Photo credit: Bisharo–mareeg.com-Luul Jeylani Yunis and her family came to Galkayo from Mogadishu in 1999 and settled in Bula Bacley Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlement where they rented 3 rooms. Luul quickly realized that the family couldn’t pay for both rent and upkeep, and that she needed to support her parents.
Luul is 21 years old and the second of 8 children (6 girls and 2 boys). Her mother is not well and stays home. Her father is an electricity handyman. All of her girl siblings went to school until class 5 and never continued due to lack of fees but her father decided to work extra hard to support the 2 boys so they could continue with their studies.
“All my sisters and I were forced to stay home due to lack of fees and support mum with house chores,’’ She told me. “One day I met 3 girls who were actually my neighbors, coming from the market with some cash and cartons full of cold mineral water. They explained that they sell water every day in the market, which gives them some money to support their family.”
The next morning Luul followed her peers secretly without her mum noticing. She was introduced to one of the shopkeepers who sell water, who gave her water on credit for the first time. After few months she was able to buy her own carton of water by herself. She walked 3-5 kilometers every day to sell water in town, especially during the hot seasons. Her parents were annoyed at first, but as soon as they realized money was flowing in, they accepted the idea.
One day a local NGO by the name GECPD launched a new project on vocational skills and were looking for vulnerable women who could benefit from it. The news was all over the IDP camp and parents were taking their daughters’ names to IDP leaders for selection. Unfortunately, Luul was not among the 50+ women selected. Luul knew she had to act fast before she lost the chance.
“I told myself, this is the right moment I have been waiting for to change myself and family situation to better. I asked my friends who were selected where the vocation institution was and I walked there every morning for 5 days on my way to sell water and asked if I could get in,” she said.
“The sixth day, I met a woman at the gate who ended up being my instructor and explained my situation. She was happy to introduce me to an administrator who later admitted me to the programme. That day I knew I was meant for greater things and my hard work would pay well someday,” she said emotionally.
After she joined the vocational school, she requested to do skills training exams which would enable her get paid easily. She passed her exams and was transferred to the tailoring skills programme.
“I thought tailoring was easy but it was never easy. I left the programme, which was yearly based, 3 times. That means every year for 3 years I dropped out. When things started becoming harder, I went back to the water selling business,” she said.
Her friends who did tailoring started wearing nice clothes. After inquiring, she was informed the girls are paid after making clothes, especially the sanitary towels. This motivated Luul to go back and study tailoring. She was accepted back in July 2016 and currently she is at the vocational center teaching students, while also coming up with new designs for women clothes which includes dressed, scarfs, Hijabs and abayas sold at joint boutique shop that she opened with 10 other girls.
“I now get to earn enough from the clothes I make to pay rent on my family’s 3 rooms and our food bill. I push myself harder to learn extra techniques and earn more money. Trust me, if it was not the money I would not have been here. Right now, I see the importance of education and it always crosses my mind that I need higher education. I need to get out of the poverty we are used to and live like normal people or even better. I love my sisters and I want to see them get better education and avoid walking all day in the sun as I did,” she added.
She says proudly that in the shop she and her partners opened “we sell and make new designs of clothes. Sometimes we get nothing and some other times we sell and make enough to pay our bills. This is okay because at least I am not on the streets.”
Luul wants to go to school and study business and later in future, open up her own boutique with her own designed clothes. She wants to earn money enough to support her young siblings get better education.
Hawa, Luul’s supervisor added “Luul is a bright lady and she works extra hard than most of the students at the centre. She has gone through a lot in her younger life but she smiles throughout and no one notices her pain and struggle.”
Lastly, she says “Every girl and boy should try and get an education and look for opportunities no matter how hard. Never give up.”
“That day I knew I was meant for greater things and my hard work will pay well someday”
By: Bisharo Ali Hussein