|Tuareg men in Mentao camp for Malian refugees|
Some hold it straight at the center of their mouth, others in the corner to take a noisy sip - letting all know it is really sweet. Even if you are not thirsty, your mouth will water and you will want to taste its sweetness for yourself.
It is milk, however, that is missed the most. Recently, during a conversation with young girls and women, they spoke at length about adding milk to the rations provided in the camp. Their words moved me. I remembered I had a 25ml bottle of milk in our car, which I had brought along for my own breakfast. I took it out and gave it to Aicha, a woman of 50, for her 2 year old granddaughter. Her actions surprised me.
She immediately opened the bottle, attracting at the same time another 5 children around her. She carefully poured a few drops into the bottle cap for each child to take a sip.
Another mother came with a cup. Aicha again carefully poured a few drops into the cup and the mother gave it to another child.
When we went in the tent, the tiny bit left in this 25ml bottle was shared between 3 other children. Not a drop was wasted. It seemed the milk was more precious than gold.
Surviving in the camps is difficult enough, keeping your culture alive and passing it on to the next generation might be impossible.