Tears of the Desert- Wounds and Illnesses

If there are chapters missing, that is because no illnesses or wounds were discussed in it.

Chapter 1- The Naming

  • Halima recalls a moment where a man is about to rape her, and while fighting the man, he stabs her in the leg with a knife (5).
  • After birth, a mother is considered too weak to go about her everyday life, so she is to lie in her bed and rest for 40 days (7).
  • Halima’s father, Abba, has two vertical scars on his head from the scarring processes that a Zaghawa child must go through. They were thought to prevent eye infections (9-10).

Chapter 2- Grandma’s Trip to the Lost Valley

  • Halima’s grandmother, Abu, also has two deep diagonal scars on her forehead, along with many others on her face (13).
  • Halima explains how her grandmother had given birth to a child, but it had died soon after. She said that this was not uncommon in their part of Africa (14).

Chapter 3- Moon-Bone Madness

  • Mohammed, Halima’s brother, was beat up by kids from another tribe. He came home with mud all over his face and scratch marks from head to toe (30).
  • Halima goes to her friend’s house and gets drunk for the first time (34).
  • Mohammed received his scarring from his mother and grandmother. They try to do this to Halima, but she kicks and screams until her grandmother lets her go (37).

Chapter 4- Mo, Omer, and Me

  • Halima’s mother wakes up with a pain in her ear, and the family is worried an insect may have crawled inside of it. To get the insect out, Abu decides to put gasoline in her ear. At first nothing happened, and then Halima’s mother started to cough, heaving, and clutching at her throat. She could hardly breathe, and she was getting weaker by the second (40).
  • She was taken to the hospital and was told that the gasoline had gone into her stomach and lungs.  She was allowed home after a while, and she was not allowed to expose her chest to any of the fire and smoke (40-41).
  • The family’s cowboy came into the village one afternoon bloody and torn and very scared. He had just been attacked by the Ahrao (50).

Chapter 5- The Cutting Time

  • While playing one day, a man reached out and ripped Halima’s white eyelash almost out of her eye. Halima’s eye was in a lot of pain, and had closed over completely.  After a week, the swelling went down and it was back to normal (52).
  • Halima had to undergo the “circumcision” that every Zaghawa girl must go through as a rite of passage. This is a major form of genital mutilation and it was extremely painful for Halima. She was horrifically cut by knives and without any pain medication whatsoever. Halima described the pain, saying that “The pain was so unbearable that it had taken over my whole head, driving me to the borders of insanity.” (56-58)
  • Whenever Halima would try to go to the bathroom it was unbearable for her.  Her legs were ties together so she could not walk, in order to help the healing process (58-59).
  • Halima mentions how many Zaghawa girls die during their cutting time simply from the pain, or have problems in the future having children (59).

Chapter 6- School Days

  • After Halima refuses to clean the side of the room that was the responsibility of an Arab girl, the teacher beats her with a broomstick on her legs (77).

Chapter 9- The White Eyelash Attack

  • Halima’s little brother, Omer, tries to cut off Halima’s white eyelash with a carving knife, cutting her eyelid very badly. After this attack, she was experiencing intense pains in her stomach and vomiting up all of her food (109-111).

Chapter 10- Cousins in Love

  • Halima witnesses brutal abuse of a black man by an Arab policeman. He punched his face, beat him with his baton, and bloodied the man so bad he almost died (124-125).

Chapter 14- Rumors of War

  • A method of healing was used for migraines and jaundice that involved burning the skin with a red-hot knife. Other harmful healing methods included the slicing open of a goiter to try and “drain” it. This could be a huge problem, making the patient prone to infection and/or bleeding to death (160-161).

Chapter 15- Medicine Woman

  • The Zaghawa medicine woman, Halima, became very ill. She could no longer treat herself and she knew that it was she was about to die. This is a time that they call “sinya nee.” (173)
  • When Halima gets a new job, she explains how there was, “an endless stream of blood and guts and horror, and the work was tough and exhausting.” (178)

Chapter 16- Accident and Emergency

  • Halima describes her time being spent exclusively on swabbing bloody wounds, stitching wounds, cleaning wounds, and casting broken limbs (179).
  • She was presented with two young boys who were very badly burned. Their father had been gunned down and they had been thrown into a burning hut alive. Halima explains how she cleans and dresses these wounds every morning (179-180).
  • A small Zaghawa boy had came into the clinic with the whole side of his face tore off by gunfire. He was missing an eye and he was very badly burned on his face (180).
  • Many, many children had come in due to war injuries. There were burns and disfigurements, and a ton of gunshot wounds. There was a particular boy that had come in that had been shot in the back once and then again in his body that was left to die (180). His father had found him and he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He was paralyzed, but the boy managed to survive thanks to Halima.
  • Halima becomes very nauseous and sick after she is taken and scared by Arabic police (188)

Chapter 17- Mission to Mazkhabad

  • Her first day on the job, Halima is presented with an older woman who was as thin a skeleton. She had yellowish eyes, and she also had “club finger,” a typical sign of liver failure where the fingernails curl over the fingers (196).
  • A boy is brought in to the clinic, with a large gash in his leg from a piece of tin that had sliced it open. He was bleeding very profusely, and Halima put a tourniquet on it to lessen the flow. She described that it was so bad she could see his thighbone through the cut muscle (198-199).

Chapter 18- Rebel Doctor

  • A rebel warrior brought himself in with a horrible calf wound. A bullet had passed clean through it, just missing his bone (203).
  • Halima was flooded in the clinic with rebel fighters all bearing gunshot wounds (204).
  • After a school was attacked by the Janjaweed, little girls were brought in with their uniforms bloodied and ripped, and they were crying for help (209-210).

Chapter 19- Black Dogs and Slaves

  • Halima brings the first girl into the clinic; her face had been bloodied from the butt of a rifle. She needed stitches.  The worst came though when Halima lifted up her uniform. She explained that the little girl’s thighs were covered in scratches and cut marks. It looked as though, “a pack of wild animals had been clawing at her.” (212)
  • The little girl had been circumcised like Halima, and the Arab policemen had ripped the little girl apart (213).
  • All of the little girls that were brought into the clinic had been circumcised and raped and fell victim to other brutal acts of sexual violence (215).

Chapter 20- They Come For Me

  • Halima is captured and brought to an Arab military camp where she is beaten terribly. She was kicked in the stomach, legs, and even her face. Her fingers were broken; hair was pulled, and tied up so that her arms were being torn from their sockets (223-225).
  • One of the Arab men stabs Halima in the leg (226).
  • Halima’s breast is cut open, and then the men take turns raping her (227).
  • While being abused, Halima was also burnt with cigarettes, and cut in many places with knifes from the men (227).
  • Grandma Sumah had passed away from a stroke (231).

Chapter 22- The Devil Horsemen

  • After the Zaghawa village is attacked by Arab armies, Halima describes the people left behind that were torn apart by the bullets but had still managed to survive (241).
  • Halima finds her friend Kadiga’s sister shot dead in her home, with her newborn baby beside her thrown into a fire (243).
  • Survivors of the attack were injured with gunshot wounds, burns, shrapnel poisoning, and stabbings (244).
  • There was a woman who had been mistaken for dead, who was in a state of shock and the trauma was killing her (245).

Chapter 23- A Time of Fear

  • There were children in the village after the attack with burns covering their entire body. Their skin was blistering off (250).
  • Many women who had lost everything lost their minds, hugging themselves, and rocking back and forth constantly (250).

Chapter 25- The Hostel of Despair

  • Halima becomes depressed in the hostel. She had no exercise and little food, and she was becoming very lonely (278).

Chapter 26- In London, In Love

  • Halima became very sick because of an infection in her stomach (282).

Chapter 27- Breaking the Silence

  • Halima becomes pregnant, and as it progresses she becomes very weak and tired (287).
  • She finds out that she has chronic anemia, and that she was bleeding inside of the womb. She was constantly losing blood which was very serious (287).
  • Halima was hospitalized because she was so weak, and there was where she gave birth to her son.  The placenta was stuck to the baby, and she was bleeding very heavily. She was told that she would have to give birth by caesarian, but her pregnancy was too far along and after a while she had the baby naturally. Halima passed out during this, because of the loss of blood (289).



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