mother in somalia holding her child

The Last Meal – Maryan’s Story

Small, domed tents and makeshift tarps appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, in the expanse of the Somaliland desert.

For a few hundred families, including Maryan and her children, this was home.

The camp where Maryan lives is becoming a permanent home for families like hers.  As the drought robs more and more families of their livestock – a primary source of income for many – they have no way to support themselves.

Maryan found her way to the camp, five children in tow, when she lost her entire herd of goats to the drought.

Colorful pieces of cloth cover her home on the outskirts of camp. Without her goats, the only way for her to make some sort of living is by harvesting firewood. She and other mothers walk for miles to gather wood, going further and further each day as it becomes increasingly scarce.

Why Families in Somalia Have No Food

a camp in Somalia with tents

As nomads, many in Somaliland support their families by buying and selling goats. Families are able to grow their herds and save during the rainy season, where green grass for their goats and crops are plentiful.

So, when the dry season comes and there’s no grass or vegetation to be found, their savings are often depleted.

Except it’s been almost three years since Somaliland has seen rain.

The cycle that allows them to save is broken, and many families – including Maryan’s – have not found a way to recover.

Maryan’s Last Breakfast

At one time, Maryan was given a large bag of flour which she made to last as long as possible.

But one morning Maryan, as she looked into the bag, knew the time had come. Only a cup or so remained, enough for one final meal for her and her children.

Grabbing one end she tipped the bag upside down and shook it once, twice, into a waiting pan – as if to prove to herself there was truly nothing left.

Maryan walked out of the tent to prepare her makeshift stove. A thin porridge would be all she could make with the flour that remained.  Their last breakfast.

“We don’t know what we will eat tomorrow. Only God knows.”

a mom in Somalia cooks her last meal for her children

How Nutripackets Save Lives

In the camp, many families look out for one another, sharing their meals and resources. But it’s not enough, and many of the children are malnourished. Maryan’s eight-month-old often cries with hunger, her little body growing weaker each day without the nutrients she needs.

From the back of the World Concern vehicle, boxes of emergency nutrition packets were unloaded and carried across the entrance of the camp to a large tent. Mothers and their children, a majority of the little ones malnourished, were waiting to receive a supply of packets full of essential vitamins, fats, and minerals – critical to a child’s development.

a child is screened for malnutrition

Each child is screened for malnutrition and receives a three to six month supply of nutrition packets, depending on the severity of their condition. Only a month or so later, moms are able to see a marked difference in their children – no longer malnourished but healthy and growing.

Finding Hope in Somalia

Living one day to the next is how moms like Maryan survive in Somaliland. Not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow, it’s simpler to accept their lives as unchangeable rather than worry about the future. 

But as children happily eat the nutrition packets and begin to recover, there’s something rising throughout the camp that wasn’t there before – hope.

Hope not only for her children, but hope that soon her life will change for the better.