Hawa, 17, Galkayo
As told to Denise Shepherd-Johnson
GALKAYO, Somalia, 1 March 2011 – “My name is Hawa Hersi Mahamoud and I live in Halabooqad [IDP] settlement in Galkayo [Northeast Somalia]. I am 17 and I was born in a village called Harfo [90 km from Galkayo].
I was the first born and I lived with my father and my grandmama. My parents were divorced when I was three and my Mum went to live with relatives in Ethiopia. My father had a car and used to collect stones to build houses. I remember attending a madrassa, playing a lot with my cousins and friends and looking after our animals: camels and goats.
My best memory was meeting my mother again when I was 10. I was so happy. It was like I was in heaven. I was shocked and excited because I thought I would never see her again. Then she brought me to Galkayo and I haven’t seen my father since coming here.
I live in a small hut with my Mum and stepfather. In the morning I clean myself and make porridge for my little brothers, Mohamed [aged 9] and Hussein [aged 7] .Then I look after them and play with them. Sometimes I fetch water from the kiosk. When we have food I cook rice, beans or porridge for dinner. When we have no money we can’t buy food.
I just started going to [Halabooqad Primary] school in Standard One. I go every afternoon except on Friday. I like school and I always wanted to go there. I didn’t go before because no-one took me. My favourite subjects are reading and writing in Somali and mathematics. My favourite things are my two exercise books and my pen so I can practice my studies.
My dream would be to be a medical doctor or to work with an NGO but I was not taken to school when I was young and it won’t happen now. I feel bad about that. I will have to struggle and look for work but hope I will achieve a good life.
I miss my father and my grandmama. I am happy to live with my Mum but I am sad that I have to live here. Hyenas come here even in the daytime but what makes me really afraid is that one night someone will come in and rape me. I can deal with a hyena but not a bad man. [After rape] you’ll be isolated and not part of society. Life in Galkayo is not good. I try to ignore it because I can’t do anything about it”.