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On Sunday, another death occurred in my world when our neighbour Malam Mamuda lost his daughter Jamila to malaria.

Jamila (in black, bottom row) & Aichatu, Adama and friends

I met Jamila often. Even when her family moved away and only her father stayed to continue his bike repair shop, Jamila came by to stay with her grandparents. Like Aichatu, she was one of my special friends and she always had something to tell me. When I last saw her some two weeks ago, I met her on the street as I was entering the gate. She checked to see if I had received the information that Pic – my dog Dennis’ twin brother – had passed away at the ripe age of ten. I did not know then that that very day would be the last time I saw her.

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I took my last picture of her less than a month ago. I heading home for a walk with Sheba and took pictures of a brilliant sky. Jamila stopped me and asked me if I couldn’t take pictures of her.

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The light was not the best but I had my camera out and was happy to take a couple of shots. Had I known then that my little friend would slip away so suddenly, I would have taken more.  I would have stayed longer. I would have talked some more. I would have given her my time. Sometimes we adults forget all too easily how important it is to live every day as it is the last – something children do naturally. Jamila was a good teacher at that.

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Knowing her family did not have a picture of Jamila in their possession, I looked through the archives and found a portrait alternative from 2008, when Jamila and Aichatu asked me for a photoshooting session. The session was a fun life-quality moment that ended up on the blog. I settled for a picture where Jamila looked serious enough to please Nigerien photo-shooting culture, but still had the Jamila-twinkle in her eyes that I will be missing so much.

Jamila, my friend. I am so sorry you had to go.