A midwife in the making
By Woki Munyui, Education Specialist, UNICEF Somalia
September 2012 - Twenty year old Warsan Mohamed is a young woman with ambitions to support her family and her community. She is currently a student at Bosaso College of Health Sciences, in Bosaso town, the second largest city in Puntland.
In her childhood, Warsan witnessed her mother struggling to make ends meet. Born in the countryside to a nomadic family, where her father rears goats for a living, Warsan was sent to Bosaso to live with her aunt so that she could pursue her education. Having excelled in her secondary school, Warsan was admitted easily to the College.
Warsan’s determination for education overcame several obstacles. She didn’t have the means to pay for her courses, nonetheless the college administrator agreed to admit her on condition that she would pay her fees within the first semester.
In spite of being the best pupil in her class, Warsan was at the point of dropping out, as she could not raise the fees required. Her classmates, who had grown fond of her, collected funds from everyone in the class and sure enough Warsan was able to pay her first semester fees.
The announcement of the Accelerated Fund for Female Participation in Education (AFPE), a fund providing scholarships for girls was a major opportunity for Warsan. As she completed her application forms, she prayed that she would be selected.
“I want to be a midwife to save Somali women from suffering and death caused by pregnancy related complications. Since childhood, I have witnessed my mother and aunties suffering,” said Warsan.
The memory of a relative who bled to death after birth was always with her. “She was bleeding and the traditional attendant could not stop the bleeding. I was horrified by the sight of blood. When we finally managed to take her to hospital, it took so long to determine her blood group. Finally this was done but it was too late, she died,” said Warsan with tears in her eyes.
Warsan is studying human anatomy, pharmacology, community health, gynaecology among other related subjects. She enjoys midwifery and gynaecology lessons best. Every day she walks for half an hour to be in class at 6.30 am.
Warsan has developed self-confidence and high self-esteem. She commands respect amongst her peers. She feels sorry for most of her friends who are not studying and looks forward to the day she will be able to support girls in her community.
It costs USD1,050 for a girl to complete a three year diploma course in nursing and midwifery. However, Warsan’s dream to be a midwife has come true through the AFPE scholarships. With funds from the European Commission, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education have been implementing the project for the benefit of 184 girls across all levels of education in Puntland at a cost of USD 150,000 per academic year.