Photo: Klaus Bo / Danish Refugee Council

“I am now earning a salary because of my donkey”

When most people think of a donkey, they think of it as a beast of burden but for 49-years-old Safia Hassan Guled, her donkey is her source of income, thanks to the grant that she has received from the Danish Refugee Council.


Safia is a refugee living in Ali-Addeh refugee camp in Djibouti’s southern region where she lives with her five children: two daughters and three boys. She came to this camp back in 2010 from Beletwyne, Somalia, where she and her husband lived. They are now separated and she is raising the five children all by herself.

Early every morning, Safia saddles up her donkey and heads to a nearby water point at the camp to fetch water so she can take it to a primary school within section III of the camp where she has a contract to supply water.

“This has become my life, for which I am very happy. I deliver water at the school three times a day, when school is open,” says Safia.

Right now she is taking a break from her daily routine as the schools are on holiday break, but she is still keeping busy. When we met up with her, she was busy loading 25 litres jerry cans onto the donkey - but this time the water was for her home. She asks us to follow her as she leads us to her small shelter composed of sticks and plastic sheets.

Expansion plans

“I am very happy with the assistance I received from DRC. I am now receiving a salary because of my donkey,” Safia says happily.

She explains that she sells a jerry can of water for 50 Djiboutian Francs and on a good month she receives about 14,000 Djiboutian Francs for the water she delivers to the school. With this money she is able to buy additional food for her children to supplement the food ration that they receive. She also uses part of the money to buy food for her donkey.

Safia has high expectations with her water business and hopes that she can get additional funding to expand her business and at the moment repair the water carriage on her donkey.

“I am very thankful that I have this donkey to help me and my family. If DRC gives me another grant, then I would buy another donkey and supply more water,” Safia concludes.

Safia is among a group of 125 refugees within Ali Addeh camp who have benefited from conditional cash grants amounting to USD 100 per person issued by DRC in March 2016. The beneficiaries of such grants are first taken through a business management training where they are taught basics of managing a business, book keeping and savings.