By Javier de Blas in Tindouf, Algeria
Between February and March 2015 I spent a month living with a Sahrawi family in their "haima" in the refugee camps of Tindouf. Every Tuesday, I'm posting here the notes and sketches I made about daily life in the camps.
Daira: City hall, municipality. Each wilaya consists of several daira that mark their boundaries, preserving spaces between each of them with a less density of construction.
Haima: home. In the nomadic Sahara, the tents are made with camel's hair and are covered
with cloth inside. In the camps today the "haimas" include daar and gaitun.
Darr: Adobe buildings intended for living rooms-bedrooms and kitchen. In a small annexed
building the bathroom and toilet are situated.
Gaitun/gaitoon: In English, reads "guytoon". A fabric tent, usually in front of the main gate of the daar. They replaced the traditional "haimas" used in the dessert. The gaitoon are made of canvas and they are accompanied by auxiliary adobe buildings, giving the whole group a new "haima"concept.
Melhfaa: Traditional female dress composed of a very long cloth that wraps around the body ending at the head, veil and headscarf. They come in many colors and combinations delighting the sight.
Daraa: Male attire like a cape with a bluish colour almost white with ochre ornaments. Sleeves covering the hands, but usually they roll them up, decorating the shoulders with graceful folds.
Taxi: Taxis here are private cars. They charge you 400DA to take you to another wilaya. If the taxi is full, you pay 100DA. They are a source of income in a population where jobs are scarce and unstable.
Tzagait: A shrill sound that the women make moving the tongue.
Tindouf: An Algerian city that has grown with the development of refugee camps. At first it
was a military base without access to civilians. The increasing demand for goods within the
camps, has made it the capital of the region. The airport receives aid workers and visitors to the camps.
Wilaya: In Arabic, means city. The Sahrawi refugees have been putting names to their camps of the cities they had left when Morocco occupied Western Sahara.
The six wilaya of Tindouf camps are: L'Aaiun, Aussert, Rabouni, Budjour, Smara and Dakhla.
The wilayas have the appearance of immense villages, the houses are made of adobe with one floor and generally with a patio and gaitun.