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Zainab’s story: A courageous mother providing food for her children

The hardships of displacement are multifaceted, shaped by the enduring effects of drought and the constant spectre of conflict. These challenges cast a shadow on the stability we once knew, making each day a testament to resilience in the face of adversity.

Posted on 09 May 2024

Zainab’s journey began with the forceful displacement from Sigle village of Burhakaba district in the Bay region of Somalia in 2023, driven by the harrowing realities of conflict. Fleeing with her eight children and other families, she endured hunger and thirst during a challenging journey that led them to the relative safety of Eleemow IDP camp in Baidoa town.

She faced an unforeseen tragedy when her husband, the family's sole breadwinner working as a coal burner, went missing five years ago. The incident occurred during a typical night when he was loading sacks of charcoal onto a donkey cart in the area where coal was extracted. Sadly, he was attacked by gunmen, and his whereabouts remain unknown to this day.

As the sole provider for her family, Zainab sought irregular casual labour jobs, like washing clothes for local families, to meet their basic needs and ensure she can put food on the table for her children. Zainab’s commitment to her children's welfare is evident as she embarks on a journey from the IDP camp to Baidoa town, seeking opportunities to secure daily sustenance. The challenges she encounters resonate deeply with the hardships faced by single mothers in IDP camps, emphasizing the urgent need for support and sustainable solutions.

Despite her determined efforts, she faced the constant worry of her children's well-being and witnessed the challenges they encountered, such as the longing looks at cooking classes by other children in the neighbourhood.

Challenges compounded during the autumn rains when Zainab’s shelter, with a deteriorating roof, failed to protect them, resulting in the loss of the little food supplies and household items. Neighbours stepped in to help, demonstrating the resilience within their community. Zainab’s livelihood was further impacted during the last rainy season, reducing her income from cleaning work to 1 to 2 dollars or nothing on some days. The struggle intensified, with limited movement during floods hindering her ability to earn.

In response to the flooding in Baidoa district in late November 2023, DRC, through the Somali Cash Consortium funded by the European Union, provided multipurpose cash assistance to IDP households in Eleemow IDP camp, including Zainab Hasan. The impact of this intervention was transformative. Zainab, once burdened by thoughts of borrowing flour to feed her children, experienced a newfound sense of hope. The cash assistance enabled her to purchase essential items, repay debts, and pay her children's Quranic school fees, restoring stability and dignity to her family's life.

The amount received monthly has made a significant difference, enabling me to meet the essential needs of my family. I can now pay for school fees, and ensure my children’s Quranic education, I am no longer worrying about the burden of putting food on the table for them.

/  Zainab

Despite the challenges faced, there is a resounding sense of hope among these communities. The tangible improvements in their lives, instills confidence in the prospect of a better tomorrow. The belief that positive change is not only possible but actively underway fuels the optimism for a brighter and more secure future.

Zainab’s story is shedding light on the real impact of humanitarian projects and the continued support needed for individuals like her in Somalia, particularly when the new rainy season is about to hit Somalia again.

In response to the pressing needs of displaced communities facing eviction and flooding, DRC has implemented the Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance project. Through the Somali Cash Consortium (SCC), funded by the European Union, DRC has been delivering multi-purpose cash assistance to displaced households profoundly impacted by eviction and flooding. The project is made possible through the generous support of the European Union, emphasizing collaborative efforts to address the urgent humanitarian needs of affected populations.

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