Barikisu is 11 years old and lives in northern Ghana with her parents and five siblings. Her family does not have a home, but instead they follow their herd of cows across the land.
Hello, my name is Barikisu, and I am 11 years old. I live in a place called The Overseas in northern Ghana. It’s called The Overseas because it rains a lot! Some months, there is so much water that all the roads are completely covered.
Ghana is a country in Africa. Whether it’s raining or dry, it is always hot! To the north of Ghana is the Sahara Desert, but my country is tropical and has plenty of trees and green plants. To the south of Ghana is the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean provides a lot of fish, which is the most common food in Ghana. It’s difficult for my family to get fish, though, because we don’t live in a village with other people. We spend most of our time by ourselves and we usually eat what we can gather from the land.
I am part of the Fulani tribe. Many years ago, my great-grandparents lived in Nigeria, but like many other Fulani families, they moved west and settled in Ghana. My family moves a lot, because of the work we do.
My father owns lots of cows. That’s how we make a living, but it’s also why we are always travelling. We don’t have a pen or a field to keep our cattle in, so wherever they decide to walk, we follow them. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes I wish my family had a home we could stay at without moving. Most of the time, we live in huts that we build out of mud and sticks for shelter. Because we sometimes have to build houses quickly, my father and mother, my five siblings, and I all share one room.
I’m the oldest child in my family, so I am responsible to help my mother with all the cooking and cleaning, but my most important chore is milking the cows. Every morning before the sun comes up, I take a pail to the cows and get as much milk as I can. It is a difficult job, and my brothers’ will herd the cows with my father, so I milk them by myself. But I have become friends with them. I named one Binta, and another Dalanda. Sometimes I will talk with them when I’m feeling angry or sad.
Many of the children in the villages nearby go to school every day, but my siblings and I don’t. We are too busy with chores, and my parents say that school is a waste of time. All we need to know, my father says, is how to take care of the cows. I wish I could go to school and learn to read and write, but I know that my life is better than some. My friend, Kadiatou, is two years older than me, and her father sent her to be married to her uncle. She is his third wife. Someday soon, my father will find a husband for me, but until then, I will continue to take care of the cows and my younger siblings.