Women’s workshop in Somalia lifeline to community

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Women living in Adalet Refugee Camp, located in rural parts of the Somalian capital Mogadishu, are fighting against unemployment by weaving straws and making pottery to contribute to their family budget.

Somalian women are beginning to take up traditional handcrafts that they inherited from their ancestors because of the cut down in humanitarian aid sent to refugee camps as well as tough living conditions, depreciation of local currency, inflation and the country’s economic difficulties.

The camp mostly hosts refugees originating from Lower Shebelle, where al-Shabaab militants and state forces regularly clash and drought rules over the terrain. Having escaped the conflict, however, people living in the refugee camp face economic problems as soon as they arrive.

Nearly 100 women, sick and tired of waiting for humanitarian aid to arrive, have began to work early in the morning at a humble workshop they erected with donations, singing their songs. The workshop, where Somalian women make pots, hand fans, baskets and brooms in every model, quality and price range, offers employment to women who have to provide for their families.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent, Fatima Muhammed, one of the workers at the workshop, said she is racing against time to make hand woven baskets despite her advanced age. “We are coming here to earn our bread and to take care of our children,” Muhammad said, as she was taking her seat and choosing colors for her next basket.

Zehra Ali, the manager of workshop said, “Women are the backbone of Somalian society. Usually, women struggle with life all by themselves and provide for their families.” Ali who spearheaded the foundation of the workshop in the refugee camp said the workshop is a good option for women to earn money and provide security for themselves. “Thank God, we have been successful in a many things,” she added.

One of the refugee women, Rukiye Nur, said she has learnt a craft thanks to the workshop and that she tries to make as many baskets and hand fans as possible.

Nur said they are also trying to convince their customers that local products are of a better quality than the imported ones. “Thank God I make money enough to provide for our children. Back in the day, we went round cleaning houses, worked very hard and returned home empty handed,” she added.

Betule Abdullah, 60, began working at the workshop because of financial difficulties. She said, “I am working to provide for my grandchildren. We want the authorities to improve our profession and conditions as we produce many things with simple and old tools.”

The political instability and security failures in Somalia as well as the downfall in its economy and lack of industry have put 75 percent of the population out of jobs.

AA


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