Fartun had to flee and now owns a tailoring business

By Marten Groen

Copywriter at Wilde Ganzen.

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43-year-old Fartun Yuusuf lives in Shabelle refugee camp in Somalia. She is one of millions of Somalis who fled violence in her country. For almost 30 years there have been conflicts in this African country, and in recent years Al-Shabaab has been sowing death and destruction by performing terrorist attacks. 

Fartun lives with her seven children in a camp where people are crammed together under poor conditions. This causes diseases such as cholera and measles. Her husband died of chronic asthma, leaving parenting entirely on her shoulders. With no home of her own and no job, she depends on food parcels distributed by international aid organisations. Sometimes days pass before she can give her children enough to eat again. 

Vocational training for refugees 

But Fartun is not a woman who sits by. She signed up for a training programme to become a garment maker, set up by the Kaalo Nederland Garowe Foundation and supported by Wilde Ganzen. The aim of this project is to improve the economic position of women in Somalia’s refugee camps by giving them vocational training. Fartun learned how to design, measure and make clothes in all kinds of different styles. After months of training, she mastered the craft. 

Support for setting up own business 

The beauty of this project lies in the location of the classes: they all took place in the camp. There was no need to build a school first. And women like Fartun do not just learn a trade there: they are also encouraged to start their own businesses. She got a sewing machine and borrowed money from a friend to start her own tailoring business. In the beginning, it was not easy. She had few customers and earned little. But she persevered and once people saw how good she was, her business began to take off. More and more customers came to find her for an assignment.  

The vocational training provided by Kaalo Foundation Netherlands Garowe ensured that Fartun can now feed her children every day as well as pay their school fees. She told us that she had never dreamt of setting up her own business, because she had no understanding of entrepreneurship and no means to set up a shop. What seemed impossible to her has now come true.   

Officially recognised by the government 

Fartun is one of the many women who were able to receive training thanks to this project. They receive a certificate from the government, which means their training is also officially recognised. And that is important, because unemployment in this area is incredibly high. By providing vocational training that matches the demand in the refugee camp and the region, women like Fartun get a better life and become an example for other women and girls in the camp.