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Marium Dahir with two of her three children. World Concern Photo

Marium Dahir with two of her three children. World Concern Photo

Marium Dahir’s story: A heartbreaking decision

10/05/2011

Contributions to MCC’s East Africa drought response are helping people like Marium Dahir.

Dahir, two daughters, ages 8 and 9, and a 15 year old son, were part of a group that arrived recently in Dhobley, a town in Somalia near the border with Kenya. It is a transit point for thousands of Somalis on their way to the refugee camps in Kenya.

Dahir, a mother of eight children, had told workers distributing food vouchers that she had not been able to leave the dire situation in her hometown near Kismaayo, in southern Somalia, because she didn’t have money for transportation costs to a refugee camp.

Friends from her community offered to pay for her trip to the Kenya camps but there was only enough money for four people. Desperate for help, she was forced to make the heartbreaking decision to leave behind five children with the hope of finding help and a way for the family to be reunited.

Less than 24 hours after arriving in Dhobley, the family received vouchers for emergency food and prepared a meal using the simple rations of rice, beans, oil, salt and sugar.

“The meal I had last night was the best I have had in a year,” said Dahir.  “I was satisfied. Even my first night here, life is so much better than it has been before.”

Despite daily security issues, the voucher system makes it possible for food and other emergency assistance to reach people in need. Under this system, people receiving the vouchers can redeem them through buying the items listed on the vouchers at local shops. Prices are set in advance to lessen competition among the merchants.

Contributions from MCC and other organizations enable local organizations to reimburse the merchants. This system supports the local economy, builds relationships with community leaders, and ensures food ends up in the hands of those who need it most.

The group Dahir was travelling with did not plan to stay in Dhobley. Dahir said she does not know what the future will hold for her and her children. “It is only God now that I can rely on,” she said.

With files from World Concern