Ivorian War Widow Braves Week-Long Trek Across Border

Ill and elderly, Zeh Apoline arrived at Bahn refugee camp in Liberia after walking a week from her home in Côte d'Ivoire.

Copyright: WFP/Roslyn Ratliff

When fighting broke out in Cote d’Ivoire last December, Zeh Apoline—an elderly fruit vendor who lost her husband and three children during Cote d’Ivoire’s 2002 Civil War—wasted no time in fleeing across the border into Liberia. She’s now recovering from the trip, which left her sick and exhausted, with the help of regular, nutritious meals.

BAHN (Liberia)--Zeh Apoline, an elderly widow from the village of Danane, had good reason to flee across the border when fighting broke out in Cote d’Ivoire. She lost her husband and three of five children to an airstrike during the last bout of civil unrest between 2002 and 2004.

When fighting broke out last November, she embarked on the week-long trek across the border by herself. By the time she arrived, she had fallen ill and her feet were so swollen she could hardly walk.

Weeks later, she still hasn’t recovered completely, but the peas, cereal, oil and bulgur wheat that she’s fed at the Bahn refugee camp are helping to get her back onto her feet.

"Once I am well," she says, "I want to be where people will accept me and treat me like family."