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Black History Month: #ProudToBe Somali-Kenyan

Islamic Relief has been a household name around the world since 1984. During that time, we’ve been working with communities to lift people out of poverty and help transform the lives of millions by providing them with their basic rights.

None of it would be possible without the support of our generous donors around the world, and the thousands of our colleagues globally, who have committed their lives to doing this incredible work.

An integral part of the legacy we’ve been able to build over these 37 years, has been our amazing people on the ground who have joined us for this journey.

So, we’re reaching out to our colleagues in the field to ask them about what inspires them to do the work that they do, how they came to join what is now a global humanitarian organisation and what makes them #proudtobe a part of the communities at the heart of their work.

Part of ensuring that the team we’ve built genuinely works to serve those in need, is making certain that our colleagues in the field are local experts, who understand how best to serve the communities they themselves are part of. It is guaranteeing that when aid is provided, the dignity of our sisters and brothers around the world is sustained and that we’re able to provide the best of care.

Localisation is essential to our life-saving work, and these are just some of our incredible colleagues in Kenya who make it possible. Sharing what makes her #proudtobe from Kenya, is Zaytoon:

somali-kenya staff black history month

Zaytoon, staff at Islamic Relief KenyaSalaam!

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourselves and how you came to work at Islamic Relief?


Wsalaam. My name is Zaytoon, and I work with Islamic Relief Kenya. I was born and brought up in Mandera county. I have been working with Islamic Relief Kenya in the child welfare department for 13 years now.


Q: What inspired you to work in the humanitarian sector and do the work you do?


I started working as an assistant, I was then promoted to supervisor, and now I’m an officer in the Orphan Sponsorship programme. I was inspired during one of my routine home visits for the orphan families, where I encountered scenarios of boys and girls who were discouraged about life. They were planning to drop out of school because of stress, a lack of support and peer pressure. As they’re orphans, they don’t have fathers who will support them, who will take care of them.


Q: What makes you #proudtobe a part of the community you’re helping to uplift?


I am proud to be a Somali-Kenyan. Somali people are ethnically of Cushitic ancestry and are Sunni Muslims. Our Somali community is held together by kinship ties. We are large families that respect and take care of each other even in this modern world. We always take care of our extended families and never discriminate against those in need.

I appreciate that religious teachings and values guide our lives.

I am proud to be a Kenyan. Kenya is an oasis of peace in a region where there are many conflicts. We live together as brothers and sisters despite being 44 different communities of various faiths.

Whenever a disaster occurs, Kenyans are there to support one another by donating towards food and other basic needs. I also appreciate the value and status of women in our society as guided by Islam.

I am so proud of the resilience and continued faith in Allah (SWT) despite living in challenging circumstances, even without basic needs like food and water.


Q: What parts of your work are you most proud of?


Being brought up as an orphan, I’m part of the challenges. I could relay my stories to them, and I advised them, making them realise the opportunities they have, because they have donors who are taking care of them, of whom are they are guardians at the moment.

Today, some of the children are working. They have finalised their studies, they are working as doctors, they are working as businesspersons, they are working as engineers, and now, they are supporting their families, alhamdullilah.


Save a child’s life today by donating to our Orphans and Children appeal here.

Donate to Islamic Relief today and help save lives.


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