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Somalia Woman Emerges From Hunger Crisis To Start Her Own Business

In Puntland, hundreds of people have benefitted from WFP’s Food for Training programme that offers food in exchange for participation in skills training. The programme helps people improve their economic status and self-reliance.

Oby Omar Gomey Ahmed

PUNTLAND -- Deka Mohamed, 20, is among 250 students who have successfully completed a six-month tailoring course supported by WFP. As a result, Deka’s future is looking brighter than it has for some time.

“I’m the eldest daughter in a family of six children and we used to be a happy pastoralist family who kept herds of goats and camels. Our animals, which were our only source of livelihood, were claimed by the drought that has struck the region in the past couple of years.”

Deka’s father was elderly and unwell and Deka’s mother became desperate as she had no money-earning skills that would enable her to support the family. "Our hearts were broken and dreams shattered. We had no other alternative but to move to Garowe town and to seek help from family, friends, tribesmen and good Samaritans,” she says.

Tailoring course

When they arrived in Garowe, relatives took them in and gave them a little money. They were soon accepted into the local community and Deka began to make friends. It was through these friends that Deka heard about a WFP tailoring course that was open to displaced people.

Once enrolled, Deka was given a family ration of food by WFP until she had finished the course. This, she explains, took the stress out of her life because she knew that her parents and siblings would have enough to eat.

Six months later, things had changed. “After completing my course, I was employed by a designer at Fadhi-xun market in Garowe. Then I could see a ray of hope. I could imagine that success was just within my reach and it was only a matter of time before I became a different person.”

Every time Deka received her salary, she used most of it to help the family but she also put some aside. She was determined to save for  her own sewing machine and go into business. And, by  borrowing a little extra from her friends, she managed to do so.

Business sense

Deka said she kept thinking about the famous saying: "Where there is a will, there is a way”. And her business sense really started to kick in.

“When I got my own machine, I decided to train my beloved mother so that we could do business together and increase our income. At first business was slow as people didn’t know about us, but our reputation for excellent work spread and I started getting huge numbers of customers.”

Deka was then in a position to help some of her siblings. She paid for three of them to attend Waberi Primary School in Garowe.

“God willing, if all goes well, I will keep on supporting them until they achieve the highest level of academic excellence." The school is supported by WFP through the school meals programme.

She now hopes to buy more sewing machines and train more women. She says she would like to improve her tailoring and design skills, and become a role model for other young women with similar ambitions.