20 Years Old Working Mother and A Part Time Student.
Hamda Saed, 20 years old, a mother of two, a working woman, and part time student at Tilmaame Youth Center. Hamda is one of the many young people that benefits from the literacy programs at Tilmaame iHub located in Garowe and managed by Y-PEER Puntland.
Growing up in a small village, like many girls in her area, Hamda didn’t have the chance to attend school, her family, a pastoralist, were nomads who herded livestock for living.
“As a kid, I used to take our family's goats and sheep out into fields so that they can eat the grass," Hamda said, talking about her childhood, “all the girls my age will meet somewhere and we will talk and play games, like aay-aay -a game where you play with stones- or do some folklore dances, that was the only form of entertainment we had back there and we didn’t have a chance for education.”
At the age of fifteen, Hamda married sixteen years old named Yousuf, the father of her two children and her neighbor since childhood. Hamda talked highly about her parents, and although nomads, how caring they were, which she said was probably what made her believe marrying young was the best solution.
“My marriage wasn’t forced or anything in that sense, but I did regret marrying that young,” Hamda stated, “I had my daughter at sixteen, and it was really tough, emotionally and physically. Sometimes I wonder if all things in life could’ve been different if I didn’t marry, if I had a chance to be schooled, if I wasn’t born in a village with a 100 population, what kind of life I’d be leading today?”
During her first child’s birth, Hamda struggled with a number of health issues and birth complications, and to avoid that, her family agreed to take her to Garowe for a medical visit where she had her second baby at the hospital.
“Three years ago, I came here with the intention of just giving birth and then going back,” said Hamda, “however, God had other plans. I had my son here and then I had to stay for few months to do some more checkups and I have been here since then. Honestly, the last three years had been good.”
As she told us, Hamda heard about the center around early 2021, during an early marriage campaign that was targeting a lot of community centers.
“I remember there was a cultural dance that day it was exciting to watch that,” Hamda expressed, “there was also a play, about a girl in her early teens getting married, having babies at such a young age, struggling, and that kind of touched a nerve, it sounded like my own story and I felt somehow exposed. I waited anxiously how the play will end, how that girl’s life will eventually turn to be and at some point, the girl started learning some skills, working, and her life changed for better and that motivated me. At the end of the campaign, one of the organizers told us about the center, the service it provides and I was there the next day.”
Beside starting the literacy and numeracy programs, Hamda participated in different trainings and campaigns Y-PEER conducted and benefitted from them, including skills training where she, along with her classmates learned the process of making energy efficient stoves.
Although the stoves are great skill to have, Hamda expressed that it doesn’t sell as much as they did for the first few months. Therefore, and to have a reliable income, Hamda has been selling groceries in her neighborhood for the last five months.
“Currently I am the breadwinner for my family, I have five younger siblings which two of them are going to school -my family moved to a village with a primary and middle school- although it’s a lot of responsibility, I feel better in being able to provide for my family.”
Like many other families with livestock, the draught has impacted Hamda’s family. When asked how the draught has impacted her and her family, Hamda replied,
“it’s been tough, we were already a fragile community with water shortage and food insecurity, for the past months, we’ve lost a lot of livestock, which obviously effected the life of people in terms of livelihood and food supply.”
The draught has also affected Hamda as a grocery seller, the large-scale crop failures caused by the draught had impacted her job.
“The prices of everything have increased and when you are a local neighborhood stall owner, what you make in a day is already so little, people normally prefer going to the market and the small number of regulars I have usually take things as a loan and paid it later. Truthfully, it felt like I was stuck for few months but now there has been rain in my hometown -although it wasn’t a lot- and I am planning to open another stall in different neighborhood.”
Hamda graduated from the literacy (English and Somali) and numeracy programs January this year and is now taking 6 months digital literacy program with only two months remaining while also working, raising two kids and supporting her family financially.
“There’s always a ray of hope, three years ago I lived in a village with little knowledge and experience in life, and a year and half ago I didn’t know how to read or write and now I’m no longer illiterate, I have a small business, and I am financially independent.”