Aid Somali Refugee Women in Kenya

Emergency Relief

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Massive amounts of violence and social instability within Somalia have caused many people to flee the country at any cost. In the year 2008 alone, approximately 60,000 Somalis crossed into Kenya to escape the turmoil of their country. When young Somali girls arrive to Kenya, a country which borders Somalia to the west, they are often without family and cut off from reliable support systems. They become easy targets for manipulation and physical abuse, including rape.

The Safe House

In the fall of 2009 Zakat Foundation began supporting a Safe House and a Tailor Training Program that directly benefits these vulnerable Somali refugee girls, as well as Ethiopian and Eritrean refugee girls who have found their way to Nairobi, Kenya.

The Safe House, which is located in a calm neighborhood in Nairobi, provides temporary shelter to refugee girls between the ages of 13 to 19, and on an exceptional basis, refugee women and young refugee boys who would otherwise be homeless or living in physically abusive situations. Some are survivors of rape; others have seen their family members murdered. Zakat Foundation’s partner organization, Heshima Kenya, focuses on protecting unaccompanied refugee children in Kenya and advocating on their behalf within Kenyan society and with government and United Nations officials.

The Safe House offers the girls a peaceful environment in which to gain the emotional and material support needed to recover from the trauma of their past experiences and endeavor towards their future goals. While living there, they can receive counseling and medical care. Some of the residents also participate in the skills building sewing class which Zakat Foundation also supports.

The Sewing School

In an effort to promote self-sufficiency, Zakat Foundation is also supporting an innovative training program that teaches the women sewing and tie-dye skills. Tie-dye is a popular technique for producing Somali women’s clothes. A professional tailor teaches the girls a basic tailoring curriculum for a period of three months. Amongst the items the girls have made to date, include pillowcases and scarves. They are also learning the art of embroidery. Through the tailoring program, girls learn skills that, insha'Allah, will allow them to generate income for themselves as they eventually sell the pieces they make in class and perhaps later on go into business for themselves.

Miriam, who is currently a student of the program, says that her long term plans include opening an institute of fashion and design. An added benefit to the tailoring program is that many girls find therapeutic assistance from the process of designing and producing pieces. One girl, by the name of Seble, says that despite all the trauma of her past, the work in the tailoring class allows her to put her problems aside , even if only temporarily.

Some of the girls who attend the tailoring classes live with their families in the large refugee camps that populate Kenya’s North Eastern Province and are said to be the largest refugee settlements in the world with about 260,000 people.

The tailoring program enables them to imagine a future beyond the extreme poverty and deprivation within which they currently live. It is through the generosity of our donors that Zakat Foundation can continue to be a positive force in the lives of these resilient refugee girls.


Zakat Foundation of America, a Muslim charity that collects zakat, sadaqa / donations to provide humanitarian, emergency relief and sustainable development programs to empower lives throughout the world. We offer top Zakat resources including The Zakat Handbook: A Practical Guide for Muslims in the West, Zakat kit, ask an Imam feature, and you can calculate and pay zakat through our easy, online calculator.

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