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In Somalia, a hero’s work
February 6, 2013
By Sophia Jones-Mwangi
Hassan Omar Ibrahim and his daughter Mariam in Carafat, a camp in central Somalia for people displaced by drought, famine and conflict.
A farmer forced to flee his home supports his family and fellow Somalis by devoting himself to a humble but essential job—cleaning a camp for displaced persons
A farmer from southern Somalia, Hassan fled to Carafat to avoid being forced to fight by a Somali militant group.
With the help of a donkey and cart, Hassan collects garbage in the camp three days a week.
Photo: Idil Ibrahim/IRC
Hassan cannot hide his joy: He feels privileged to be doing this job. “Cleaning the area is very important and it is a religious duty for Muslims to keep the area clean because it will improve our health,” he says. “This has been an unexpected opportunity.” Although he works only three days in the camp, he keeps busy the entire week. “I start my day at six, have my breakfast and feed the donkey,” Hassan explains. “After I pray, I start work at seven. When I’m not in the camp I transport materials like cement or timber, and I also collect garbage from the communities in Galkayo town. Finally, I help people move house.”
Hassan with Abdirahman, 15, and Mariam, 2, at Carafat camp. His three other children live with their grandmother.
Photo: Sophia Jones-Mwangi/IRC
For now, Hassan and his donkey cart will have to do. “I want to bring my other children here and stay until my home is peaceful,” he says. “I like farming, but I know that my gardens will be overtaken by militants if I were to go home.”
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