News / USA

Mother, Son Team Up to Fight Somalia Poverty

A small, woman-run store at the Hidaya Camp, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, sells detergent, coffee, charcoal and candy. (Photo courtesy of Filsan Darman)
A small, woman-run store at the Hidaya Camp, on the outskirts of Mogadishu, sells detergent, coffee, charcoal and candy. (Photo courtesy of Filsan Darman)
Faiza Elmasry
Although he has never lived there, Sahnun Mohamud has always wanted to help Somalia, the birthplace of his parents and home to many of his relatives.

Now a college student, he believes educating as many Somali children as possible is essential to making a difference and building a better future for the war-torn east-African coastal nation.  

Mohamud, 21, is following in his mother’s footsteps.

“She’s been helping Somalia since before I was born,” he said.

In 1987, his mother, Filsan Darman co-founded a non-profit organization called Aadamiga, which means humanitarian in Somali.

“At that time we were helping women," Darman said. "There was a civil war in Somalia. We were helping those people who escaped from the north of Somalia to Mogadishu because the civil war started  there. So we were helping them with food and clothes also.”

Students for Somalia are helping women at the Hidaya Camp, located at the outskirts of Mogadishu, by giving them modest business loans, as long as they agree to keep their children in school. (Photo courtesy of Filsan Darman)Students for Somalia are helping women at the Hidaya Camp, located at the outskirts of Mogadishu, by giving them modest business loans, as long as they agree to keep their children in school. (Photo courtesy of Filsan Darman)
Inspired and encouraged by his mother, Mohamud got involved early on in various charitable projects. His latest effort is founding Students for Somalia, a group of college students committed to raising money to fund projects in the country.

“I noticed that a lot of the Somali movements and organizations that were currently existing were really exclusive, only Somalis," he said. "So my group and my whole motto has been let’s let every ethnicity and race help Somalia. I think it's a huge resource to have non-somali people helping Somalia.”

Joint project

This year, Students for Somalia and Aadamiga are collaborating on a joint project to fight poverty and promote education at the same time.

“We give some money to a female Somali entrepreneur who has a kid attending a school in Somalia," said Mohamud. "That female entrepreneur eventually has to pay back the money, but rather than to pay back to us, she pays it back to the school for improvements on the school. So it’s really about education and keeping kids in school.”

Mohamud says Students for Somalia is focusing on education because it is a long-term solution to most of the country’s current problems. He believes providing a monetary incentive for mothers to expand their business while keeping their children in school - a condition of the loan - will prevent this generation from dropping out to work or be recruited by warlords as soldiers.

Darman is now in Mogadishu to help get the program started.

Micro loans

The entrepreneur mothers who will receive the micro loans have been living for years in IDP camps for internally displaced people in the capital.

“If you come to the IDP camps, you’ll see that some of the ladies, even though they live in shacks, right in front of their shacks, they have like a little store, selling stuff like basically daily necessities like food," Darman said. "The camp that we’re targeting right now has 920 families. Of course we can’t help all of them. We’re just trying to help at the most probably 20 women at the beginning. We’re trying to empower them, give them a little bit of something to expand their business.”

Although it is a small amount of money, ranging from $100 and $500, Darman insists the loans will make a difference.

“You have to always think positive," she said. "Even though it's 10, 20, 30 [women], at least we’re helping people and that will alleviate a lot of poverty.”

Educational opportunities

The project has another long-term goal: improving educational opportunities for Somali children.

“The most important job we're doing right here is education, because we believe that without education no nation can succeed," she said. "So we’re trying to establish schools that are free.”

“We raised almost $7,000 to start a school in Somalia so the kids will go through their K to 12 [kindergarten through grade 12] education and hopefully go to college,” Mohamud said.

Mother and son hope their program will help displaced families leave the camps and move to safer areas, which is the first step toward establishing stable, productive lives.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid