The Greatest Desert Sahara: Saharan Savanna Style of living

The Greatest Desert Sahara: Saharan Savanna Style of living

In the early spring of last year I found myself in a refugee camp in the middle of the Sahara desert. Sand,  everywhere around me, reminded me every minute that I am, in fact, in the middle of nothing alive. Except people.  While I was looking for the reason of my arrival there, I met people who have been living in exile, nearly forgotten by the world. No drinking water in the near, no conditions for growing the food, no electric power. Only people.

Like everything else in our lives, in our world, there is something rich and shiny in modesty and poverty – their eyes and the children’s smiles. Without most of modern toys, they appreciate the bicycle that seven of them share or they just take a sandy stone and write or draw something on. In many of their sparkling eyes I have seen desire for knowing more, for learning about the world. That made me thinking about us, do we have the same desire for knowing something about them?

children sahara savanna style living travel dejavu

Saharawis, the people who live in the dead part of Algerian Sahara desert, expelled from their homes in Western Sahara forty years ago, organized their nurseries, elementary and high schools, medical care… they life, where no life is possible. Life filled with uncertainty and lack of basic living conditions did not discourage Saharawi people to enrich their lives with knowledge required for the advancement of their society. That places them above the world’s average in literacy and educational level.

Children grow up fast there into people whose faces can tell their life, their destiny. Whipped by the wind that carries sand everywhere, burned by the sun that mercilessly beats by day and missing its heat in cold Saharan nights, they harden and grow old prematurely. The spark of joy, but also the sadness that you catch in their eyes when they don’t know you’re watching, tells the story of a humble and simple desire what the modern world has forgotten to wish – their own homes, drinking water and freedom.

children school saharan savanna style living travel dejavu

After I saw their travelling library with just a few books inside, that made me thinking about what can I do for them, for their better childhood, for at least one of them to make his/hers life meaningful? With a great help of one of their teachers, we collected short writings of Saharawi children from refugee schools, translated from Arabic to English and Croatian language and make a trilingual book of their dreams and wishes. Within that year of working on this project, holding travel presentations about Sahara and Saharawis all around my country, collecting the funds to print the book, appearing in all sorts of media, many people found out the story about the forgotten childhood that they didn’t know anything about. People cried, they were thinking about the story for days after we met, sending their good thoughts to the children of the desert, sharing their good energy around this project – and we did it! The book was here, “The Voice from Sahara” was ready to be transported back to the kids who wrote it.

You may also like to read : Derinkuyu – The Cappadocian underground city

saharan savanna style living travel dejavu

Dark night in the desert, again. Hugs, tears and smiles of old friends, Saharawi families and their “members” from all around the world. I am in the Sahara, in Saharawi refugees camp Smara, finding my heart again, with the people who were waiting for me. Bringing the books, school accessories and two of my friends with me, to place their harts in the sand of Sahara too.

Want to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Visit the community forum to ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!


Damir Vujnovac

Wildlife inspires me as well as urban areas, in the cities I'm finding people, in the deserts I'm finding myself. My journeys lasts much longer with published stories and with well visited travelogue lectures in libraries.


  1. Life has changed so much. I often feel that as our quality of life gets better we tend to forget our past. My life with the stormy tempest of storms, flickering candles, hard manual work and it’s up and downs is a treasured memory of the past. I wonder if the children of today’s world would value the same hardships that I do? Would they appreciate that the hardships make us who we are? More importantly will they be able to empathize in future with those who are far less fortunate? It is a thought that I ponder on and I am not to sure of the answer.

    • Thank you Penny, you already gave the answer picking the most important things/moments out of this subject. We should do our best to show our kids the right values. It is up to them then if they will appreciate it, but we have to try hard to be a good model for them.

  2. What a touching and nice story. Keep up the good work! 🙂

  3. That’s a very cool project. What a great idea to collect the writings of the children.

  4. What a great idea!

    I’m reading a book on Cambodian refugees and it definitely makes you think twice about what we consider necessities, and how much we take for granted.

  5. What a beautiful experience. I hope that you are fulfilled working with children who most need love and attention, refugees. Would love to do similar work in the future.

  6. That was such a heart warming read and I admire you for getting involved in such a project. Telling the world about these children and making a book with their writings is such a great idea to raise awareness. Every child should have a happy childhood!

  7. I would love to do something like this. It’s ashtonishing how much we have and how little they have. I hope for world harmony.

  8. So many goosebumps! Thank you for sharing and portraying it so beautifully. Please let me know how I can help!

  9. In spite of adversity, the smile on the faces of the children is really admirable. The resilience of children and their innocence is worth its weight in gold. Loved reading the post. A reminder to us who have all the comforts to spare a thought for others who live in harsh conditions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Yes No