Somalia return and displacement series: Aishawara’s Story

Aishawara’s life changed when the Yemen conflict began. She worked as a humanitarian aid assistant at the Al-Kharas refugee camp, where majority of the inhabitants were Somalis. When the war separated Aishawara from her family, she decided to take her changes with a Somali family that she had befriended in the camp, who were returning to Somalia.

After weeks on the road from Mukalla in the Yemeni region of Hadhramaut, travelling with traffickers through Boosaaso and Gaalka’yo in Puntland, the Somali family and Aishawara reached their final destination, the town of Abuduwaq in Galgaduud. This was the family’s hometown, and they had an established network of kinship there. But the presence of Aishawara was soon attracting questions and suspicion in a predominantly conservative Muslim environment.

Aishawara was given little choice but to marry a local man that the family had suggested. She didn’t want this marriage but she knew no one else in Abuduwaq and had nowhere else to go. She also didn’t want to upset the family that she had grown to depend on, who had already done her a favour by taking her away from the war in Yemen.

Aishawara remained married for a year, during which she miscarried a baby and lived in poor conditions as her husband didn’t make much of an income. She worried about her own family, whether they survived the war, and where they could possibly be. She endured regular sleepless nights and lived in an almost constant state of anxiety. She was deeply unhappy.

Her lucky break came when the family she came with decided to look for better economic opportunities in Mogadishu. She convinced them to allow her to go with them. When she arrived in Mogadishu, she connected with the sizeable and growing community of Yemenis already settled in the city. They provided her the protection and assistance she needed to feel confident to ask for a divorce from the husband in Abuduwaq. This became a long process, partly prolonged by her lack of cultural awareness in the Somali context.

She was finally able to get her divorce and settle in Mogadishu. During this period she also connected with her family in Yemen. But they were misinformed that she was working as a prostitute in Somalia and didn’t want anything to do with her. For Aishawara, this meant there was scant hope of returning to Yemen and reuniting with her family. She was considered to have brought shame to the family and was therefore disowned. She’s decided to make the most of living in Mogadishu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *