Dhiban: A story of hope and redemption from Somalia

Dhiban is a fifteen-year-old young woman living in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in El-Dhanan in the Jazeera zone, Somalia. Because of a cholera outbreak in her village, she has lost both her parents at the age of four. Alone and with no family, Dhiban was given in custody to her aunt who grew her up but never allowed her to receive neither a formal nor informal education, unlike her cousins. When she turned fourteen, the woman decided to marry Dhiban off to one of her sons, who was seventeen years old and struggled with addictions, in the hope that the marriage could help him get out of his situation.

Sadly, Dhiban’s husband turned out to be a violent man who believes she belongs to him and frequently is aggressive and beats her up. Together they have a baby son of twelve months – born with some health difficulties – and she is currently three months into her second pregnancy. Dhiban receives no support from her husband and the rest of her family, therefore – to feed herself and her baby – she does small jobs like washing clothes for other families in the area or tilling the fields in close-by farms. However, the money she earns is not enough for her and her baby and her drunk husband often takes her daily wages with violence. Dhiban would like to remarry, but she cannot because her husband refuses to accept the divorce. With an abusive marriage, no education and no stable income, she feels socially neglected and her only hope is to see her child growing safely despite his health challenges.

Dhiban fist came into contact with Cesvi three years ago, when she came to one of Cesvi’s mother and child health centres (MCH) in need for medical assistance. At the centre, she met a group of women and asked if she could join the session. In the area, Cesvi’s MCH centre is the only place where people can access basic health and nutrition services. Now, through to the project Multisectoral humanitarian assistance in response to floods and consequences of prolonged drought in Somalia funded by AICS – the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development – Dhiban has had access to medical and nutrition services for her and her baby. “Before Cesvi’s support, me and my son were in a state of hopelessness”, she recounts. Furthermore, Dhiban has received psychological counselling to help her process the difficulties she is experiencing at home with her husband and his family. “When I gave up in life because of the violence I was facing from my husband, Cesvi helped me. The psychological support given to me at the MCH finally enabled me to have a positive look about life and to think there is a way out from my condition”. Finally, the woman has participated to a training for gender-based violence (GBV) awareness which has allowed her to better understand her rights and to seek for legal support to divorce from her husband.

Now, Dhiban hopes to live a life free from violence and fear. She plans on participating to some vocational trainings to acquire technical skills that will allow her to have a stable income and to live independently. “Cesvi’s intervention has changed so many things in my life and in that of my son and I truly appreciate that”, said Dhiban to our staff.