When we heard about events to mark the International Women’s Day organized by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and local partners in Hargeisa, Somaliland, we were curious to know about the significance of the red roses that were given to participants.
“I assisted with the planning of the International Women’s Day and wanted all women, even refugees, returnees and asylum seekers, to stand tall and be proud to be women,” was how Sherehan Abduallah kicked off the conversation when we met her at the Peaceful Coexistence Centre in Hargeisa, Somaliland. “To me the red roses signify the pride of being a woman despite the challenges that come with population displacement.”
Guests holding their red roses at the Internal Women’s Day event in March 2017.
“Collaborating with AAH-I and UNHCR, it took me about three months to work on a programme and identify speakers and entertainment groups, among other aspects of the event. The event celebrated the diverse culture in Hargeisa through speeches, exhibitions and dances. At least five nationalities were represented – Somali, Yemeni, Ethiopian, Iranian and Ugandan.
Sherehan is the focal point for women and children in the UNHCR-recognized Yemeni Committee set up in October 2016 to support Yemeni refugees in Hargeisa. The Committee also has focal points for security, education, health, livelihoods and the youth. A Chairman, Vice-President and Secretary complete the team.
Sherehan also works closely with the AAH-I team at the Peaceful Coexistence Centre (PCC) in Hargeisa. The PCC is under AAH-I’s project, ‘Integrated approach to increase social self-reliance, livelihood opportunities and peaceful coexistence among Persons of Concern (PoC) and refugee hosting communities in Hargeisa, Somaliland.’ The objective of the project is to increase social self-reliance and socio-economic well being of refugees and asylum seekers and refugee-hosting communities/ The project supports diversification of livelihood opportunities and promotes local population receptivity towards refugees.
In her role, she supports mostly refugee women from Yemeni on issues regarding domestic violence, business development and social life. Cases on domestic violence are handled in collaboration with a local NGO, Comprehensive Community-based Rehabilitation Services (CCBRS).
Sherehan, her parents and four siblings ran away from the conflict in Yemen in 2015. She, like the majority of Yemeni refugees in Somaliland, arrived through the port of Berbera and made her way to the capital, Hargeisa. When not playing her role as the focal point for women and children, she enjoys attending weekly social meetings with other refugee women. “We’re a family. We enjoy each other’s successes and support each other in difficult moments. In future, I want to see these women receiving training in nutrition and leadership.”