Trail of Hope by Mohamed Echkouna

A taxi driver sees a girl in the desert and gives her a ride home. Then, her dad reveals the truth.

Filmmaker Mohamed Echkouna tells the story of Abdallahi, a taxi driver from Mauritania who picks up a mysterious woman in the desert.

Abdallahi yells at his daughter, telling her to being him his clothes. When she does, he complains why it took so long. He gets into his taxi and drives off.

In the middle of the desert, he notices a woman on the side of the road and pulls over. Her name is Mariam and she needs to get back to the city. He asks what she’s doing in the desert — she doesn’t answer. He takes pity on the her and tells her to get in — he’ll drop her off.

When he asks again why she’s here, she says she has a house not too far from the road. He takes another look — nothing but sand.

She asks why he’s here. He says he doesn’t know, either. He just keeps driving until he finds a place that’s quiet — away from the city and its problems.

She tells him she is going back to take exams the next day.

They arrive at her home and she offers to pay him — but he can’t accept money from a student from nowhere. So they thank each other and he leaves.

Suddenly, he notices some papers on the seat. She forgot them. So he drives back to return them. But when he knocks on the door, an old woman answers. She doesn’t know who he’s talking about.

Then, an old man walks up. He takes a look at the papers. It’s true — they’re her papers and he invites him in for some tea.

He tells him that he’s Mariam’s dad and that she can no longer take the exams. When the Abdallahi asks, he just repeats that she can’t.

He tells her she liked school a lot, but she also loved her parents — so much that she never disobeyed or objected to anything they said.

One day, a man from their tribe came wanting to marry her, while she was preparing for exams. They had no choice but to pressure her into marriage. So she moved far from the city and couldn’t keep up with her studies.

Her parents had no idea her husband was abusive. If she disobeys him, he’d leave her in the desert for days.

Mariam called her parents and complained, but they kept telling her to be patient.

Abdallahi asks what they’ll do. Her dad says she doesn’t have a problem anymore — nobody can touch her anymore.

They get into the car and drive into the desert. Her dad tells him, one day, they were too late one night. Her husband beat her so badly she couldn’t make it to the hospital. Mariam died two years ago.

Years later, Abdallahi is at her grave, telling her about his own daughter. She’s really good in school and he is proud of her. And he hopes she stays motivated like she was. Then, he drive home to his family.

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