Hareda’s Story, Ethiopia

Hareda and her family in Hilaweyn. Photo by IRC/2014.

Hareda is a 37-year-old Somali refugee woman, who lives in Hilaweyn refugee camp, in Dollo Ado. Hareda was born in the small village Koronbod in Somalia. She was married in 1999 and has 7 children, 3 daughters and 4 sons.

In 2011, two of my children died in the heavy drought. I was overwhelmed with my fear of losing more of my dear ones because I realized that none of them would survive in such severe conditions. My husband and I decided to leave my village and come to Dollo Ado refugee camp to save their lives.  We came on foot with no food, no water and no security. It was the most difficult  time in my life. We reached Dollo Ado in Ethiopia and were relocated by UNHCR to the Hilaweyn refugee camp.

At the beginning, I wasn’t very comfortable. I didn’t know my neighbors. I was afraid of strangers. It was different from home. But things started to change gradually. I joined literacy classes, at the Women and Girls Wellness Center in the camp for eight months. I learned how to read and write in Somali language, and I applied for jobs which required literacy. I am now working as an incentive worker.

Photo by IRC/2014.



When I look back at 2011, when I was suffering starvation with my family in Koronbod and my tough journey to Ethiopia, I feel thankful and powerful. I encourage other refugee women to bring about change in their own lives. They can learn and grow.  I will make sure that my children finish their schooling because that is the only power that will help them to survive.


1 family torn apart by war is too many

Learn more about our work with refugees at UNHCR.org