Graduates

“Throughout my life I have faced many hardships,” says Zainab, a 43-year-old woman who lives in Ogbagbala village in Kogi State, Nigeria. She is married and has six children—three boys and three girls, ages 5 through 25.

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Kadire Tahiraj is a mother of three, and lives with her husband and children in a small two room house.

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For Valbona, the war in Kosovo destroyed everything she and her family had. “We tried to stay in Kosovo for as long as we could. My husband and I fled our village to escape the violence. In April 1999, things became too unstable and dangerous, so we left for Albania.

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Awham remembers the year the war started in Iraq, and the additional hardships she faced after her husband fell ill and lost his job. “I was left to care for my four children with no income.

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I was a happy woman, wife, and mother before the war came to my front door. After high school, I wanted to earn some money and explore the city so I went to be a babysitter for a family in Bukavu.

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I was born in 1975. I wanted to be a doctor when I was young. But I had to stop secondary school when my father died. I was very sad and even angry to have stopped going to school, but I had no choice as my mother was sick and I had to work to support her.

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My last name, Dudic, is one that I got from marriage. Even though I am divorced, I have never changed it back. I have a son and a daughter, and my wrecked marriage has actually yielded some good.

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And I don’t count my years. Just joking. I am 48 and I am probably soon going to be 50.

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I am 39 years old. I am originally from Guhr province and my father was one of the famous and wealthy people in his province. He had nine daughters and five boys. My childhood was the most beautiful time in my life.

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I am 38 years old. There was no happiness in my childhood. When I was six years old, my brother lost a dog-fighting match and started fighting with my cousin which led to my cousin’s death.

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