Foosiyo’s son Ahmed was 16 when he decided to leave his hometown Hargeisa in Somaliland and try to reach Europe with the help of smugglers. Foosiyo knew nothing about his plans. One day he did not come home and the next morning a neighbour told her that he had travelled together with her own son and some other boys.
– “She knew that her son was leaving, he’d told them. But I knew nothing about my son and that’s how we found out.”
Foosiyo is a resourceful person and a well-known poet and social activist in her country. She contacted the parents of the seven missing youngsters, and they all went together to the prosecutor to take the smugglers to court. One of them had been caught and the identity of the other was also known. But the prosecutor decided to resolve the issue the informal way.
“We found out later the case wasn’t processed as it should have been. The prosecutor didn’t pass it on to court but resolved the issue unofficially by drafting an agreement, a letter that our children would be brought back within 40 days.They (the smugglers) signed it too, with their fathers and brothers as guarantors.”
But the boys were not brought back. They called their parents from Yemen and said they were being taken to Sudan against their will. Two months later the parents were contacted by traffickers who demanded big amounts of money for the release of the boys. Foosiyo was shocked. With great efforts she collected the ransom.
“We were sending them the money via money transfer companies. You must do it because your child is being detained. Your child is being eaten by hyenas, you must do whatever possible.”
When her son was not released and his kidnappers continued to harass her with phone calls, Foosiyo decided to ignore them. She realised that that was the only way to break their business tactics. With a heavy heart, she unconnected her phone and refused to take any more calls.
“I realised I was the person whose mind they wanted to damage. They contacted the mothers directly but not the fathers, in order to upset and shock them. I understood and left my destiny in God’s hands. If Ahmed was dying, I couldn’t stop it.”
Foosiyo still does not know what happened to her son, but she is determined to break the human smuggling mafia. She has harsh advice to her fellow parents: Stop sending ransom money to the traffickers! She is also conducting a campaign to raise awareness and shake people out of their passivity. With the voice of a prophetess, she demands action.
“Why are no laws issued about this? Why didn’t we see action, why is there silence? You scholars, what do you have?You university graduates, what do you have? You elders and intellectuals, what do you have? Do something better! Let’s stand up for the people! Protect the youth!”