To mark this year’s World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, Radio Ergo profiled three volunteer humanitarian workers in Baidoa, in Somalia’s South West state. Our reporter Muhyadin Husni spoke to them about their motivation for helping others.
Ruqiya Sheekh Cabdullahi, 22, heads a women’s organisation, Mishurto Arlaad, supporting vulnerable women and children and people needing urgent medical services. Her organisation also assists displaced families in need of water and food assistance.
Ruqiya started humanitarian work aged 15 while still a student. Walking to school every day, she recalls seeing women begging on the streets and neglected children whose parents could not afford to take them to school. Some of these children lived in her neighborhood. Ruqiya started raising money among her fellow students to buy food and water for the poor and internally displaced.
Mishurto Arlaad has supported 20 poor and internally displaced women to establish their own small businesses in the past two years. They include widows raising children alone, women with disabilities, and single mothers. The funds were provided by the community and members of the organisation.
“When we first started this initiative, we were giving food and water to people who were hungry and raising money for a child in need,” Rugiya said. “Now our strategy is to empower people so they become financially independent.”
Ruqiya, a holder of a degree in public health, works with Danish Refugee Council (DRC)’s sexual and gender violence prevention unit whilst continuing her voluntary efforts.
Aadan Abdirahman, 55, established the Community Healthcare Centre for the rehabilitation of the mentally ill, the first of its kind in South West region. The centre houses 128 patients, seven of them women, providing healthcare and accommodation. The centre, with 32 employees, is supported by the business community in Baidoa.
Dr Aadan explained what led him to open the centre nine years ago:
“I saw many people who had no families or relatives to take care of them. I saw mothers delivering on the streets with the child’s father not known, and mentally ill people from rural areas living in the streets,” he said. “I rented a house in Isha village that served both as a rehabilitation centre and shelter to care for people who have been neglected and rejected by their own families and the community.”
Dr Aadan has a psychology degree from the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan and is currently pursuing his master’s. From 2006 to 2009, he was the director general of Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa city. After resigning from the hospital, he took a course in mental health integration in Hargeisa.
His centre has helped over 13,350 people. He remembers vividly one early patient at the centre:
“There was this man called Rambow who lived in the Afar Iridood area under the water tank and he used to feed on rats, live chicken and even snakes. I remember he was severely beaten and this was his only shelter, he had no home.”
The mental health centre was built on land given by the South West state administration with funding from Danwadaag. It has an accommodation unit, outpatient centre, recreation area and offices. Funding is raised from the community.
Abdifatah established two rehabilitation centres, one for orphaned boys and another for girls, where they live and are cared for and receive free education. The centre also assists poor and displaced families, providing food, water, and support for people in need of urgent medical attention in hospitals in Baidoa and Mogadishu.
Abdifatah is active on social media platforms and has a huge following.
“There are so many people, including children, women, and the elderly, who are sick and hungry and have no one to care for them,” Abdifatah said. “I stand up to help these people by raising funds for their assistance. I will never get tired of this effort.”