Fati goes to school 2 or 3 times a week if she is lucky. She likes school. A lot. She has big dreams to one day become a nurse. Yet how can she attend school when she spends hours every day fetching water? When she returns home, she cooks for her siblings and cares for their every need.
Fati is Wodaabe. Her mother, like other Wodaabe women, leaves nearly 8 months a year to earn money in Nigeria or Chad selling traditional medicine. While her mother is away, Fati and her sister Houlaye care for their little 2 and 4-year-old brothers, and their 6-year-old sister. She insists that the 4 and 6-year-old go to school.
Fati and Houlaye alternate attending school. On the day that one goes to school, the other fetches water. And vice versa.
When I met Fati, her mother had already been gone for more than 2 months. There won’t be any way for her to recover all lessons she has missed throughout the year, leaving little possibility to attain her big dreams one day.