The Day We Will Dance: Tedy in Mali

Illustration of Tedy in Mali. Credit : Sophie Le Hire

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

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

My name is Tedy, I am 40 years old, I am Malian, native of the region of Mopti in the Center of Mali. 

Because of the violence, I had to flee my village, and I live today with other displaced people who have known the same fate, on a site near the capital. 

Before the conflict, I was selling milk and I was also a hairdresser. I took care of my family and even managed to save money. 

But one day, as intercommunal violence became more and more serious, we were forced to flee, to leave our house with my children, taking only my phone and the clothes I was wearing. We had to take a very long route to arrive in Bamako, forced to pass through Ouagadougou and stayed more than two days without eating anything, I had no money and without the help of one of my daughters who works in the capital, I don't know what would have become of us. 

I haven't had a chance to study and the struggle of my life is to send my children to school. I will do my best to make them the most influential people in our community and even in Mali! Access to education is a right for every child. 

Shortly after arriving at the site, I was appointed President of the displaced women because I speak the national Bambara language, so I can easily speak to the authorities. It was a big responsibility. I talked a lot with the other women, and we decided to develop activities to earn a living. I got the necessary support so that we are trained in making soaps and dyes, as well as in practice of traditional henna and hairdressing. 

In Bamako, there are really a lot of weddings and we thus had the opportunity to put into practice what we had learned with our first clients. Like others, I am a mother and I take care of my children alone. At the beginning I had started a small condiment business, it worked a little, but alone and with my children to take care of, I did not manage and I had to give up. Together with the other women, it became possible. 

Unfortunately, with Coronavirus disease, all of our activities have stopped. We hope this disease will pass quickly so that we can take control of our lives again. Here on the site, we protect ourselves against the disease by respecting the barrier measures decreed by the health authorities and we have received hand washing kits. 

I can’t imagine the future. We would like to return home, but the conflict persists and we are afraid of endangering the lives of our children. It is for them that every day I find the courage to fight and to encourage other women to do it too, we have a duty to guide our children on the path to a better future. In my dreams, this path is education and I will continue to believe in it and hope for it. 

Interview by Sitan Coulibaly, Oxfam in Mali. 

More stories from The Day We Will Dance

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."

*Name has been changed to protect the identity 

Read the story of Mariam* in Burkina Faso

                            "Behind us, there are attacks, in front of us is the disease. How will we cope?"

*Name has been changed to protect the identity 

Read the story of Halima in Niger

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

Introduction and creative process