Vanessa, 12, was separated from her family in December 2010, during conflict in the Ivory Coast.
“I was coming from school when I heard the shooting and I was unable to reach home,” Vanessa said. “I had to run away and I followed my friends, I was very afraid. I haven’t seen my parents since and I feel very bad that I’m not with them.”
As Vanessa and three of her friends fled through the bush towards Liberia they ran into Hawa, a woman they knew from their village. Now they are all living in a refugee camp just outside Zorgowee town, Nimba county, about 30 km from the Liberian border with the Ivory Coast.
Waiting for news
Vanessa said: “When I saw Hawa it was a relief. I am friends with her children and she was looking for them as we were all running away, but I didn’t know where her children were.
“Even though I think about my parents and I’m lonely, I’m thankful that Hawa is taking care of me.
“When I arrived at the border town in Liberia, the Red Cross registered me because I was not with my parents and I’m still waiting for news about them. I didn’t have a number for my parents but I told the Red Cross my parents’ names and my village.”
Hungry and frightened
“This is a hard time and the biggest thing is that there is very little food. Also there is no school for me to go to and I only have three pieces of clothes.
“There is not much to eat here, I get a small portion of bulgar wheat and beans once a day but it’s not enough. I feel hungry all the time.
“I have two younger brothers and when I sit and think about how we used to play together I miss them a whole lot. I wonder what has happened to them. For the time being I want to stay here because I’m afraid to go back. I haven’t heard from my family and I’m frightened I won’t see them again.”
Read Inesse's story about being pregnant and a refugee