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Halima’s story : surviving Somalia’s conflict

What strikes you at first sight is how young she looks. However, her deep-set brown eyes tell a different story. They tell you that Halima Kassim has endured a lot in her 32 years of age, and the scars she has collected along her life journey have so far defined who she has become.

Halima got married at 15 years of age and immediately joined her husband in his maize farm in the Bay region of Somalia. She recalls with nolstagia how life was bearable then; her husband’s maize business was booming, and there was enough to eat.

However, everything changed when a militia group attacked their community and they were forced to flee from what they called home into a life of displacement. Carrying her 6-month old twins, with another four-year old trailing behind, Halima, her husband and her children embarked on a 11-day journey to the Dollow displacement camp where they are now living.

Getting a job in the IDP camp was hard for a young woman with three young children, and the realities of the camp started to hit the family hard. Food was scarce, water was rare, and service centres were over-crowded.

Halima and her children were hungry, weak, and frail. Her twins couldn’t latch on dry breasts, and she couldn’t escape the image of death in their once bright eyes.

She knew she had to fend for her family and so she started doing odd jobs – like painting peoples’ houses to supplement her husband’s meagre income.

Life in the camp presented new challenges and exposed children to malnutrition and diseases from consuming contaminated water.

Soon, Halima’s children fell sick. With no means to seek medical attention, Halima would stay home to watch them. This was at the same time she found out she was expecting another child. Halima says that the day she heard about Dollow Referral Health Centre (RHC) was a glimpse of hope that she much needed.                                 

Providing hope and health

Dollow Referral Health Centre was established by the Somali government in 1980s as a health post to offer basic health services to the Dollow population. However, with the outbreak of conflict in 1990 this post was abandoned until Trócaire revived operations in 1993 and upgraded it to a full referral centre.

When the Trócaire medical team at the facility learnt of Halima’s health situation through the community mobilisers, they arranged for her family to be transported to Dollow RHC for treatment and medical care.She was able to attend ante-natal clinics and her children were enrolled in Trocaire’s nutrition programme.

“My children are now healthy, they rarely fall sick and if they do, I quickly rush them to hospital” says Halima.

By the end of the project, Halima had delivered a healthy baby.

She says, ‘’I used to bleed a lot with my other pregnancies, but with this baby, my bleeding has been managed and that is because of the medical care I have received from the Trócaire team at Dollow referral health Centre.’’

With improved coverage and quality of services, households such as Halima’s are able to enjoy affordable health services in a timely manner.

“I am very grateful to Trócaire because without them, my children would not be healthy enough to walk and play with other children. I’m happy when I see them happy” Halima says.

You can make a difference this Christmas

The people of Somalia like Halima have suffered through decades of conflict, violence and lawlessness. They now also face a present and future of climate disaster with severe and frequent droughts. Right now, 3.1 million people require life-saving assistance.

 “Millions of children around the world have known nothing but conflict in their lives. Their lives are on hold because they have been raised in war zones. It seems that in many cases the world has forgotten these children. This Christmas we want them to know that we haven’t forgotten them,” said Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra.

This Christmas Trócaire is asking you to remember the children affected by the conflicts in these countries. Help us to help them by donating to our Christmas Appeal.

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