This is Asma. She was born in Smara refugee camp. So was her mother Fatimatu. Her grandparents were born in Western Sahara, a disputed territory in North West Africa. They fled to the Sahrawi refugee camps in 1976 during the war between Morocco and the Polisario when Western Sahara stopped being a Spanish colony.
They have lived in Smara for 45 years waiting for a referendum to decide who should govern their homeland.
There are nearly 200,000 people living in the camps in a very inhospitable corner of the Sahara desert. They run the camps on a very democratic basis and have set up schools and hospitals. They have one of the highest literacy rates in Africa and many people have university degrees.
The Sahrawi people are well known for their resourcefulness and determination but for food and water they are dependent on handouts from the World Food Programme. With the current refugee crisis across the world the amount of food each family receives is getting less. One of the main things missing from the diet is fresh vegetables which we all need to stay healthy. Because of a lack of fresh food 44% of the women and 39% of the children suffer from anaemia. (UNHCR)
Asma's mum Fatimatu has set up a group who want to start a community project to grow their own vegetables for the people in the camp. They have done a lot of research and planned and costed everything.
Because of the harsh conditions, extreme temperatures and lack of water in the desert it is very hard to grow vegetables. However, in the nearby town vegetables are grown successfully in greenhouses but this is expensive to set up.
We need your help.
Help the Sahrawi to help themselves.
We have raised £23,000 so far to get the project started, money for the greenhouse and money for the initial running costs until the project starts to pay for itself and hopefully expand.
We are now moving on to phase 2 which is to raise £13,000 to dig a well which would meant the project would become fully sustainable and no money would need to spent buying in water
In her own words Fatimatu explains the aims of the group
“Our long term aim is to grow everything that we need in the camps and not be reliant on humanitarian aid because now they’ve already had to shrink it to half, by tomorrow there might not be any so I want us to have our own small economy to rely on ourselves. We have electricity, we can dig wells for water, we can improve the soil. We have skilled and qualified people who are keen to be self reliant but due to the circumstances of the refugee status are unable to find work”
Please have a look at our website to find out all about the Sahrawi people, how the project came about and much more detail of the costings and how and why this project will work.
If you do not know about the plight of the Sahrawi then I would ask you to read about them on the website as they are often called the forgotten people - nearly 200,000 people waiting for over 40 years to be able to go home. Making the best life they can in the most inhospitable part of the Sahara Desert.
Let us show we haven't forgotten them. Please please read about our project and if you agree it is a worthwhile project then please donate and share this and lets get it off the ground. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
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Western Sahara Support Group
Manchester, North West England, United Kingdom
Western Sahara Support Group
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