In honour of this year’s International Women’s Day theme, #eachforequal, muzmatch are exploring the significance of gender equality in the Muslim community today. Our charity partner for IWD 2020 is Forgotten Women, a charity run by women for women, a charity dedicated to helping women in crisis and emergencies. We've picked a few compelling stories where Forgotten Women have helped transform the lives of women around the world.
Fardowsa is a widow with 4 children who lives in shack with barely any roof to it in Somalia.
“My name is Fardowsa and I am a mother to four orphans as their father was killed whilst he was looking for provisions for the family. We don’t eat daily, the little food we eat is donated to us by our neighbours, we are unable to pay the rent for our home. I do not have the means to provide for my children. I have a disabled daughter I must care for; she is eight years old and she dribbles and soils herself constantly and doesn't sleep at night. I cannot afford to buy nappies for her.
She can't eat and is constantly in need of support. Day and night, I sit with her, even when feeding her I have to physically insert the food into the back of her mouth. My children don't go to school as I don't have the means to send them. We all know the state of the country, I cannot find support. I am asking for help to ease my hardship, to make my situation a little easier. I need an income so I can become self-sufficient and feed my children basic meals so they can survive. Please help me, I have no one else to ask for help.”
After Forgotten Women stepped in there were smiles all round!
Fardowsa today is a changed woman, she now has a purpose in life, a reason to get up in the morning. This kiosk has changed her life for good. Fardowsa takes her daughter Hafsa to work which gives her the flexibility to take care of her and earn a living at the same time. Fardowsa opted for her kiosk to be located directly outside her home, so she is able to care for her Hafsa.
She stands tall and proud in her new kiosk; she can now obtain an income to support herself and her family. She no longer needs to beg for food and money. After the handover, we asked Fardowsa how she was feeling. Her reply, “Happy, happy. I am happy!”
Zione is 27, she was raised by her grandmother having lost both her parents when she was an infant. At the youthful age of 15. Zione made a decision to get married in order to gain stability and protection in her life. Zione’s first child was born when she was just 17 and then went on to have another two children. Sadly, not long after, Zione’s husband contracted Malaria and because of financial constraints he was not able to get treatment and tragically passed away leaving Zione on the streets with her children as she was not able to continue rent payments for the house.
As a helping hand, a friend of Zione offered her a small dark storeroom as a temporary home next to the local community centre, which is roughly 1x2 metres. The level of poverty Zione faces is surreal and it’s the worst the team has witnessed on many levels. The small storeroom has no running water, kitchen, toilet or electricity. The cold at night is heightened as there are gaping holes in the wall and hard concrete floor where Zione and her 3 children sleep. Daily food is much more of a priority for survival which means she cannot afford to buy a mattress or blanket. So, she uses a thin worn out mosquito net to keep warm and to pad the cold floor. As a result of her harsh living all her children are infested with ringworm that can be seen peering out from the skin.
For Zione, one meal a day is what she strives to provide for her children, there are days when no food will enter her house and they will go to bed hungry. The sad reality is that as we go to sleep in our warm beds at night at the hotel lodge, this poor woman and her children are sleeping in a cold dark storeroom which is infested with mosquitos and engloomed with a layer of cold.
The smiling Zione is now well on her way to being a independent business woman, she has already made a profit in her business and the team are now looking to build her a new house so she can have the comfort of a warm home for her and her children whilst earning.
Join the conversation and use the hashtag #SayItSis on social media for your chance to clap back and speak up about your place in society a Muslim woman.
And please donate what you can to Forgotten Women and help give back voices to women all around the world!