Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) joined the world in marking the International Women’s Day on March 8. The event was held at the Peaceful Coexistence Center in Hargeisa, Somaliland. 154 people participated in the event, ranging from Somali returnees, refugees from Yemen, Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as members of the host community. Government officials from National Displacement & Refugee Agency (ND&RA), the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, UNHCR staff and partners and refugee committees also attended the event.
The theme this year is ‘Time is now: Rural and Urban Activists transforming Women’s Lives’. During the event, Fartum Abdalla, a Somali returnee spoke about the role AAH-I has played in transforming her life. Looking at her bright smile and resolve in her walk, it is hard to imagine what she has had to go through. “I was completely broken and in despair when I fled Yemen in 2015 with my seven children. We arrived at the Berbera Reception center with hardly any clothes on our backs, but counted ourselves lucky to be alive. For two years we lived in hard conditions without support until I heard about the business grants offered by AAH-I. I attended an entrepreneurship training run by AAH-I in June 2017, after which I applied for and qualified to get a group business grant worth $5,000 with 3 other women. We opened a cosmetic shop and are now making a profit of about $300 per month, which is enough to meet our daily needs.”
“The grants we are providing through AAH-I are a form of cash-based interventions to provide positive coping mechanisms for those in need. UNHCR is committed to always being there as long as conflicts are affecting livelihoods,” said UNHCR Associate Eligibility Officer Vanessa Bordin during the event.
“We would not be able to support women like Fartum without the support of our funding and implementing partners. We are grateful for the support of UNHCR and the government of Somaliland who enable us to reach the vulnerable members of our community,” said AAH-I Hargeisa Project Manager Dr. Tharcisse Mulindwa. ND&RA Director Abdi Ali echoed his comments as he thanked AAH-I and UNHCR, and encouraged the women to empower themselves and continue their hard work and commitment.
“We have been always at the forefront in ensuring that women acquire appropriate skills which are essential to sustainably improve their livelihoods. At least 402 women were equipped with various vocational skills, languages and basic computer courses in 2017. This was done under the Self Reliance and Improved Livelihoods project that supports refugees, asylum seekers, returnees and members of the host community,” said AAH-I Project Field Assistant Sowsan Abdilahi in her remarks.
Ethiopian Refugee Community Leader Imana Hailu, Yemen Refugee Community Leader Mohamed Salim Hussein and Refugee Returnee Community Leader Luul Ahmed Omer spoke at the event and highlighted how the lives of many of the people they represent have been positively changed.