A resident of Zamzam camp approached the Counselors today and said to them, "You have saved my daughter's life from contemplation of suicidal thoughts, depression, and the frustration that has been haunting her since such a long time ago, when she was just a child."
And he continued by saying, “My daughter has never recovered since that day when she and her mother were tied up on our farm by the devilish camel herders, whom I will never be able to forgive, even on the day of judgment.” And then he broke in tears. And he finished by saying, " I have nothing to offer you as reward for helping my daughter but I have asked her to come here every day to help you, and to help herself to be strong.”
• From a girl 16 years old, and a victim of sexual violence …
“My name is Mahasin, and I am 16 years old. Two years ago, I was beaten severely with my mother while we were working on our farm; afterwards, the men did very bad things to us. My family took me home in a cart because I couldn't walk for a very long period because I'm suffering from pain. All this time I have not been able to go out of the house because I was afraid of all the men and overcrowded places. Until recently I didn't want to go outdoors to talk with other people because of what everyone thinks and talks about us. But after seeing sisters from Team Zamzam,who treated me like their own sister, I feel much better. I'm very happy for their support and for listening to me. I thank you for this nice gift."
• From a woman responding to the three counselors after their emergency visit to the Tawila area in North Darfur on April 6th. During this visit, they met a woman named Kaltouma who said:
“I don't know my age because I never went to school but I think I'm fifty something. I live in Koalgi village [evidently very small, as it appears on no standard map of North Darfur] in Tawila locality. Last year at the beginning of harvest season I sent my daughter Amona, who was 16 years old at the time, to work with other people from neighboring farms. She went to the Tawila markets to fetch necessities for us and on her way back to farm she and other women were attacked by camel herders at gunpoint. They were badly beaten and Amona’s left arm was broken. Besides this, other bad things happened to them but she always found it difficult and refused to share with us until recently [“bad things” is the most common euphemism for sexual assault].
“Since that attack her behavior has totally changed. She wakes up in the middle of night screaming; she becomes very aggressive with people and everything around her. The past few weeks she did not get out of her bed and I was worried about her well-being. Her younger sister told me she was planning to hang herself from a tree. I don't know what to do right now, I can't leave her alone to go even to fetch water for my other children. Please I need your help; please talk to her if you can."
[The counselors managed to talk to Amona for three hours, provided her a small gift, and convinced her to talk to her mother.]
• The testimony of Halima from the village of Gallab in North Darfur (received April 11, 2021):
"My name is Halima, I am 17 years old now. I have three sisters and two young male brothers, and we all now live in Zamzam with our widowed mother. My father was killed in the Darfur war and I was two years old when we came to Zamzam. I do not know much about what happened when we left our village in Gallab because I was a child.
"Last year, while we were at our farm [during harvest season] with my mother and two of my siblings, five Arab armed men came to us from the Gallab area and then they forcibly took me with them, and during this incident my mother tried to rescue me, but she was severely beaten and hit in the head. My mother lost her balance and fell on the ground.
“From there they took me to their tenton camelback, about an hour away from our farm. After two days of this [sexual assault] they released me and threatened me, telling me not to say anything to anyone; otherwise my family would be subjected to murder. For those days I didn't know what was happening to me. All I was feeling was pain—it was so painful. After that incident I was feeling a severe pain for many weeks and I am still in pain sometimes.
“I didn't want to talk about what happened to me to anyone until sisters from Team Zamzam came to encourage me to be strong. I have seen them for two months now and I'm feeling stronger,happier and sometimes feel stupid for not taking the opportunity to talk with them from the first meeting. Sisters from Team Zamzam helped me and I will never forget them.”
• More generally, the coordinating counselor has recently said to Gaffar and me (received April 3, 2021):
“We have noticed that the level of improvement among the girls and women receiving counseling increases with the number of new arrivals to attend the sessions. It seems many people are starting to hear about the benefits of this program from the girls who attends counseling sessions, and this is very good….”
"We have noticed a positive development in the behavior of young girls; and self-confidence is increasing. We now can confidently say that we have been able to break the psychological barrier that resulted from stigma and social isolation. At the beginning it was very difficult to talk to them about what was going on inside their heads but now things are different. Some of the victims brought their friends to the counseling sessions and this has helped us a lot. That's why last month we rewarded some of those with a recreational trip to El-Fasher which was useful and helpful and we intend to do this again for this month.”