mother to deliver the baby.  A rope is tied to the top of the tent for the mother to hold.  After the umbilical cord is cut with a razor blade, the mother and the baby are washed with warm water.  The mother begins to feed the baby immediately.  The placenta is buried.  The mother remains inside her tent, on her bed, for seven days.  The seventh day is the day we give the child a name.  The people bring flour, sugar and a gift.  We organise a celebration.  Our first child was a girl.  Whether a boy or girl is born, we are happy.
     We pierce the ears of the girls when they are five years old.  We pierce them in three places: on top, on the side and on the bottom.  The left side of her nose is also pierced.
     Our children do not go to school; they only go to the fields.  The little girls and boys go two by two to watch the goats.  They leave in the morning and do not return until the sun sets.
     We are Muslims.  We observe Ramadan and the daily prayers.
     We go to see the doctors when we are sick.  We vaccinate our children.  We do not buy traditional medicines and we do not consult the traditional doctors.  Our children do not suffer from diarrhoea or measles.
     It was very difficult during the famine.  A bag of millet cost 15,000 CFA (US$60 or 64 €. A bag of millet normally costs US$12 or 13 €).  We were forced to sell our cows to buy grain.  But at that time, a cow was valued at 10.000 CFA (US$40 or 43 €; normally a cow sells at double that price).  We were forced to sell many of our cows to buy millet.  No one in our family died.  We were lucky.  We had enough cows to spare.
     We have little to do with any of the other people in the other nomadic camps here.  Our children sometimes play with their children but we do not mix with them.  We will not marry any one from the other nomadic camps.
     We are in good company with the people of this area.  There is no problem between us.  The soldiers do not bother us.  We have nothing to steal.

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