40 year old Bullo is working in her small tea shop in the bustling streets of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Bossasso. As she attentively caters pancakes and tea to customers, one cannot tell the loss Bullo has faced.
Like most IDPs, Bullo fled her hometown with nothing but a few belongings due to conflict and increased insecurity. Upon arriving at the IDP camp her only priority, as a mother of six, was to ensure that the family had enough income to meet their basic needs. But the money she received doing odd jobs could not sustain her family. Hence, she was forced to ask for the help of her eldest daughter and son, Hibaq and Ahmed, to supplement the family’s income. “They would go to fetch water from a community water point in the camp and sell it to our neighbours,” she recalls. This usually involves carrying jerry cans of water for long distances as community water points are far removed from the camps. “I did this because I had no choice. I wanted my children to survive. I wanted them to get food and water and this was the only option we had. The money I was making was not enough for us,” she explains.
Bullos’ demeanor quickly changes as she narrates the day she suffered a mother’s greatest loss: “my daughter was carrying a 20 litre jerry can and was on her way back to the camp when she slipped and fell. The jerry can hit her on the head. I took her to the hospital, hoping they could save her. But the impact was severe and she died a few days later due to the injuries.”
‘’I only wanted her to help me with taking care of her younger siblings, cook for them, and help them because I could not do this alone. Their father was not with us and I needed help, but if I hadn't sent her to work she would be alive today,’’ she says, grief stricken.
In Somalia, 49% of children work at a very young age due to pressure to support the family and feed their younger siblings and many of these children engage in difficult jobs within the IDP camps and pastoral communities. The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa funds the Durable Solution for IDPs and Returnees in Somalia project which is part of the €50 million RE-INTEG Programme. The project contributes to the sustainable integration of Internally Displaced People, Somali returnees and refugees in Somalia to improve access to basic quality services giving them dignity and hope. Bullo received counseling after the death of her daughter and to protect her children from further harm, she received cash assistance from Save the Children which she used to open the tea shop where she works today, selling tea and pancakes.
‘’I will not send my children to work again. I live with the guilt of losing my daughter,’’ Bullo says.
- Publication date
- 24 August 2018
- Region and Country
- Greater economic and employment opportunities