ACTNews, BAIDOA – From Fokker F50 plane’s murky, old window, the land beneath Bay Province looked yellowish. Arid, with just one or two squares of greenery. A nuance that belongs to desert vegetation. The plane went down from its initial elevation, in less than one hour since it had taken off from Aden Adde Airport, the major airport of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.
We, Global Qurban Team for Somalia, departed for Baidoa, a vital city in Bay Province. A city that we had visited years ago, right on the same momentum: Eid al Adha. A city of 500 thousand people that make it the third biggest city in the county. However, the majority of these people are internal displaced persons (IDPs), homeless and still seek for shelter.
Traveling from Mogadishu to Baidoa on land would have taken us half day and 244 kilometers. However, Fokker F50 managed to cut the travel time to just one hour. Most passengers on the flight happened to be humanitarian workers, and Baidoa residents who travel from Mogadishu to Baidoa several times a month.
Morose and wistful Baidoa
There was unusual crowd that day, the second day of Eid al Adha, at Baidoa airport. Around one platoon of African Peace Corps, with Ethiopian flag on their berets, were ready to get into Hercules plane.
“They will go back to their country this Eid after finishing their task in Baidoa. Their team will be replaced in the next few days by a new military team, which also came from Ethiopia,” said Aweis, a representative of Global Qurban partner who accompanied us to Baidoa.
This platoon gave us the depiction of how civilians’ safety in Baidoa were still at stake. Just like Mogadishu, it was easy to find civilians carrying rifles around town to protect themselves. Somalia just woke up from ever-lasting civil war, and the conflict had left a permanent footprint in isolated town such as Baidoa.
History noted that Baidoa was saved from extremist groups in 2012. It was so recent, a new age of hope after years of conflict that haunted Baidoa.
However, crisis hasn’t ceased to exist in Baidoa. The crisis has transformed into refugee and economic crisis that kept Baidoa wistful.
Numan Sharif, another representative of Global Qurban’s partner told us that poverty and drought were two main problems in Baidoa. All along the streets from Baidoa to the town center, dozens of refugee tents lined up in disarray.
“These tents are shelter for refugees who came from outside Baidoa. They were forced to migrate from their villages, dozens to hundred kilometers away from Baidoa. The reason is water scarcity. It was so dry outside Baidoa, even though here we also lack water,” said Numan.
Moving on dirt road outside the airport, we hurried to the location where the qurbani animals were slaughtered, at an open, sandy field. Donkeys and old cars flocked the streets. Some donkeys carried drums of clean water that could only be accessed from water reservoir at the town center.
Our visit to Baidoa had one reason. There was a trust to deliver qurbani from Indonesia in this town. Approximately 300 qurbani cows would be slaughtered by Global Qurban for Baidao.
Rare meat gives joy
In three days, all qurbani animals from Indonesia were finally slaughtered in Baidoa. However, qurbani meat was distributed to various camps. Four refugee camps across Baidoa we visited, one by one. Starting from Oomane, Xannanol, Towfiiq, to Wasiila. Each camp had similar wistful stories.
Take, for example, Khadija Cabdi Omar, a 40-year-old mother of five who stayed at Oomane camp. Khadija told us that her fate was similar to other refugees of Baidoa. She came from a village named Qansaxdhere, still in Bay Province. She was forced to seek refuge in Baidoa to survive.
“Everything dried out in Qansaxdhere. There was no water. We left our village, our home, and our farmlands. We stay at Oomane Camp to survive,” said Khadija.
Mursal Yusuf Adam (46), another IDP, was no different. With his wife and seven children, he stayed at Oomane camp. In his daily lie, he worked as a porter for a store in Baidoa. Mursal told us, he took the risk to bring all this family members to escape Diinsor, a village that neighbored Qansazdhere, 126 kilometers away from Southeast Baidoa.
“I used to work as farmer in Diinsor. All lands dried out. There was no rain, no water. Three seasons changed, and rain still didn’t fall. I decided to go to Baidoa. Even though water is still lacking in Baidoa, at least we can hope water aid will come,” said Adam.
On Eid al Adha day, two people we bumped into, Khadija and Mursal, were forced to celebrate their Eid modestly. No celebration, no hope of savoring meat. Until one afternoon, on the first and second day after Eid, a truck filled with fresh beef packages visited Oomane Camp.
“To buy a piece of meat while we are unemployed is an impossibility. But today we are overjoyed. Today, qurbani meat come from Indonesia. Send our regards to our Muslim brothers and sisters in Indonesia. May they always feel happy until Jannah,” said Khadija.
A piece or two pieces of meat would also mean luxury for Mursal. He said, his children had long not tasted meat. Usually, inside their tent, Mursal and his family only cooked simple nuts and vegetables.
“We pray that Allah received our qurbani. May He give back the best to you, Indonesians,” Mursal concluded.