07. December 2011
Somali women walk past a destroyed building, a result of a four-year insurgency that has killed tens of thousands of people, REUTERS/Feisal Oma (2011)
By Karoline Krause
The boys who are recruited into the radical Islamic al-Shabaab militia in Somalia are between the ages of eight and nineteen years old. „They are seized on the street, or forcibly taken from their homes. Then they are brainwashed. The mothers are distraught; their sons simply disappear.“
Hanan Ibrahim knows how the militia works in her homeland, and what daily life is actually like in Somalia. The country, which Hanan left thirteen years ago while it was still „a good country“ with a „functioning government“, is now marked by drought, militias, troops from other African nations, and, above all, extreme hunger.
Revolution at the kitchen table
Hanan moved to Great Britain, where she built a new, secure life for herself. She gathered other women who had fled from their homelands around her kitchen table in London. She helped them to learn English and to master daily life in a foreign culture. She soon also invited British women and members of the Asian community to join them. „Regardless of where the women are from, which language they speak, or their religion, they all have something in common: they are mothers.“
Television images of the catastrophe in her homeland led Hanan to return to Somalia in February, where she continued her activism. She has brought Women without Borders‘ SAVE (Sisters Against Violent Extremism) initiative to Somalia, to help women to combat extremism in their own families and to come to terms with the loss of their children or husbands. (Hanan has covered herself in the picture because she fears being recognized.)
Hanan told the KURIER that as a Somali, her organization can work in areas to which international organizations cannot gain access. „The fact that I risk my life for this work is my guarantee that every dollar that is donated really reaches its intended recipient.“
Samira Abdule’s husband, Minister of Security –designate at the time, was killed by al-Shabaab two and a half years ago. Samira has seven children; she fled to Sweden because she was also a target of the militia. She has made it her goal to speak out against radical ideologies there.
Samira Abdule and Hanan Ibrahim are currently in Vienna on invitation of Women without Borders.
Bank account for donations: Women without Borders; account number: 52085371101; BLZ: 1200