Hajira Hassan’s story

(Hajira speaks to the Somali Women Development Centre, IOM‘s implementing partner in Mogadishu)

Hajira’s son is a tailor and can work with the solar lantern also during nighttime © IOM 2014 (Photo: SWDC)

Insecurity in IDP settlements, particularly at night, puts women and girls at constant risk of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). In July 2014, IOM and its implementing partners distributed 3,300 solar lanterns to survivors of SGBV, IDPs and refugees who are at-risk of SGBV at IDP settlements in Bossaso, Garowe, Burao, Borama, Galkayo and Mogadishu and through the Migration Response Centre (MRC) in Hargeisa. A qualitative assessment afterwards revealed that the lanterns did not only increase beneficiaries’ sense of security at night, but also improved the quality of their lives and even provided new livelihood opportunities. Beneficiaries highlighted the solar lanterns’ benefit of giving their children a chance to study after dark, reducing their labour to collect firewood, helping them save money from not needing to purchase batteries, using the lanterns to charge other people’s phones for a small fee, and enabling pregnant women to give birth more safely at night.

Meet Hajira Yarow Hassan, one of the beneficiaries, who lives together with her six children in Alnujuum IDP settlement in Mogadishu after having escaped violence and insecurity in Qoryoley (Lower Shabelle).

Life in IDP camps is always difficult. We had a life back there in our home. We had a piece of land in Qoryoley, but because of the fight we lost everything. We lost our property and had no other option than to move to the capital. I was not even sure how life would be in Mogadishu but I just followed my neighbours and friends who were also moving to the city.

When I came to Mogadishu, life was not the way I expected. There was no water, no food and on top of that we had to fear possible sexual violence. This camp is full of rapists. I heard stories of girls being raped and sexually assaulted. It is dark here. There are no lights.

Fortunately, I was added to the list of those who were provided with a solar lantern. Once we received the solar lantern, we felt a sense of peace, a sense of security. We use the solar lanterns at home and it provides us with light during the night. My son is a tailor and can now work until late at night which has increased our daily income. Now we get USD2.5 per day from the tailor as well as other small incomes from mobile charging services. The kids read their books at night, sometimes they play and feel happy.

This light is really changing our life. We are realizing that we have not limits now. With this solar lantern, we can do much better to sustain our life.