(ERGO) – Adar Ahmed Maow, 72, never imagined she would be living in a roofed house of her own, after living for years in a flimsy hut in a shabby internal displacement camp in Beletweyne, in Somalia’s Hiran region.
She was among the 25 families in Shareeco IDP camp to move into their own homes on 1 October, after the camp community raised funds for building through a rotating savings scheme.
“I never thought I would ever get a house of my own. I am happy that as a group we have managed to build houses for each other. None of us could have built ourselves a house on our own,” Adar said.
The 100 families in Shareeco began contributing three dollars every Friday in April. They were spurred to build roofed houses after strong winds in January destroyed many of their huts. By August they had raised enough to start building.
The Shareeco land was gifted to the IDPs by the owner, a businessman in Beledweyne, so it was a safe investment.
“We didn’t have a proper house to shelter from the winds, so we used to suffer. I didn’t even have a place to light a cooking fire out of the wind,” said Adar, a grandmother taking care of her four granddaughters, whose mother died.
Adar was displaced from Buq-aqable village in Hiran by the 2015-2016 drought that killed her 50 goats. She sells vegetables in Buundaweyn market in Beledweyne to provide for her granddaughters, buying vegetables on credit to pay back in the evening after her sales. She sets aside part of her earnings for the savings scheme and uses the rest on family bills.
She pays $25 a month for two of her granddaughters enrolled in a local primary school, and two in a madarassa.
Adar said she is happy to have the house ahead of the expected Deyr season rains.
However, for Qamar Dahir Guleid, 58, anxiety over how to repay her debt of $150 mars the satisfaction of being in her new house.
“I haven’t paid the money for the roof and the wood used to build this house. I only paid the builders,” she said. “I worry a lot about the debt. I don’t know about others, but for me I hardly sleep at night because of my debt worries.”
Qamar sells women’s clothes, allowing people to pay for their purchases in small amounts. She left her original home in Qallafe town in Ethiopia’s Somali region to help her married son raising his children in Shareeco. Her son works as a labourer. Qamar pays the school fees for two of his children but was unable to pay for the last three months as she was contributing to the house-building scheme.
The businessman who donated the land to the IDPs, Abdullahi Hassan Abdi, has been helping the community to organise the funds and buy the construction materials. He said each family brings him their contribution to the savings scheme every Friday so that he repays the loan to the stores for materials taken on credit.
“I collect the money and record each contribution. Every month we take the money we raised to the construction store to buy more materials. Last month, I took $180 collected by the IDPs,” he said.
There are 10 more houses in their final stages of construction that should be ready before the rain starts.
“They have been living here for 17 years. This is their land now, no one can evict them,” Abdullahi told Radio Ergo. “I have a house of my own and I ask God to bless that one for me. I have given them this land for good and I am assisting them with what I can.”