Journey to the camp
Before the drought the Mahat family had a relatively good life in their village, Dor Murah, in Bakool region, southern Somalia.
“We owned a small plot of land and had a home with two rooms and enough to live on. As well as a herd of 200 goats, we had a donkey which meant we had transport to get to the local market to sell milk and goat meat to get money so we could buy food and household supplies. Our goats also supplied milk for the family. We were hopeful for our futures. We were content,” said Mahat.
Childhood sweethearts, Ambiyo and Mahat were born and reared in Dor Murah. Ambiyo was one of four children, but she is the only one of her original family alive. Two of her siblings died as adults from measles, and a third died from hunger after the drought set in two years ago. Mahat was orphaned when he was very young and was reared by his grandparents.
Both were from pastoralist families and met herding goats when Ambiyo was 15 and Mahat was 18. The couple fell in love, and when Ambiyo was 16, Mahat asked her father for her hand in marriage. They married and started their family and were happy.
“Before the drought came, we had 200 goats and one donkey. Our family was growing. We were also farmers with a plot of land and we grew sorghum (a millet). Our home was built from mud walls and had two rooms – enough room for us all. We were happy and settled and could afford items and the upkeep of our children,” Ambiyo said.
“But everything changed when the drought came three years ago. The drought took our livelihoods. Previously we experienced drought, but it always passed and didn’t last and did not force us out of our homes.”
“Our goats started to die. One by one by one by one. It was heart-breaking. When we were down to our last goat, we made the decision to leave our village. If we didn’t, we would all have died. We heard that there was help if we got to a camp in Luuq.”
She said when the last goat died, it had very little meat on its bones as it was so thin, but the family took what meat it could from the carcass and fried it to have some food for the children for the journey to Luuq. The family set off on foot and it took three days and two nights to get to Boyle IDP. They walked all the way, on their own, with no other families from their village.
“There were many other families making the same journey. People were desperate. We met people who lost family members on the journey. They had to bury them on the roadside. We could see dead animal carcass along the way,” Mahat said.
Ambiyo said it was a very tough journey: “I was five months pregnant and carried one of our little twin girls on my front and the other on my back. My husband helped the other younger children and the older ones walked. It was very difficult walking in the heat of the day. It was cold at night. We carried a water container and got water from bore holes along the way. Apart from the goat meat there was no food. Myself and my husband did not eat at all we survived on water. When we arrived at the IDP camp we very weak and tired.”
Building a new home