Somalia: One Mother’s Unspeakable Loss

John Moore—Getty Images
John Moore—Getty Images
Safia Adem mourns the death of her son Hamza Ali Faysal, 3, in a camp of displaced Somalis within the rubble of the Cathedral of Mogadishu on August 13, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The malnourished child died of sickness two weeks after fleeing with his family from famine and drought in far southern Somalia. The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days from the crisis.

Returning, nearly two decades after covering Somalia’s last famine in the early ’90s, photographer John Moore writes on the current tragedy affecting a stricken country.

“I walked into the ruins of the cathedral with a half dozen bodyguards and my fixer Bashir. He had called ahead to inform the militia controlling that area we would be coming. We entered the crumbling structure to see dozens of small rounded huts packed inside the building. People fleeing famine and drought in the countryside had moved in to create a small internally displaced persons (IDP) camp right in the sanctuary.
A crowd was gathered in front of one of the huts. As we approached, Bashir asked them what was happening. He was told a child had died only shortly before we arrived. I peered inside at two men wrapping the body of three-year-old Hamza Ali Faisal in a sheet. They rolled the boy into a mat and a camp member carried the bundle down the cathedral steps to a cemetery.

I followed the small group for about a block when my security detail motioned for me to stay back. Located in an especially dangerous neighborhood, the cemetery wasn’t within safe walking distance. I returned to the church to find the boy’s mother, Safia Adem, looking out from her hut with a lonely gaze.

It has been nearly two decades since I was in Somalia last for the famine in the early ’90s. While the level of tragedy remains tragically unchanged, the world outside Somalia is a different place and I myself am a different person. As a young photographer, I was stunned by the death around me. These years later my hair is no longer blond and I have young children myself. In her moment of unspeakable loss, Safia was generous to allow me to photograph. I remain touched in a way that perhaps only a parent can understand, and I am still stunned.”

—John Moore

Related Topics: , , , ,

Latest Posts

U Ku Tha La, 38, head monk at Nang Mal Khon Phoe Pyar Monastery. Kaw Ku Village, Kayah State.

Transforming Lives in Burma, One Solar Panel at a Time

In Burma, where only a quarter of the population has access to electricity, solar panels can change lives, as Spanish photographer Ruben Salgado Escudero found out

Read More
Diana Walker—Contour by Getty Images for TIME

An Intimate Portrait of Hillary Clinton in Photographs

LOVED ONE LOST:NAME: Jabril BradleyAGE: 20DOB: 10/6/1990SEX: MaleDATE OF DEATH: 9/1/2011TIME: After MidnightLOCATION: 9th st and Ave of the States, Chester, PACIRCUMSTANCES LEADING UP TO MURDER: Bradley was riding his bike home from a friend’s house on the east side of Chester, September 1, 2011, when an unknown gunman opened fire. He was struck in the back once and continued to ride his bike home. A number of blocks later he collapsed to the ground from blood loss. He bled to death on the street. Bradley’s family claim that he was shot because of mistaken identity. According to his mother, Bradley was supposed to still be in prison. He was serving a sentence for possession of a controlled substance and was allegedly released before his time was up. Within weeks of his murder, the FBI came looking for Bradley at his mothers house, claiming that he got released by mistake. IN PHOTOGRAPH:NAME OF FAMILY MEMBERS: Sister to Jabril Bradley: Danita Harris, 30.Son to Danita Harris: Jah’lil Harris, 3.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 23, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,658 other followers