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Celebrating strong moms on Mother’s Day

By Divya Amladi
Ayan with her son Mohammed outside of their home in a settlement for people internally displaced in Garadag, Somaliland. Photo: Petterik Wiggers/Oxfam

Mothers fighting famine and extreme levels of hunger put the needs of their children above their own. 

On Mother’s Day, we salute hard-working mothers around the world, especially those who have an added challenge of raising their children while dealing with famine and food shortages.

Right now, 30 million people are facing severe food shortages. At the whim of social and environmental factors such as conflict, unstable governments, and climate change, these women in Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan fight to protect what they have left: their children.  

Read about these exceptional mothers and their struggles to meet a goal many moms have for their children – keeping them happy and healthy. 

Bisharo

Bisharo with her one-month-old baby in the Korile temporary settlement, Somali Region, Ethiopia. Photo: Tina Hillier/Oxfam

This baby is not Bisharo’s first. She has five other children. But this one, unlike the others, has no name. In her culture, naming a child requires the slaughtering of a goat. But the drought has robbed the family of almost all its livestock. A naming celebration is out of the question.

Nyabor

Nyabor with her daughter Rebecca in Panyijar County, South Sudan. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam

With her daughter Rebecca running a high fever and vomiting, Nyabor walked an hour to get to the nearest hospital. She was given a medication for upset stomach. Though it is not the right prescription for Rebecca’s ailment, it is the only medication to be found.

Sabaad

Sabaad Mohammud Mussa, 23, with eight-year-old Saeeda, five-year-old Nasra, and three-year-old Mohammad at her temporary home in the Barbayaal Ciyou Settlement in the Sanaag region of Somaliland. Photo: Petterik Wiggers/Oxfam

Sabaad Mohammud Mussa portions out a meal of injera bread, rice, and tea to her three young children, all under the age of eight. This will be the only meal they eat all day, so they will have to make it last. Mussa, who is raising her children on her own at the moment, has enough food to sustain them for four days. After that, she says, she’s not sure what they will do.

Seynes

Seynes Awil, 30, with five of her eight daughters outside their temporary home in Fadigaab, Somaliland. Photo: Petterik Wiggers/Oxfam

Last summer, drought decimated Seynes Awil’s livelihood. Before the drought, she and her husband tended to 400 sheep, 100 camels, and seven donkeys. They fed their eight children—all girls—meat and milk produced by their animals, and earned a living selling meat and animal fat. Now, all of that is finished, she says.

Tabitha

Tabitha and her daughter in Nyal, South Sudan. Her daughter sucks on a “tuok,” a seed that is a last resort for food. Bruno Bierrenbach Feder/Oxfam

“We feed on water lilies, fish, and anything we could find in the river. What we currently need is food, medication and NFIs [non-food items] shall be of great assistance to us. The more time it takes the worse it shall be for us.”

Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect the individuals.


Oxfam is helping nearly two million people in hunger-ravaged countries, providing families with desperately needed food, clean drinking water, and sanitation. But we need to scale up those efforts, and we urgently need your support to help save lives. Join Oxfam in giving these families, and others like them, the support they need to survive.

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