As violence increases in Cote d’Ivoire, tens of thousands of people are fleeing into neighbouring Liberia. Mako Jean is one of them. She told CAFOD’s Sam Danse her remarkable story.
On the night of 24 February, we were woken up by heavy gunfire. We started running out of our village towards the Liberian border. I was with two of my daughters and one of my sons. I’m a very old woman and I could barely run, so my son carried me on his shoulders. We ran into the dark. I could hardly see.
When my son couldn’t carry me any further, he put me down – but we could still hear gunshots behind us. I don’t know where my strength came from, but I ran on my own. But then I tripped over and fell flat on the ground. I wounded my leg. I got up and continued running until I couldn’t go on any more.
I spent the night in the bush and I could barely sleep. I had no idea where my daughters and my son were.
At dawn, I started walking again. My leg was hurting, so I used a walking stick and hopped. I went as gently as I could. It was still painful. I had no alternative. All I can think is that God gave me the strength to continue. He did not want me to die.
Then I heard some people talking. I realised that I must be near a village and that I had crossed into Liberia. I hopped towards the people and cried out for help. Two young boys came to me. I asked if they could direct me to the village of Glarlay, where one of my daughters lives with her husband.
The boys helped me, and brought me to Glarlay. To my surprise, my son and my other two daughters were already there. I had been separated from them on the night we fled. When I saw them again, I wept.
My daughter who lives here in Glarlay is looking after other relatives as well. All together, there are 29 of us staying in her house. We all sleep on this floor. It’s very crowded.
There’s hardly any food to eat. It’s been three weeks since we arrived and we’ve have no assistance from anywhere. My daughters go to work every day on someone else’s farm just to earn enough so we have something to eat.
This morning, I had one scoop of cassava. Since then, I haven’t had any food. I am hungry. I sometimes need to go out on the street and beg just so I can get something to eat.
I pray to God that help comes soon. Otherwise we could die of hunger or cold.
With refugees pouring out of Liberia, the population of Glarlay has doubled in the last few months. Our humanitarian staff are on the ground and working with our Caritas partners to respond to the emergency.