Hiba Suleiman Arwale lives in Nasa-Hablood, a camp for internally displaced people east of Hargeisa.
She and four of her children left their rural village to gain access to health facilities in the capital. They are among thousands of Somaliland residents displaced from their homes in recent years. Today, they are among about 600 families from Somaliland, Somalia, and Yemen living in Nasa-Hablood, which is known locally as ‘Istanbul IDP’.
Nasa-Hablood's first residents arrived in 2013, and women and children make up the vast majority of the population. Because the camp is located on private property, residents can only build traditional Somali nomadic homes, and cannot construct toilets, schools, or healthcare facilities. Eviction is a constant worry.
The World Diabetes Foundation and SOS Children's Villages Somaliland are working together to meet the community's immediate needs while addressing long-term resilience development.
Yet, the camp is organized from the bottom up, following cultural legacies of strong societal bonds and division of leadership; such that in the Nasa-Hablood camp, elected leaders are serving as the intermediaries between the World Diabetes Foundation, SOS Children´s Village Somaliland, and the Ministry of Health, as well as the community members. These elected leaders play a key role in advocating for those living in the camp and ensuring that their needs are met.
Hiba is the mother of seven children, four of whom have diabetes.
“I had never heard of diabetes before. As a result, I had no idea what was wrong with my children. They appeared to be happy and playing with other children one moment, and then they were lying on the ground, unable to walk the next. They would occasionally faint and then wake up after a few days.
I would summon the village's religious healers, but they could not cure them. In our areas, there were no doctors or medical facilities. So my husband and I decided that I should accompany them to Hargeisa for medical treatment. He would remain with the other three. We were displaced and separated, not because of the drought's hardships and struggles but because we could not watch our children die.
I had no idea what would happen to us when I left for the city. We didn't have any money. We simply put our faith in God. We went to Hargeisa's Group Hospital, where they screened the children and diagnosed them with diabetes. I was stunned when the doctor told me there was no cure. They had a chronic illness that required lifelong care. I was also hesitant to inject my children with a substance I didn't know or understand.
However, after a while, I began to see the benefits of the medication, but I could only afford insulin for two of my children. So they shared it among the four of them. I didn't have a refrigerator to keep the insulin in, so a shop owner let me keep it at her house. Eventually I thought of storing the insulin in a box. I would put ice inside and replace it when it melted, but it is also expensive; each time, I pay 600 Somaliland shillings.
We've been at the Istanbul IDP for four years, and when I learned about the WDF-funded project last year, I was relieved that diabetes was finally being addressed throughout the camp. The awareness sessions helped me know more about how to care for my children's health. I'm also looking forward to receiving vocational training and starting a small business to support my family.”
Hiba Suleiman Arwale and her family are beneficiaries of WDF's 2022 fundraiser project, Increasing awareness and providing diabetes care in vulnerable communities in Hargeisa, Somaliland