“Black tea was all I could give to my children”

By Edward Ahonobadha and Abdi Nour

Hodu, in her 20s, lives in Oodweyne village in Burao in Somaliland. She is a mother of three children. Her oldest child is four years old, her youngest one year. She is also expecting her fourth child. Her family lost all their 20 goats and sheep during the drought. “We struggled putting food on the table. There were many days when we had nothing to eat and we went to bed hungry,” Hodu says.

Somaliland has faced many crises in recent times including drought and an outbreak of cholera. Thousands of subsistence farmers have lost all their livestock, and with it, their livelihoods and their food source. And of course they too are without water due to the drought. In total, more than 18 million people across the region are facing food insecurity.

Hodu and her family depended on the animals to have food to eat. They went for days without food. On many days, she gave her children black tea. That was their only meal in the evening. Sometimes their neighbors shared maize with them, so they could at least eat a little bit of food.  “We had to find an alternative source of income, so my husband started burning and selling charcoal at the market. Most people do not have the money to buy it, though, so he operates mainly by loaning out the charcoal.”

Hodu / Photo: CARE, Edward Ahonobadha

Hodu and her family are now receiving assistance from CARE. “We are now a bit optimistic on the future but things are still tough. My children took a bit of time to acclimatize with the new foods and diet but they are now fine. They were used to milk and meat products but they are now ok. In the recent past, all that we thought about all day was where the next meal would come from. Clothes, school, health and housing were secondary needs to us. Thanks to CARE, the days of going to bed hungry are over,” Hodu says. “We are happy that we do not sleep hungry anymore.”

CARE is delivering emergency aid in the Burao region in the form of water deliveries and nutrition support, healthcare advice, cash-for-work programs for vulnerable women, improving shallow wells and boreholes, and provision of psychosocial support to adult and child survivors of gender-based violence. 

For more on our work in Somalia, click here.