-written in story format-
My name is Dilfuza, but my friends call me Dil. In Persian my name means “pleasing heart” or “Illuminating soul”, which makes me seem all respected and powerful. To be honest, that’s not the way I’m feeling right now. Life in Uzbekistan isn’t pleasant, in fact, nothing’s worse than how the situation is currently put together. Life here is like one of those impossible, one-colored, a thousand-piece puzzle. It seems like a slice of Napaleon Torti (a type of Uzbekistan cake), but it’s not. No piece seems to fit with another, and no matter how hard you’re trying to finish the puzzle, it just doesn’t work. That’s how I feel about life right now.
Anyway, I’m twelve, and I have never been to school. Instead I work hard, day after day, to earn just enough money to live off of. I live with my mother and my little brother, who both stay home. At least, what we “call” home. We basically live in this tiny shack with a metal roof, right smack in the middle of a mine-field. Literally, if you were to look at a map of the area ad place your finger on where you think is the middle, it would be there. The worst part is that I have to cross the field of bombs each day just to get to work.
It’s a miracle that I’m still alive! Crossing the field is like walking over a terrain coated in sharp glass with bare feet. As a matter of fact, it’s worse. The actual fear of stepping on a land mine is immense and unbearable. Just thinking that one misplaced, little step can cost your life is petrifying.
“But why do you risk your life everyday to go to work?” Well, let me tell you why. I gather bamboo shoots to sell at a market. This is the only thing that me and my family can rely on as a source of money. I know it seems absurd that I have to cross this mine-filled field to earn a little bit of money, but it’s the only option I’ve got. If I don’t get money, I can’t buy food, or water, or clothes or shoes, or any other thing that we need. I need the money to support my mother and younger brother. Everyday they are both sitting at home, hoping I will make it back alive with money and dinner. I can’t let them down, therefore I will just have to face my fears and hope for the best.
By now you’re probably wondering why we don’t move to another house. Trust me, my mind has been there many times. One main reason is because of my brother. He is only two and has to be taken care of. My mom wants to live under a roof until he is a little bit older. She doesn’t want to risk the chances of giving up our house, just to go fishing and not catch any bait.
Secondly, we just don’t have the money to afford another place. Many families don’t even have the shelter to sleep in. All we know is that many organizations are looking into clearing all the mines, but all we can do is cross our fingers and hope it’s soon.