Fadumo Dabo Hassan, 66 years of age and resides in Elqalo, Madina village in Mogadishu, Somalia. She is a widow with 3 children. She had 7 children and unfortunately, 4 of them passed away years ago while they were still young. Currently, she lives with her children and grandchildren who sadly are currently sick, in the same house.
I occasionally meet Fadumo several times at the Aden Abdulle Airport in Mogadishu carrying a huge white paper bag on her back and a packet of chewing gum, on the other hand, asking and seeking customers from the people using the airport. I am sure many of those taking flights from Mogadishu airport have seen or noticed her and perhaps bought something from her.
One morning, Fadumo sat next to me and she seemed tired. I didn’t hesitate to greet her and started a conversation with her. I love seeing women being proactive and productive and she caught my eyes many times. I looked to sit down with her and get to know her real story but never got the chance, I was either rushing to catch a plane or she was busy selling. Fortunately enough, on this particular day, she was just seated next to me out of the odds, I was very excited and asked if I could interview her and get to know her story and publish it.
She was more than happy to do so and I made use of her few minutes rest time to ask as much as I could. Fadumo had several names which are addressed to her by family, friends and neighbours. ‘Fadumo Shahley’ was one of them because she used to cook tea and sold to people on the street of Mogadishu. Most of her customers then were both young and older men.
Fadumo started selling at the airport in 2013. She sells biscuits, chewing gums, handkerchiefs, sweets and other small merchandise that someone travelling would find easier to have or carry while waiting for a flight.
Fadumo said “I move around for at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at the airport and the least I get per day is 50,000 Somali shilling.” (Equivalent to 2 dolllars). She added that sometimes she meets good samaritans who offer her with the extra amount needed to support her as a charitable deed.
She uses the money she gets to pay up her rental fee, buy food, clothes for herself and children which mostly comes to a total of $150. These, among other responsibility, force her to get up every morning and work till late in the evenings, moving around to sell her stuff so as to get enough income to provide for her needs.
She Said, “When I started coming, the airport officials accepted me to work at the airport and sell my stuff.”
Fadumo is an elderly woman and still strives to work, make an income and most importantly be an example and have an impact to the community that there is still hope for one to start up and work for him or herself no matter the age, situation or circumstances that befall them.
Fadumo said that she and her children have to share responsibility and work to survive and earn a livelihood. With a beaming face, Fadumo added, “I will continue working until probably I lose my site or not able to handle myself in public.”
She mentioned that elderly people like her stay home and are supported by their children but that’s not her case, therefore, she needs to work extra hard to support herself plus her grandchildren.
Fadumo with sheer determination said, “No matter the circumstance I still love my job even though I am developing painful feet due to long walks from home to the airport and back and within the airport to look for customers.”
Fadumo encourages other young people and women to get educated, look for opportunities and get a decent livelihood so as to come out of such situations she is in.
I am sure Fadumo was wise and had many stories that would inspire people but because of less time we had together, I was not able to capture all. I can imagine what she went through and how she has built her resilient over that long period of time including the sacrifice she makes for her family. Fadumo is a hero to her children, grandchildren, to me and I believe to also many of you who will read her story will be inspired by her determination.
If well-wishers would like to support Fadumo and her sick grandchildren kindly contact her through Her telephone number +252617047751.
By: Bisharo A. Hussein