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Donkey carts help single Somali mums in Kismayo to support their families

Friday June 10, 2022

The gift of a donkey cart has helped Farhio Ali Omar to improve life for herself and her 11 children, whom she is raising alone in an IDP camp in southern Somalia’s Kismayo.

She rises early in the morning and makes four trips fetching water with her donkey cart, selling the water to make 12 dollars a day. Her earnings enable her to pay school fees, the family meals, as well as fodder for the donkey.

“This donkey that I was given has changed everything in my life. I use it to transport firewood and water. It has become the backbone of our livelihood,” Farhio told Radio Ergo.

Farhio’s family moved to Kismayo from the rural area of Afmadow in 2016 when they lost 35 cows and 70 goats to drought. They are now living in Midnimo camp.

She is managing to pay a total of $15 a month for seven children in secular school and three also attending Koranic school.

Working with the cart is far more rewarding and easier for her physically than when she was working in a quarry and sometimes on construction sites, mostly with men.

“Despite it being tough work, it also wasn’t easy getting such jobs in construction every day,” Farhio said, recalling that sometimes she walked around most of the day looking for work unsuccessfully.

Twenty women-led families were given donkeys and carts in an attempt to empower them to earn a better living for themselves. Ten recipients were IDPs and 10 were former refugees who returned from Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya.

Qabow Maow Hanfow came home from Kampi Ows camp in Dadaab in 2015. She is now making about 10 dollars a day and says the uncertainty that had hung over her family and their lives has now been lifted with the donkey cart.

“It has helped me so much, I now have water that I don’t have to beg for, and firewood as well that I haven’t begged. I am now saved from begging and the desperate and humiliating life I have was leading before,” Qabow told Radio Ergo.

She has enrolled eight of her children in primary school and is paying $24 in fees. She can also afford to put three meals a day on the table. She is particularly happy that she can now spend time with her children and also has some free time.

“When I was working on a construction site, I used to leave for work at 6 am and come back home at 9 pm. I had no time for my children. I was earning 130,000 Somali shillings and after subtracting my lunch, what I brought home was just 120,000 shillings, too little for a large family like mine,” she said.

The initiative in March was supported by Alight with funding from German agency GIZ. Midnimo IDP camp chairman, Mahad Mohamed Hassan, said the families selected for the donkey carts had more than 10 children being raised by mothers alone.