Fatim’s Story – Part 1
Fatim was born out of wedlock to her fifteen-year-old mother. She was given to an uncle and was raised as his “lamonden,” his live-in maid. She was not given the same privileges as other children in the home and was not accepted as their equal.
Fatim was 14 years old when her uncle took a second wife. Her workload doubled, and the sister wives began to fight over her.
Mah, Fatim’s mother, never got past the stigma of having a child out of wedlock and had been ostracized by most of her family. In her early 20s, she moved to Senegal to open a small restaurant in a slum community in Dakar. Mah kept in touch with her daughter and visited several times over the years and always ensured that Fatim had her current phone number.
When things progressively became worse for Fatim, she reached out to her mother. Mah talked to the family and asked that Fatim be allowed to move in with her. She even made a trip back to Mali to speak to the family in person. But to no avail, they refused to let Fatim leave, and they cut off all communication between the mother and daughter.
Fatim persisted and found a way to reach her mother through a friend. Once a week, she was allowed to go to Koranic school, and she’d use her friend’s phone to call her mom. Together, Fatim and her mother came up with a plan to be together.
Pretending as if it was like any other day for Koranic school, Fatim left the house, but she took a taxi to the bus station when she was out of sight. Mah had sent her bus money through her friend and arranged for Fatim to travel to Dakar with two acquaintances traveling on the same bus. It seemed as if the plan was foolproof until they got to the Senegalese border.
Fatim was kicked off the bus and denied entry into Senegal as she lacked the appropriate paperwork. The two ladies traveling with her could not help, but they showed her what bus she needed to take back to Mali.
Fatim was terrified to return. Her uncle was a violent man, and she feared his reaction after she’d attempted to leave his household. As night was falling, a man recognized Fatim’s distress and offered to help her. Having no other options, Fatim went with him. He allowed her to use his phone to call her mother in Dakar to explain the situation. He told Mah that she needed to send him $120 to get Fatim her paperwork.
I got a frantic phone call from Mah in the early hours of the morning; she was so distraught that I could hardly make out what she was saying. She shared what was going on and told me that she only had half the money for Fatim’s paperwork and asked if I could loan her the other half. I assured her that we would help, and then together, we prayed for Fatim’s safety.
Mah wired the money to the stranger at the border, and then it was two days of silence.
Alliance Women encourages you to partner with Hands of Honor through your prayers and financial contributions. We have set a goal to raise $25,000 to help Hands of Honor expand its ministry to young West African girls.
To participate, please visit www.alliancewomen.org/give.