Anna's Reviews > Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur

Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir
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's review
Sep 14, 2008

really liked it
Read in September, 2008

Tears of the Desert is the memoir of Halima Bashir, a young woman who witnessed many atrocities in her homeland of Darfur and was courageous enough to speak out. Halima had an ordinary childhood as a member of the Zaghawa tribe. Life was carefree for the most part, doing chores and playing with other children in the village. Her father was the wealthiest man in the village (not rich by our standards, however), so Halima and her family enjoyed more comforts than the other village residents, including a Land Rover, a television, and a radio. Halima had a very close relationship with her father, who supported and furthered her desire for higher education, allowing her to postpone marriage to become the village's first doctor.

Life changed dramatically for Halima when the Arab-led Sudanese government waged war against the black Africans in Darfur. After speaking out about the horrors she witnessed caring for the war wounded in the hospital in Hashma, Halima was forced to serve as doctor in a remote village. It was in this village of Mazkhabad that the war really hit home. After treating 42 schoolgirls between the ages of 7 and 13 (in addition to a young teacher) who were raped and beaten by the Janjaweed, or devil horsemen (a militia helped by the Sudanese government), and speaking to United Nations workers about the brutality she'd witnessed, Halima was captured, raped, and tortured. But more atrocities awaited Halima in her home village.

There are graphic scenes of rape, torture, and other horrors of war in Tears of the Desert. Many times I had to close the book and take a deep breath to calm my anger and sadness. It was hard to read, but at least it was only reading for me. Could you imagine living such a life? Could you imagine what it must have been like to hide in the woods and hear your loved ones being beaten, shot, or thrown into the fire? Could you imagine being treated so horribly only because you are a black African and not an Arab?

Halima writes in such a way that she becomes your friend; you know her life story, her hopes, her dreams. Her words are laced with pain, but we readers can never understand what she went through. I closed the book angry that in this day and age, such atrocities are allowed to occur. Why isn’t more being done?

Full review on Diary of an Eccentric

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