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October 22, 2018

One year later, daughter pays tribute to mum killed in attack

The late Woki Munyui
The late Woki Munyui

On April 20 2015, a suicide bomber blew himself up next a bus carrying staff from UNICEF Somalia in Garowe, Puntland. Four people were killed, including Woki Munyui who had been a champion of girls’ education in Somalia since 2007. Her eldest daughter Ivy Mokua shares memories of her late mother, and how she has been dealing with the tragic loss.


It’s been one year since mum was taken away from us, and I am still unable to put my thought about that day in order.

That Monday started like any other normal day. I went through my daily routine as usual-wake up, work out, text mum and so on. But then my father called, telling me to quickly rush to his place as we needed to talk urgently. So my sister Lucy and I dashed over. The moment I saw his face, I knew something terrible had happened. My world, our family’s world, shattered at that moment. The very person who was so true and dear to me was taken away from me – so crudely and senselessly. I have never felt such pain.

It was also at that moment my life changed from being just a 20-year-old enjoying her youth to one with 45-year-old responsibilities. Being the first born, I knew I had to step up. But how could I ever fill the shoes of a woman who seemed to do it all so easily without breaking a sweat?

A year has gone by and it still seems like a dream. I have been hoping that one day I will wake up and see her doing her morning exercises before jetting off to work, hear her ordering us around to do our chores or boasting in front of Lucy and I when she’s all dressed up on the weekends. No matter how much I have hoped for it to happen, it never does.

The void left inside of me when she was taken away from us is so deep. Nothing has been able to replace her, and nothing will.

I miss her. But I know the best way to preserve my memory of her, is to be as much her daughter as possible - diligent, hardworking, joyous, kind, honest and always be generous and loving to others.

We will not let her legacy die.

She was enthusiastic about education and worked for Unicef Somalia as an education specialist. She traveled to Somalia time and time again, knowing all too well the risks and danger. But she did it without any hesitation. She worked hard on project after project; wanting to make a difference in childrens' lives, especially girls. She knew the value of books and pens, as she herself was a shining example of overcoming great obstacles through education. And with her skills and experience as an English teacher, she was so good at it.

After work, she was equally passionate about life. Being a fitness enthusiast, she would wake up at five o'clock in the morning and ensure that I too, was in the gym with her. Fitness and good health was very important for our family. When any marathon came up, believe me she was there running.

With these two passions that she held close to her heart, The Woki Education Trust was born. Its goal is to educate children from marginalised communities, including those surviving conflict in Kenya. Our first event will be The Woki Education Trust Run to be held on May 8. We are planning to have it annually, to raise funds to support these children and help them realise their dreams through education.

It’s been a long journey, and it still is, it slowly sinks in day by day, some days slower than others. I don’t know whether the pain will cease to exist, but I still feel her love for me, far stronger and greater, and this makes me stronger today than I was yesterday.

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