The Day We Will Dance: Mariam in Burkina Faso

Illustration of Mariam in Burkina Faso. Credit : Sophie Le Hire

The series The Day We Will Dance is illustrated by the artist Sophie Le Hire

“We are in the crossfire: behind us there are attacks, in front of us is the disease. How will we cope? I will be so glad when this illness ends.”

My name is Mariam*. I am 25 years old, and I come from the Center-Nord region in Burkina, near Dablo. 

My dream was to have a high school diploma. I became a mother while still in school but I hung on and continued until 10th grade. However, in April they closed the school because of insecurity and classes stopped completely. 

I wanted to be either a teacher – to educate children and to share knowledge with them – or to be a doctor and to save lives. All of this fell apart.  

When attacks by armed groups became more and more frequent, I chose to flee my home so that I would not end up like so many other victims of violence or rape. 

Everyday life is not easy here. We don't have enough to eat, and I have to ration our lunch if I want something left to eat in the evening. There is no firewood and, as a woman, I am afraid when I have to go and collect it in the bush; I do not feel safe. To survive, I try to do laundry in town for other families, or pound millet or sorghum for 500 CFA [0.83 USD]. At the moment, we need support for everything: water, food, shelter. 

With the arrival of [coronavirus], our life has changed: markets are closed, and with it any place where we can find work. Preventative measures have changed our daily lives. We can no longer move around when and where we want to. To protect my family, we wash our hands regularly before doing anything else: cooking, eating, going to the toilet. 

The disease has made our lives more difficult, especially when it comes to accessing water. So as to avoid finding ourselves in a crowd, we leave at dawn to go to the well. If there are a lot of people, we leave the cans at the well and return to the house. 

We urgently need water and hygiene kits, dishes, kettles, and soaps. If we were able to get these items, it would improve our daily lives.  

Interview by Syntyche Ouedraogo, Oxfam in Burkina Faso. 

*Name has been changed to protect the identity.

More stories from The Day We Will Dance

Read the story of Halima in Niger

                      “Pregnant women kept falling and getting up. We have lost sight of our children."

Read the story of Tedy in Mali 

"I want my children to get an education worthy of the name, to be one day part of the elite in this country. " 

Read the story of Sylvie in the Central African Republic

 “Armed groups choose their target. The coronavirus, if it comes to Batangafo, will destroy everything that remains on its path." 

Read the story of Rosalie the Central African Republic

                      "The coronavirus scares me, but it's not going to last forever. I remain confident."

Read the story of Victorine* in Burkina Faso 

                                       “The day I hear that this disease is over, we will dance."

*The name has been changed to protect the identity

Introduction and the creative process