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Journey Nomad Teacher Asia Rihana Mohamed The songs Schools Sara Cameron McBean Sudan Bangladesh   Brazil   Colombia   India   Iraq   Kenya   Nepal   Papua New Guinea   Senegal   Sudan   Tanzania

Originally produced for UNICEF



Mohamed’s story

This is the final Nomad School report card of Mohamed Abdulla, age 7, who died the day before we visited his Kawahla community near Umm Badr. He was stung by a desert scorpion while watching the goats. The family insisted that I should have the card, to be sure we would remember him.


Mohammed, aged 12, from the Ababda Branch, of the Kawahla Tribe

Collecting firewood is girl work. A boy would never pick up firewood. We would be too ashamed. Sometimes we fetch water after school but mostly we look after the animals. Looking after the animals is really the work of boys and men. It is true that girls sometimes look after goats but they are not good at it. Boys are better because we are not afraid like girls. When they go out with their goats I think they are afraid of getting lost or something.

The migration is a very happy time for everyone. We take the animals, the beds, the mats. We pack up everything and load the donkeys. Some of us ride on top and some of us walk. The boys and men sing songs as we go along. The girls and women sometimes sing as well but they have their own songs. Our songs are very old and in classical Arabic and some of them are very funny. We spend the dry season near Um Badr but during the wet season we head south.

The best part of the migration is when we ride through the forest because it is cool, shady and very beautiful. Usually we stop at the same place every wet season but last year the rain didn’t come so we had to go further south. When we reach the wet-season land we unload the donkeys and start making our houses. The men cut the trees and the grasses and the women build the houses, but the men and boys build the school.

It takes two days to get everything organized. Then we get up in the morning as usual, make our prayer, milk the goats, drink tea and when the teacher rings the bell we run to the school.