Monday April 3, 2017

‘She was the pillar of our family’

Tufail Hussain is currently in drought ravaged Somalia, assessing the situation and supporting Islamic Relief Somalia with the delivery of vital aid.

From his first day in Somalia, Tufail writes about the heart-wrenching story of a family he met in an IDP camp in Mogadishu.

Squalid camps

Over 360,000 Somalis, in and around Mogadishu are internally displaced people (IDP) – living in squalid and often dangerous camps, in makeshift homes built from any material they can lay their hands on.

Many families have lived under these appalling conditions since the famine of 2011 which claimed the lives of over 260,000 people.

The first family I met was Mohammed Ali Abdullah and his five young children – the oldest of which is nine.

He recounted an absolutely harrowing story.

“We first felt the severe effects of the drought many months ago,” he explained. “The lack of rainfall took the lives of most of my cattle. They were the main source of my income, and this left me with little money to buy food and provide for my family.

The devastation and heartache for the  family continued,  because shortly afterwards, Mohammed’s wife died from acute diarrhoea.

“She died about six weeks ago. I believe it was because of the poor quality water we were forced to drink for our survival. She was the pillar of my family – and the mother of my five beautiful children.  My sons and I will have to endure this great pain for the rest of our lives.”  

300km journey

The family had little time to mourn as life suddenly became an urgent battle to survive. In search of food,  water and better living conditions Mohammed and his children left behind all of their worldly possessions, and embarked upon an arduous 300km journey on foot.

They were one of the 150 new arrivals that recently took up residence in the camp. It is here they will remain, waiting in desperate hope for support.

Traumatic experience

Losing your mother at such a tender age is an incredibly traumatic experience for any child. It is heart wrenching to watch the young brothers, and their father, navigate their way through their pain, whilst having to endure the most extreme living conditions.

Across East Africa over 16 million people are currently suffering. Like Mohammed and his children, they face a daily fight for survival.

The test now, for us, is how we respond to help save lives.

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