In Hudur, Somalia, women collect water at a well rehabilitated by Action Against Hunger.

A Day in the Life of a Mother in Rural Somalia

Every day, mothers around the world take on so much: from cooking meals for their families to earning an income; from trips to the doctor to visits with friends. On a recent Wednesday, our team followed Madina Mohamed – a mother of seven in Hudur, Somalia – as she went through a typical day. 

Madina’s Wednesday

5:30 AM
Madina wakes up and begins preparing Somali injera – a sourdough pancake – for her children.

6:30 AM
Milks one of the family’s goats for part of the family’s breakfast.

7:00 AM
Releases her five goats and three sheep for a day out in the field with a caretaker, who herds livestock for their neighbors at a cost.

7:30 AM
Prepares her children and her grandchildren for Quranic School, also known as the Madrassa. She also does some household chores with the help of her oldest daughter.

8:00 AM
Goes to her market stall and sells groceries for a few hours until her 16-year-old daughter, Fatuma, takes over.

Madina and her two-year-old son, Abdinasir.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

10:00 AM
Madina and her two-year-old son, Abdinasir, walk to the Action Against Hunger Maternal and Child Health Center in Hudur. Last night, Abdinasir developed a fever, and she was awake most of the night caring for him.

10:15 AM
At the health center, the nurse checks on Abdinasir. Madina is sent to the pharmacy to get the recommended antibiotics.

A mother-to-mother support group meets at the Action Against Hunger Maternal and Child Health Center .

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

10:30 AM
One of the mother-to-mother support groups led by Action Against Hunger meets today, and Madina joins the session. Today’s topic is breastfeeding: pregnant women and mothers with young children share their experiences. The community health worker leading the meeting also talks about healthy diets for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.

11:30 AM
It’s very hot today – and most days – so Madina heads home and prepares her children and grandchildren for a bath. She makes sure that the little ones can cool off and be comfortable.

Madina prepares water for a bath to help her children keep cool.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

11:45 AM
Lunchtime! Madina prepares sorghum, a cereal that is usually eaten with goat or camel milk. It is highly nutritious for the children and for the entire household.

12:00 PM
There are three children under five in the household: Madina’s son, Abdinasir, and two of her grandchildren. Every Wednesday, she takes out a color-coded measuring tape – known as a mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) band – and wraps it around each of their arms. It’s an easy way to check their nutrition status, much like a thermometer can take a child’s temperature.

A member of Action Against Hunger's team in Somalia shows the mid-upper arm circumference band -- a tool used to measure a child's nutrition status. Measurements in the green are good, but yellow and red indicate acute malnutrition.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

12:15 PM
Madina goes to one of the Action Against Hunger-rehabilitated shallow wells in the village. Using 20-liter containers, Madina and her daughter fetch enough water to clean the week’s laundry. With two of her daughters, they wash all the clothes on the veranda.

Madina lays clean clothes out to dry in the sun.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

1:50 PM
Accompanies her children and grandchildren to the Madrassa. Five days a week, the children attend both morning and afternoon sessions at the school.

2:00 PM
It’s unbearably hot now – over 95 degrees – and it’s time for a nap. Most of the villagers close their shops in the heat of the afternoon.  

Madina sits with some of her children and grandchildren.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

4:00 – 6:00 PM
Takes care of the children and meets up with other mothers to socialize and chat.

6:15 – 6:40 PM
Medina makes sure the goats and sheep are back in the shed, and she milks another goat.

6:40 – 7:30 PM
Dinner tonight is rice and beans. Madina cooks and serves the meal with a cup of goat milk.

Madina cooks rice and beans for the family's dinner.

Photo: Fardosa Hussein
for Action Against Hunger,

8:00 PM
Prepares the children for a good night’s sleep. She brings out a mat, a mattress, and a radio so she can listen to the day’s news.

9:00 PM
Madina calls one of her older sons. He still lives in Tiyeglow, their home village. Fortunately, he picks up the phone and Madina is overjoyed – she has been trying to get in touch with him for almost two weeks. They talk for about an hour before she heads back inside and goes to sleep.  

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Action Against Hunger is the world’s hunger specialist and leader in a global movement that aims to end life-threatening hunger for good within our lifetimes. For 40 years, the humanitarian and development organization has been on the front lines, treating and preventing hunger across nearly 50 countries. It served more than 21 million people in 2018 alone.