Amal Mohammud’s Story

Date Publish: 
Somalia / Africa and Middle East

Recurrent conflict and a collapsed justice system have left many Somalis mentally scarred from cycles of aggression and violence. To encourage social cohesion, IOM’s Transition Initiatives for Stabilization programme is training 40,000 people on forgiveness, different approaches to conflict transformation and breaking cycles of revenge.

Amal Mohammud* owns a beauty salon in Mogadishu and tells us how she has benefited from social reconciliation sessions:

“I used to engage in a fight every day. We use machetes. Women have attacked me with knives, so I did the same. Now things have changed. My son had a fight with one of his friends in our neighbourhood. Then his whole family came after him. He suffered a severe head injury and needed stitches. People in my neighbourhood started saying ‘Amal will never let this go, because her child was hurt.’ But, when I came back from the market, I went to the friend’s house with my son and told them: “We are sorry.” The family was astounded. They looked at me, utterly astonished and I just walked away with my child. Now everyone asks, ‘what has come over her?’ I used to get angry easily, but trauma healing has changed my life.

When I started participating in the programme, I was overwhelmed by emotion. My whole personality has changed. Now I apologize to anyone who has annoyed me. I never used to allow myself to cry, but during the workshop I shed tears when I opened up about my past. I used to beat people; I used to get beaten up. Simple. Trauma healing has given me the opportunity to heal and forgive.

We will not achieve any progress in life if people keep looking back. Socialize with the community. Be happy, and move on.”

Transition Initiatives for Stabilization (TIS) is a USAID-funded, quick impact programme promoting peace in Somalia. TIS supports Somali-ownership and aims to build confidence and cohesion between government institutions and its citizens by improving public services. Under the TIS programme, IOM is implementing over 200 activities in Somaliland and Mogadishu.

*Name changed