A Somali mother’s long journey to resilience

09 March 2015
A Somali mother’s long journey to resilience
Fatuma lives in a displaced camp, in a makeshift hut, in Beletweyne town in Somalia. The ICRC helps her with cash, transferred to her through a mobile phone platform. She lives in this small hut with all her kids and that’s why she plans to make use of the cash assistance to open a kiosk, so she can move on to better living conditions. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

I met Fatuma and her six kids at their makeshift hut in a camp for displaced families in Beletweyne, a town in central Somalia. With no income and very basic support from humanitarian organizations, she could not imagine any way out of poverty. Fatuma is among vulnerable mothers in the region benefiting from direct cash support provided by the ICRC through mobile phone platforms. Pedram Yazdi reports.

See also how Fatuma is doing one year later: International Women's Day 2016 - Somalia: Fatuma's family escapes hunger

"My wish is to open a tiny shop in the displaced camp and to sell basic items such as sugar, oil or tea. People here must walk half an hour to town to reach the nearest shop," says Fatuma.

Fatuma receives the cash and spends it through her mobile phone. The items she bought from the shop will enable her to engage in a business in order to lift her economic situation and be able to provide for her kids. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

In Beletweyne town, ICRC's cash assistance is provided to lactating and pregnant mothers who wish to develop an income generating activity. Some of them have in fact developed such activities but their income is not sufficient to reinvest and make it grow.

With the money, Fatuma can invest in essential items and sell them just in front her hut.

"I am the breadwinner of my family, and the best that I can wish for my children is to move them out of this camp to a decent place where they can go to school."

In 2014, the ICRC supported 203'128 persons in Somalia through cash transfer programmes using mobile platforms or cash-for-work activities.

A shopkeeper shows Fatuma her balance shortly after purchasing some goods. The small kiosk Fatuma is planning to open will serve the interests of other residents who live inside the displaced camp since it is far from town. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

Fatuma reads the message about the money she has received from the ICRC. The money is sent to her phone which she later uses to purchase items for her needs. Buying goods through mobile money transfer is used widely in Somalia. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

Fatuma smiles as she makes her way to do some shopping shortly after she received some cash on her mobile phone. She can now open a small shop and have a decent income to feed her kids properly. CC BY-NC-ND/ICRC/Pedram Yazdi