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05 June 2015

A Day in the Life of Rahma Muhammad

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30 year old Rahma Muhammad lives in an internally displaced people (IDP) camp in Mogadishu, eastern Somalia. She arrived at the camp after fleeing war and drought in the south, and like many of the women here, Rahma is without her husband. Rahma has three chickens and sells sweets for a living, but with six children to provide for, every day is a struggle.
Life in the camp is hard. Conditions are cramped, rubbish is strewn everywhere and there are no healthcare facilities. Although this camp has a well and latrines, in other IDP camps children play next to open sewage and access to safe water is almost non-existent.
Inside, Rahma’s make-shift tent is pitch-black. Sticks hold together the flimsy cloths and plastic canvases that serve as walls and a roof, and the atmosphere is hot and airless. Rahma and her children share two tents between them and, with only two beds in each, overcrowding is a problem.
When our Muslim Hands team visit the camp to distribute food aid donated by a Qatari donor paying Kafarra (compensation) through our Special Programmes scheme, Rahma is one of those identified as most in need. She is given a numbered card, which will allow her to claim two 25 kg bags of maize, a staple grain in Somalia.
Along with three hundred other women, Rahma queues to collect her bags. To ensure that distribution is fair, the beneficiaries enter in groups of ten to twenty and each one claims their bags by sitting on them. The maize is bought from local farmers and local men help the women, many of whom are widows, to carry the heavy loads back to their tents.
In a camp where hunger is a daily reality, something as simple as the provision of grain is a lifeline. At just £15 a bag, the maize will last Rahma and her family for two months and although the process of grinding it down to a fine powder, ready for cooking, is a strenuous task, at least Rahma does not have to worry whether her children will go hungry for the near future.
This will allow her to save some money and will give the family the sustenance they need to go about their daily lives. Rahma's children, who attend the local madrassa, will be more able to focus in class and Rahma herself will have more strength to face her daily chores.
It is only when you talk to people like Rahma, that you realise the impact that just one donor can have on the lives of hundreds of people. This is by no means the solution to all of Rahma’s problems, but she is grateful. Along with the other women, she makes dua for the generous donor and then sets about her tasks.
Like everyone else in the camp, Rahma does not have time to dwell on her situation. She just gets on with it. One day, when the conflict in Somalia is over, she hopes to return. Until then, anything any one of us can give to ease her burden is money well spent.

By Tijen Horoz, Senior Communications Editor


Muslim Hands UK

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