Rising from the Shadows: Women’s Journey to Empowerment in Somalia’s Forgotten Camps.

On a calm Sunday morning, in the vast views of one of the local markets in Somalia, Amina,
Aisha and Zamzam (Not their real names) went about their day gazing into the horizon flared up
by the dust from the busy streets of Mogadishu with a broad hopeful smile on their faces. Times
had changed.

But things were not always this hopeful. A few months ago, they were part of a silent group,
victims of unspeakable horrors of conflict related sexual violence, who were left to fend for
themselves in the harsh realities of displacement and marginalization in the forgotten camps of
Mogadishu. Weaved within the mundane poor life of the camps, they carried the scars of a
conflict that had ripped through their lives. Just like a relentless storm.

Everyday, they trekked for long distances daily to collect firewood, exposing themselves to the
haunting echoes of past sexual violence that lingered in the air. Others washed clothes for
meager wages, enduring backbreaking labor under the scorching sun. Downhearted.
Their spirits, crushed. Their souls, victimized. Their Hopes, dwindled.

And then there was a way out.

There is always a way out in life. If one just held on, held on for a few more days and strived,
hope finds its way in the end. For Amina, Aisha, Zamzam and their friends, it showed up through
the compassion of two women-led organizations. They came with more than sympathy; they
offered a lifeline. They were taught skills that always appeared like distant dreams: dyeing and
tying clothes, tailoring, the art of drawing henna – a form of Somali beauty calligraphy. Inside
the once desolate camps, a glimmer of optimism emanated. Within the silent and dead shelters of
the camp, basic education had become a beacon of light, equipping the women with the skills to
read and write Somali, along with simple arithmetic.

Three months later, armed with the new skills, they proudly graduated from the makeshift
classrooms. And with Certificates to show for their hard work, they were not just equipped with
knowledge, but with a renewed sense of focus.

The two organizations didn’t stop there; they provided a helping hand to the women to kickstart
their own businesses.

In December, when the organizations checked on them, what they found was beyond their
expectations. Every one had transformed their lives.

For Amina, Aisha and Zamzam The dyeing and tying skills birthed vibrant fabrics, the sewing
needles stitched stories of resilience, and henna adorned hands of many of their clients told tales
of newfound pride.

The once sad and harsh lives had turned into a narrative of triumph. They now not only educated
their own children but also extended a helping hand to others in their community. Their
businesses flourished, and the echoes of laughter replaced the haunting whispers of the past. The
scars remained, perhaps deep in their souls but they were now marks of strength and survival. In
the face of adversity, these women, once forgotten, inked their own success story. From the
shadows of despair, they emerged as beacons of hope, illuminating the path for many others,
piled up in the spread camps across the city. .

These women became more than names on a list in a camp. They became a testament. Despite
the scars fighting for justice within them, they became hope. For themselves. For their children.
For their community.