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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs