THE FARM MANAGER
Isaac Mohammed, 50, comes from Buale, in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia, where he used to manage a small farm.
“I had more than 100 cattle. Now they are all dead. I have not been able to harvest anything in the past four years,” he said.
When his three-year-old son Mohammed Issa Mohammed fell sick because of severe malnutrition, he decided to collect all the money he had and rent a donkey cart, and leave with his two wives and nine children.
“It took us 18 days to reach the Ifo camp. All this time I kept my son on my lap, praying for him not to die,” he said. “It was the most difficult experience of my life.”
His son is now recovering at a hospital inside the camp, constantly attended by his father. His wife has just given birth in the camp to another child and is still recovering. After his son is discharged, Mohammed will start thinking about his new life at Ifo.
“I would like to move from here, but realistically, this is the best life I can aspire to for now,” he said.
THE CATTLE HERDER
Abdi Omar, 80, reached the Ifo camp six days ago, after a two-week journey from his home village of Afmadow, in the Lower Juba region.
After walking all the way to the border town of Doble, he managed to find a vehicle for his family of eight for the last part of the trip. A former cattle herder, he used to own 10 cows and more than 100 goats.
The drought has killed almost all of them, forcing him to sell his last remaining animals to raise money for the arduous journey.
“This is the worst drought that I have ever seen in my life,” he said. “Thirst and hunger were our companions throughout the whole journey, but fortunately we all managed to arrive here.”
He said that he had received his first food rations three days ago, but was yet to be given a tent for his family.
Omar is now being hosted by one of his sons who settled in Ifo a few years ago. He said he hopes that his family will adapt to the new environment as soon as possible.
“How can I ever miss my country if I just ran away from it?” he said.
Ibrahim Isaac, 35, a farmer from Bardhere, in the western Gedo region, has been looking after his four-year-old daughter, Adey, on his own since his wife died earlier this year. His farm, along the Juba river, became unproductive and he decided last month to move to Kenya.
“The decision was a painful one. I didn’t have any money to pay for transport, so we had to walk all the way,” he said. “When we reached here, three days ago, our feet were full of bruises and cuts.”
His main concern is the health of his daughter. She felt sick immediately after reaching the Daghaley camp in Dadaab and was treated by relatives who live here, and is now recovering.
“I had to stay with her, so I couldn’t register and have not been given any food so far,” he said.
After settling here he said that he planned to look for a job.
“I have been a farmer since I was 15, but I have now decided to do something else,” he said. “Cultivating in this region is too difficult and unrewarding. And the drought in Somalia might go on for years and years.”
Adey Salat, 23, is from the village of Dinsor in southern Somalia. She arrived at Ifo five months ago with her five children, after her family farm was hit by the drought.
With no money to pay for transport, she had to walk for 25 days.