The hotel is basic but clean and with friendly staff. As we have only a week in Mogadishu, no time to waste and Sunday is like a Monday here, offices are open. We shower, have a quick bite and head to the office. It is literally 2 houses away from the hotel but because of security regulations, we have to be escorted by the same guys with guns who brought us from the airport. I don’t even try to fight this, am just happy to be in Mogadishu and gonna go along with madness. We drive for like 30 seconds and get to the office. Staff are helpful and make the time to learn details of what I am here for and offer to help by arranging visits to beneficiaries and calling the local authorities in advance. Am really grateful coz these guys can make all the difference to my trip and if they are helpful then my mission will be accomplished.
We spend couple of hours going thru the details of the next 4 days’ visits and we choose 2 groups of beneficiaries to visit: people receiving cash relief as a result of the recent droughts and small business grants given to beneficiaries trading in local markets. We choose 3 districts: Wadajir, Xamar Weyne and Waaberi. I am particularly excited to visit Waaberi because I partly grew up there and hoped to have a chance to steal a visit to my grandfather’s house, where we lived.
There is no movement at all in Mogadishu after sunset and so the office closes at 3:30 to give staff time to get home before sunset. That gave us time to rest and prepare for a busy week. I had no idea that it was a hot and humid season, it was unbearable to wear the hijab in this heat and the only ACs are in our rooms and offices. The hotel reception and lounge area, the only place with internet access, has no AC! So you choose to sweat with your internet at the lounge or be comfortable in your room with no access to internet, nice. I would worry about that 2moro, today, am just too tired and going to bed early.
Next day we go to the office at 7:30 to learn the city is at a standstill and colleagues on the other side of town can’t come to the office. Apparently, the army is celebrating, who knows what, and they road-blocked most of the city to avoid Al-Shabaab infiltration. This means no beneficiary visits, welcome to Mogadishu, where plans change by the second. I spend the day at the office to learn more about the beneficiaries and projects I will be working with. It is also an opportunity to spend more time and get to know the staff in Mogadishu office. Am amazed by how competent, knowledgeable and helpful they are. Anything I ask, I get detailed and very helpful answer, they seem on top of their work.
Day 3 in Mogadishu, no drama and no army celebrations so we are clear to go and I am accompanied by 2 staff one male and the other female, one with the Cash Relief project and the other with the Small Biz Grants project. We start with dress code to ensure I don’t stand out by wearing the ‘wrong’ clothes. My female colleague is kind enough to bring me an acceptable and popular wear called ‘jilbaab’, only problem was, it was blood red and I felt like a walking target for Al-Shabaab, lol. She assures me I will ‘fit’ right in and no one will realize I am a ‘Diaspora’ Somali who probably have left her culture and religion behind! Cool, I am not sweating the little details and anything to get me to ‘blend in’ I will do. I dress in red and we start our visits with beneficiaries in Buulo Xuubey market in Wadajir district.