triumph over harsh Darfur

Although Tears of the Desert was painful to read and brought me to tears, I could not bring myself to put it down.

A memoir by Halima Bashir about her survival of the atrocities in Darfur, it brings a personal and intimate perspective on the war that has for years ravaged the Sudanese region. Bashir teams up with Damien Lewis, who also co-authored Mende Nazer's Slave, a heart-wrenching recollection of her years of servitude.

Born into a loving and close-knit family, Bashir lived an almost idyllic life among the Zaghawa, a tribe of warriors.

Brought up by a kind father and a headstrong grandmother, she was taught to be proud. She was raised to believe that she was destined for greatness, thanks to being born with a single white eyelash revered by her tribesmen.

This attitude helped her flourish in a world that believes that, as a black child, she was worthy of being a slave.

She rose against people constantly trying to bring her down by using wit and on some occasions, her fists. Her fighting spirit grew from being harassed by bigoted Arab schoolmates and teachers who constantly provoked her and were quick to mete out harsh punishment. Her pride would ensure her survival when after qualifying as a doctor she was terrorised by Janjaweed militia for treating casualties of the war.

Bashir's activism prompted calls for intervention in the region and brought the use of rape in war to light.