The Sierra Leone Web

  Umu K. Tejan-Jalloh. No biography available.  


Refugee Woman

(Dedicated to all Refugee Women)

Alone she makes the toughest decisions everyday
When the shooting started
And she heard the solemn marshal music play on her radio,
She knew it was another coup d'tat
Alone in her room she decided to run no more and she told her husband so

But when strange men entered her town and started burning
Houses and proclaimed "Operation no living thing"
When the rains started and she could no longer tell the difference
Between the sounds of thunder and gunshots

When in the middle of the night she heard her neighbour and
Daughters scream, as they were gang raped
In her room alone she decided it was time to flee and she told her husband so

In her room alone she decided which of her four children to take
Along and who stay with dad
Alone with her two-month old baby on her back and her two-year
Old clutched in one hand she started the long hazardous journey to
An unknown country

Alone in the thick forest she ate and fed her children with wild fruits
Alas with swollen feet and ankles together with sick and weak children,
She arrived at a refugee camp in a border town
The aid worker rushed the weak children to the Health post
She was screened and registered by the Protection Officer and given her food and non-food package.

She was tired weak and hungry but alas in the camp
She feels safe and
Can hear people speak in her tongue
And feebly she smiles

Alone one day, refugee woman took her sick baby to the clinic
Two kilometers away from the camp
She watched as the nurses tried to save her tiny tot in vain
The baby died unable to survive the long journey from home
Without food and shelter
Refugee woman screamed and cried until she could cry no more
She dried her tears with her headscarf

She decided to take her dead baby to the camp to bury her
Near her
With the help of the nurses
Refugee woman washed her baby for the last time
And they left the Health post for the camp

In the camp, her friends and camp committee members took over the burial rites
Her baby was washed again three odd times
A simple sweetly perfumed talcum powder was massaged all over
Her baby's soft skin
And she was dressed in her best second-hand dress
Refugee woman's old but clean wrapper used as the "kafan" to
Cover the whole body of her baby.

The Camp Imam recited the "Janazah" prayers
The small and silent procession left the camp to the nearest
Cemetery where her beautiful baby was laid to rest
in a foreign land

Alone in her booth refugee woman decided to cry no more
But when strange men entered her camp one day and started firing
She fought back the tears filled in her eyes
Alone she decided to flee back to her country
This time the journey by foot was the short distance to the way
Station built for the convenience of returnees
The rest of the journey she made by boat in safety and dignity

Refugee woman at home long last
She was screened and registered again at the Ports
For the last time she hopes
Refugee woman will cry no more
Refugee woman will run no more
Cause peace is here at last