Life in a pastoralist family; Zahra's story

Tuesday 23 June 2020


Zahra(name changed for protection)15, is a grade six student at a primary school in Somali Region. Zahra is the second born for her parents who have four other children. Currently, Zahra and many other children in her village are no longer going to school due to the Coronavirus pandemic and are missing the school meals that, for most children at the village is often the only and most reliable daily meal. 

Zahra’s story in her own words (quotes):

I am 15 years old. I have two sisters and two brothers. My parents are pastoralists, and our livelihood is mainly dependant on our livestock. Our animals mean everything to us. We would usually sell them at the local market nearby the border with Djibouti and with the money; we would buy food. But now since the border with Djibouti is closed because of the Coronavirus, and we are no longer able to sell our animals. These days, food prices are increasing by the day while the money we get from selling our livestock is diminishing at the same time. I am worried that if the situation does not improve, we will not be able to earn money, which means we cannot buy food, and eventually starve.

Before three months, things were very good for me. I was enjoying school in grade six. . When we were in school, we used to play with our friends and learn. The school also used to provide us with school meal every day. Now after this virus, I could not go to school, and I could not see my friends.  I miss my school and my friends so much. 

It has been nearly three months since schools were closed and like many of the children here, I spend most of my time looking after the livestock and I sometimes help my mother with household chores like cleaning and cooking. My mum is my hero, because she is the best mum to me. She supports and care for me and my brothers and sisters.  

My message to all the children in the lockdown is to focus on their study, to read their books and keep on learning at home. In order to contain the virus, children needs to listen to what the health workers and parents say. We also need to wear masks and wash our hands with soap and water. I wish this virus could just go away, so I can go back to school and play with my friends. When coronavirus is over and when everything returns to normal, the first thing I would like to do is to go back to school as I used to. 

What Save the Children doing to help Zahra and other children in her village:

Through its NORAD funded Building Resilience of Education System project in Somali region and as part of the school feeding program, Save the Children has distributed take-home food ration to parents of children in Sitti zone of the Somali Region who are missing out on school meals due to COVID-19 school closures. Some 26,000 children have benefited from the food handouts.