Despite being displaced Maryan turns over a new leafDespite the good efforts by humanitarian actors to provide assistance in response to the harsh drought in Somalia in 2017, a lot of displaced families were still lacking food in 2018. DRC provided life-saving cash assistance to Somalis this year after another conflict broke out in the country. Efforts to restore livelihoods are finally starting to show results
When conflict erupted in the outskirts of Qoryoole, a town in the lower Shabelle region of Somalia, Maryan Sheikh Hassan and her family fled to Bilkheyr camp in Mogadishu’s Kaahda district. Maryan now lives here with her 12 children and husband in a simple one-roomed makeshift house. Having survived the drought in 2017, Maryan’s children were already very weak and needed urgent help to enable them to endure this new calamity caused by the new conflict.
“I had a small farm in Qoryoole, I also sold samosas and vegetables from my farm on a small table at the market. I had four huts, a toilet and a kitchen. Life was mostly good,” Maryan explained, “even though there was no school in our village. I took some of my children to a traditional dugsi (a non-official school that teaches the Quran) and we were happy and content with the little we had.”
When DRC’s livelihood team met Maryan and her family, they were in a desperate state as the last rations of food donated by well-wishers were ending. Misery was written all over in Maryan’s face as she wondered what to do next. Through the ECHO-funded Somali Cash Consortium, we registered the family and in a week’s time we supported them with a first instalment of cash grant of 70 US dollars. In the next three months, a regular cash transfer of 70 US dollars was transferred to Maryan’s phone, immediately solving the family’s food requirements.
With the transfer she received, Maryan even started a small kiosk. She says: “I was afraid of losing my children in the conflict, I needed to secure their future and once we put food on the table, my first step was to save some of the money. When I received the money I used part of it to start a small kiosk. I kept adding stock to my kiosk each month I received money.“ She adds: “I received 70 US dollars for three months at first; then I received additional 70 US dollars for another three months. This helped me sustain my kiosk and now I have good stock and make a profit.“
Maryan is now able to provide for her family from the income she makes thanks to her little shop. Her husband works as a casual labourer and always helps her when he is free by bringing her stock or selling food at the shop.
Her small business at the internally displaced person’s centre has attracted many customers who regularly buy their domestic requirements at her shop. Isha Abdi is one of her customers. She says: “ I buy my daily food rations from Maryan because she is nice to us, sometimes she gives me items and I pay later when I can afford to. I am very happy with the services she provides us. Maryan is willing to add more value to the business by providing quality products (groceries) and ensure customer satisfaction while maintaining the demands of her customers.”
“I am happy with the changes in my life, the cash I received truly helped me out of hard times,“ finishes Maryan.
Abshir Mohamed Abdi is Maryan’s eldest son. He is 15 years old. He is happy that he now goes to school. He says that his favourite subjects are Somali, English and Science. “My school is a little far away. I walk there but I am happy to be in school. I help my mum when I come back from school with small chores.”
When asked how his life was previously he says: “We live a comfortable life now, before we were hungry and we had quite a lot of problems. We would only eat once a day. I am happy that both my parents work and try to provide for us. I hope my mum’s kiosk becomes a big shop someday.”