Peace school strengthens friendship
24 September, 2009, Galkayo, Northeast Somalia ('Puntland') - Sa’dia Salaad Yusuf is a 14 year old girl living in the Garsoor neighborhood of North Galkayo. Sowda Adan Elmi is 15 years old and lives in Wadajir, South Galkayo. Both girls attend level 2 non-formal education (NFE) class in Galkayo Peace School. Sa’dia and Sowda are not only classmates but also close friends whose friendship has brought together their two families, leading to strong bonds between them. Given a history of rivalry between inhabitants of North Galkayo and South Galkayo, at one time the friendship between the families would have been resisted. However, against odds, the two girls have transformed the relationship between their families for the better as Sa’dia says in her account below.
Sa’dia’s is the last-born daughter in a family of four girls and three boys. Her father died when she was young and the mother raised the family through her earnings from a small teashop in Galkayo town. “There were many times when we hardly had two meals. Before I enrolled in Galkayo Peace School I sometimes had to help my mum at the tea shop while she went to look for other means of supplementing her income,” says Sa’dia.
“My mother couldn’t afford to pay monthly school fees for me and my sister and brothers as well and I was not able to attend school regularly before the Galkayo Peace School opened in our neighbourhood. Before joining the Peace School I had learned write and read in irregular sessions at another school and from my friends as we played in the camp. Currently, I am in Non-Formal Education Level 2 and I am very happy to be learning and hope to complete primary level.”
Sa’dia expresses says the Peace School has offered her more than just an education, and has additionally given her ideas on how to live at peace with other people in addition to teaching her to be more confident.
The school has also enabled her to make friends among them Sowda Salad.
“Though she is from South Galkayo, and I am from the North, she is my best friend. We share a strong friendship which goes beyond school. In school we learn together in one class sharing a desk and textbooks. During class breaks we share stories and play games together. Now our families are friends and we even visit each other.
“ Before I met Sowda, I never knew children from South Galkayo. I believed what people said about the people of South Galkayo – that they were different from us and that we should not mix with them. But when I joined the school and met so many young people and finally befriended Sowda and other similar girls of her neighbourhood, I completely changed my mind. I found that we are the same people. They are human, friendly and as intelligent as we are.
“Socialising with Sowda in school and sharing a desk strengthened our friendship. We started to visit to each other at home. When we got familiar with each other’s family, I introduced my brothers to Sowda’s brothers, then our mothers got to know each other and became friends just like Sowda and I. I like her family so much and every member of her family likes me. I became accepted as a daughter in Sowda’s family and likewise she in our home. My family likes her good character.
“Had this Peace School not to been built through UNICEF support, I would not have received free education and met Sowda and other friends. My view of the world is now broader and I know that people from other parts of Somalia and even beyond are good people. In the future I want to be a teacher to be able to educate more children.”