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Ivorian Refugees: Woko, Touego and Kapeu tell their stories

Woko and her brother and sister at the Bahn Refugee Camp
Woko and her brother and sister at the Bahn Refugee Camp

Fleeing the instability in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire, refugees were forced to leave their homes, their belongings and day to day life in order to survive. Now living in a refugee camp in Liberia, life is a struggle. These are the stories of three refugees.

On 5 May 2011, SOS Children provided its first truck of relief items to the Bahn Refugee Camp in Liberia, where 3,885 people have found refuge from the ongoing violence in Côte d’Ivoire. A team of six SOS Staff accompanied the delivery to distribute the goods and talk to the refugees to establish how SOS can best meet their future needs. These are the stories of three people they met:

Woko

"Our parents are not with us. Our father died in the war and we still can't find our mother", explains 23-year-old Woko. Woko is now taking responsibility for her three younger siblings; a girl with disabilities; a baby girl and another little boy. "I do not have the skills to take care of three siblings but I must do it because our parents are not with us. Therefore, I tried to hold them together and get them in the UNHCR truck to Liberia. I really don't know how to give my brother and sisters real care. I have never had a child before. I have no profession and no money to care for them. We only depend on the food from this camp to survive.”

Toudego

"My name is Touadego and I am 44 years of age. This is my daughter. Her name is Mahan and she is seven years of age. Look at her arm. It was cut by an explosion during the first 2003 war in our country, Ivory Coast". SOS staff met Touadego when she came to collect a mattress provided by the SOS Emergency Relief Programme for her seven-year-old daughter to sleep on. "She is not my biological daughter," she continues, "but I found her during the 2003 war in Ivory Coast and I felt the need to help her. But I do not even have any money to feed her and myself daily. I am struggling". Touadego tries not to burst into tears. "I came with no husband. I have not seen my husband since we came. I am not sure is if he is alive. I am here struggling with this child alone."

Kapeu

"I have had this swelling on my throat for about four years now. It grew bigger and bigger gradually and now it has reached to this level. Sometimes I get fever from this and it does not make me free to do most of my work here in my house. I cannot usually move like other women because of this medical problem", explains 32-year-old Kapeu, one of the hundreds of female refugees. "I have three children. But they left with their father from Ivory Coast. We were all scattered during that night, when we left our town. I am not aware of their location or don't even know if they are still alive. I worry about them daily. This is one of the reasons I believe that I often get sick, since my mind is at all times anxious about my family and my illness.”

SOS are organising another relief convoy to provide more basic items for the refugees. We will also assist in reuniting families separated by the ongoing conflict. You can read more about how we are helping here.