Tea Talks Change Fartun’s Life, Inspiring Her to Help Others

Fartun is a 23-year-old Somali refugee residing in Melkadida camp in the Dollo Ado refugee complex in Ethiopia. As a child, Fartun lost her father and lived with her single mother and two brothers in Somalia. After her father’s death, she stopped going to school because she had to help her mother make traditional baskets and clothes in order to survive.

At the age of 16, Fartun was forced to marry a man 24 years her senior. Two years later, she was a mother of two. In 2010, Fartun lost her mother and older brother to conflict. As fighting intensified in Somalia, she left her husband and fled to Ethiopia with her family of five.

Two months after arriving in Melkadida, Fartun heard about International Medical Corps’ weekly awareness sessions on gender-based violence (GBV). One day, she decided to attend a tea-talk ceremony that featured a discussion about forced marriage. Touched by the topic, Fartun shared her own story of forced marriage. She then expressed a willingness to join her colleagues in improving awareness of GBV. Fartun could not read the GBV flip chart messages used by her colleagues, but she nonetheless became very active in tea-talk sessions and started memorizing picture stories by heart.

After completing a series of awareness sessions on GBV, Fartun decided to learn how to read and write. A few months later, she was literate in Somali. In November 2012, after successfully passing all her written and oral exams, Fartun applied to International Medical Corps as a community mobilizer in Melkadida camp. Today, Fartun works as an International Medical Corps refugee social worker in Melkadida, using her arts and crafts skills to teach at the women’s center.

She says “I would like to tell every Somali refugee woman that International Medical Corps can help bring change in your life because International Medical Corps did it in my life. Today, I am able to take care of myself and my family.”

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