Jamila, her grandson, and an Oxfam partner, Afgooye, Somalia. Credit: Oxfam
Nearly half of Somalia’s population is now in need of humanitarian assistance

Holding onto hope in Somalia: Jamila's story

“I wish that my people would realize that fighting will claim their lives but never bring them back.”

Oxfam International has been working with a local partner, the Center for Education and Development, in Southern Somalia - providing assistance to over 8,000 vulnerable people to build a working sanitation system. We have assisted the local community to construct toilets, rehabilitate water taps and educate the local community about safe hygiene.

Jamila (not her real name), 83 years old and a grand mother staying with her son’s family in Afgooye, shares her story.

Afgooye is a 15km stretch of road outside of Mogadishu now home to more than 350,000 people who have been forced to flee their homes. 

Where did you live prior to coming to this camp and why did you come here?

“As an elderly mother, I was living with my son’s family in a village in the north-eastern part of Mogadishu. Our village was affected greatly by this conflict, there was fighting every day. Everybody fled from there – including us – the village is now ghost-like.” 

“I can still recall the situation when mortar shells hit our village. My son and grand children started to flee but I couldn’t walk - I told them to go away and leave me there, but they refused. I was taken on their shoulders to a safer place where transport was available. We took none of our household possessions and arrived here in Afgooye.”

How does life here compare with your life before you had to flee?

“How can I compare our former living conditions with this current displacement situation? My son was a school teacher while his wife was a merchant taking goods from the main market to our village to sell. The children were happy and going to school on a daily basis. The family was better off.”

“Now, what I see is a total collapse of our family living patterns. My son is no longer employed and his wife no longer has a business to attend to. The family’s income is totally disrupted and we have become poor. I feel sorry to see how this situation has affected my son’s family. As an older mother, I have lived most of my time in peace and happiness and what I am witnessing now is terribly awful.”

Are there problems you face in this displaced persons camp?

“The problems faced here include food shortages, poor shelter, lack of medical services and a lack of schooling for my grandchildren. On the other hand however, we do have sufficient water provided by Oxfam and their partner, the Center for Education and Development.”

How do you think your family can overcome the problems you face?

“We don’t want to be dependent on someone to feed us.  We need peace and security and this war to stop. I think my family could easily recover if the conflict ends and we return to our homes as result of the improvement in security. I have confidence that my son would get a proper job and that his wife would stand by him. Somalis need peace, and peace provides prosperity to all.”

What do you hope for in the near future?

“I hope that the fighting that drove us out of our home will soon end. This will happen if all Somalis equally and positively work for the well-being of our nation. I wish that my people, particularly the young generation, will realise that fighting will claim their lives but never bring them back. Allah bless my people and my country.”

February 2008

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