A Berkad is a traditional rainwater catchment system. LIFE has worked with various villages in Somalia to build berkads. Recently they built one outside of Hargeisa. A local doctor is part of the community that collects the water, treats it, and then uses it in his hospital. Many villages have asked for help to build berkads because they receive adequate rainfall and it helps store and collect the water for future use. Below are some photos from the final project.
In collaboration with the Italian Military, LIFE did a distribution to a remote village in Djibouti. We gave out soccer balls, rice and bean packets, and school supply kits. This village is located 15-20 km from the nearest medical facility or school. There is not a lot to do there so handing out soccer balls provides the children (and adults) with something fun to do. People love soccer in Djibouti and by distributing the balls it gives them more than just food and clothing; we are trying to show that we care about all aspects of their life.
Our project house in Djibouti has started their fall training classes. The project house is a place where young women, chosen and vetted by our local staff, come and learn valuable skills such as sewing and baking. Currently the girls are working on sewing camel bags. These bags are made from left over fabric donated to LIFE. The insides are lined with flour bags, which makes them easy to wipe clean. On the outside the girls trace and cut out shapes like camels and the continent of Africa. These bags are then sold at local bazaars.
We have been working with partners on the ground in Somalia to dig for wells in rural communities. Many of the people living in the areas are returning from refugee camps such as Dadaab.
In the Farhan Camp there are 137 families and many of them have helped take part in digging the well. Yahye, the chairman of the camp, thanked us for helping bring clean water to their village. He said, “My happiness can’t conclude here, but I would like to thank you for this well. It is useful for many people living in this camp and we wish for more.”
In Khalid Camp there are over 91 families, and many of them also helped dig the well. Hilawle, the governor of the camp, said he was happy for this opportunity. I am pleased for this program and the water is necessary for life. We all think we will be ok when the water is ok, and I will wish for another aids like this foundation.”
Ahmed has been crippled for 15 years. He did not have a wheelchair so he would crawl on the ground in order to get around or he had to depend on someone else to take him places. Ahmed is 45 years old and received a wheelchair for the first time. He also received a special-made toilet. Our partners said that by giving Ahmed a wheelchair and toilet tailored to his needs that we were giving him the opportunity to a dignified life.
Recently LIFE donated uniforms to some soccer teams in Garissa, Kenya. The team named Mwamba FC means Rock in Swahili. Volunteers coach the team and the players range from young students to graduates, most who are from local tribes in the surrounding communities. The coaches use a whole life coaching method, meaning they don’t just teach their players how to play soccer, but they also teach them valuable life skills. They have received numerous testimonies of youth who have transformed their lives because of this method. Many of the players have stopped taking drugs like khat or miraa and have learned the importance of keeping their bodies healthy.
“Donations are the best gift, thank you,” said Mo, the coach of one the girl’s basketball team in Djibouti. The girls that play together have a very tight bond. “It brings people together,” said Mo.
Sports have taught them disciplines that they may not be learning elsewhere. There are girls from all neighborhoods playing together. One of the girls, Farah, age 28, has been playing basketball since age 12. She says they often how to go out and encourage the girls to come to practice despite how others may perceive them.
For the distribution, the federation contacted all the coach’s and basketball teams. One girl’s team plus six other men’s teams were present. Each team received a pair of shoes for each player and one basketball for the team to use. It was held at the basketball gym in town, an open-wall, covered concrete gym with stadium seating. They had decided to do the distribution that day and called all of the players and coaches. The coaches and Farah could not believe how many people had showed up on such short notice. The players were so excited to receive the new shoes, especially since they could be used for basketball.
“Some people don’t have any shoes,” said Mo. “While we may not make very much money being a coach, seeing the girls smiling and having fun is enough money for me.”
In the mountain region of Djibouti during the fall and spring, temperatures can dip to around 50 degrees F. For a people who are used to 90+ temperatures this can be quite a shock to their systems. While also dealing with a lack of food and living in a vulnerable community, many of the women, children, and elderly are left suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, etc. A local association working in this region reached out to us asking for assistance. We were able to provide rice packets to 120 families.
Fatouma Agaita (pictured right) is a mother of four and was thrilled to receive the rice. She said, “We are living by the grace of God and you cannot imagine how we are happy to get this food. You can see by the smiles of our children that it is not easy for us to get food. But today we thank God who sent you to give us free food. I request just to remember our vulnerability every time you get something to eat or to wear. Please, don’t throw them out but remember that there are some people that can only live for the things that other people can consider without valor.’’
Alimo (pictured above left), a mother of 5 said, “Thanks a lot for bringing us this aid. I’ m very happy because I’ve received food for my children. Really I did not have anything to feed my family today. My other children are in the main road begging and this is our daily life. I am especially touched for the work you are doing, providing food to the vulnerable people. I really want to say thank you to the donors, and I will pray for them. Please, remember us every time you have opportunities. All my community here are homeless and we can be chased away by the government to find another place, please remember us. Again and again I say thank you.’’
In 2015 LIFE distributed clothes and other aid to around 200 families who became homeless after their huts were intentionally destroyed. the people who required the families to leave gave some advance notice, but the residents did not make appropriate preparations in time. They were not provided an alternate place to live, and in the process, they lost their few belongings. Grateful mothers gathered at the community center to receive clothes and food for their children. Community leaders sincerely appreciated the timely gifts for their people.
Financed by the American State Department through the Julia Taft Fund, Local Initiatives for Education (L.I.F.E.) was able to provide a place for 60 students from different parts of the refugee camp to come and learn how to sew. The students, in groups of 20, work three hours a day for three days a week. The students begin with little or no experience in sewing, and are taught by former students of the sewing project. Skills taught include basic cutting, advanced clothes creating, and maintenance of the machines. In February of 2016, 43 students graduated from the sewing center. These graduates are now able to use their skills to provide an income for their family.