Born on the move
A mother describes how she was forced to deliver her daughter in an unfamiliar place after fighting forced her to flee Khartoum
Imagine having to leave your home, heavily pregnant, to escape the fighting that has erupted around you. Hawa Abdullah doesn’t have to imagine at all. She has just gone through that very experience.
Just weeks ago, Hawa was preparing to welcome a daughter at a hospital in Khartoum. The family was excited, especially her other children, who were looking forward to meeting their new sibling.
When fighting first erupted in the city, Hawa thought it would probably subside after a day or two. But as it continued and intensified, she was forced to make the toughest decision of her life – to leave Khartoum to try to find a safe place where she could deliver her baby.
“We were tired and afraid of gunfire and the tough conditions,” she says.
But even though she was making this decision to protect her family and unborn child, leaving was a difficult and scary step into the unknown.
“We decided to leave not knowing what to expect,” she says.
Bumps in the road
Accompanied by her three children, sister, and mother, Hawa looked for the quickest mode of transport available to get the family away from the fighting. All they could find was a ride on the back of a truck. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was better than staying.
But even after she found a driver willing to take the family, a new problem arose: The truck driver was worried about taking Hawa because she was heavily pregnant.
“The truck driver wasn’t willing to take me due to my condition. But in the end, we convinced him,” she says.
The family huddled together on the back of the truck. As the truck manoeuvred across difficult terrain to avoid checkpoints, the passengers endured a long and dusty ride under the scorching sun.
“It was a very exhausting journey,” Hawa recalls. “It was bumpy and uncomfortable.”
After several hours on the road, the family arrived in the city of Madani.
Delivering a ‘diamond’
A week ago, with support from other mothers, Hawa successfully delivered a baby girl – Remas, which means diamond.
As she cuddles her bundle of joy, Hawa says she feels relieved when she thinks of what could have happened to her and her little one had she stayed in Khartoum.
Today, she cuddles her daughter at a shelter that is currently home to hundreds of displaced children and families in Madani. The smile on her face shows the hope she still feels for the future, despite the adversity she’s now coping with.
Surrounded by her children, mother, and love from other families, Hawa says even with the current uncertainty she and so many other families are facing, she remains optimistic there will be a better tomorrow for children in Sudan.
At the shelter, mothers are working together to raise their children and take turns cooking meals – it is a shared responsibility during these uncertain times.
“There’s no place like home”
To support displaced families, UNICEF and partners have been conducting needs assessments at shelters hosting displaced people to help inform the emergency response. As a result, families have received water, sanitation and hygiene supplies such as water containers.
For now, this shelter in Madani is beginning to feel like home for Hawa. But she says that she still longs for normalcy.
“My children are asking about their school and their home,” she says. “I pray that the situation will return to normal so we can return to our home.
There’s no place like home.”