48-year-old Fatima Rople is an epitome of the consequences of this hard-hitting time. She was met by the Muslim Hands team in a temporary camp in Quljeed, district Boram, Somaliland. She is a widow with eight children to feed.
Distressed, she exclaimed to our team, “They are becoming more and more weak and I don’t want them all to fall ill and die the way my cattle have.”
Fatima’s children, four of whom are girls and the other four boys, range from the ages of 6 to 17. Her husband had been a charcoal buyer and they had cattle for milk and produce. Tragically, he passed away two years ago, leaving her to raise her eight children on her own in the increasingly impoverished environment. She told our aid workers,
“Since the drought has hit, our cattle have gone down from forty-eight to just two, the rest having died of famine and dehydration. I used to use the milk for the children, but the remaining two cattle are very ill, so their milk has dried up – it is just a matter of time for them too. All the wealth we had was in those animals.”
When faced with the question of what her future holds and how she will take care of her eight children, Fatima proclaimed,
“Ya Allah! Ya Rabbi, make provisions for us. I don’t want my children to die of hunger and thirst! We are relying on the aid handouts at this camp at the moment. When aid organisations come, then we get food. When they don’t come, we don’t eat and drink. I pray if only I get two cattle, I can survive.”
Regrettably, Fatima’s case isn’t unique. Eighty percent of the country’s most vulnerable groups are women and children. Our team in Somaliland have encountered countless cases like Fatima’s, with the numbers growing by the day.