Emergency - In Hafun, a girl’s dream comes true
By Alhaji Bah*
UNICEF’s latest ‘Progress for Children’ report, on gender parity and primary education, is part of the many efforts by partners in the world community to ensure that opportunities for going to school are equally available to both girls and boys. The report complements the work of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative and the Gender Achievement and Prospects in Education (GAP) project, both supported by UN agencies, governments, donor countries, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and communities and families. The Progress for Children - A Report on Gender Parity and Primary Education, Number 2, April 2005 was released on 18 April 2005.
Taken from the Somali context, the story below tells of how one girl's dream for education in Somalia came true.
HAFUN, Somalia, 7 April 2005 – Nine-year old Faduma Farah Aden always wanted to go to school but never thought she would have the chance. Like most of the girls in Hafun, a fishing village in northeast Somalia, she was resigned to spending her days looking after sheep and fetching firewood. However, that all changed the day the Indian Ocean tsunami struck the Somalia coastline.
Following the disaster of 26 December 2004, UNICEF supported the establishment of temporary classrooms in Hafun and the distribution of teaching, learning and recreational materials, including UNICEF’s school-in-a-box kits. After their lives were disrupted by the tsunami, the girls were encouraged to attend school. Faduma jumped at the opportunity.
Now, thanks to UNICEF’s support, the temporary school will soon be replaced by a permanent building. On 6 April, Mohamud Muse Hirsi “Adde,” the President of the northeast Somalia region of Puntland lay a symbolic foundation stone on the future site of a new four-classroom structure in Hafun. The school will be large enough to hold students from the temporary facilities as well as new students from nearby villages. It will include a playground, an office, a storeroom, and a community hall.
At the ceremony, the President promised that his administration will recruit at least six teachers for the school and asked UNICEF to support the construction of two additional classrooms in the near future.
Faduma pointed at the new site and said, “That is where I used to shepherd goats with my other girl friends. As we sat under the shades of shrubs, we always hoped and prayed that we would have the chance of going to school. Today we are going to school in our own village.”
With one dream realised, Faduma has another. In addition to the school, she hopes her village will soon have a hospital. She wants to be a nurse but her parents won’t let her practice outside the village. Faduma is undeterred. She knows that dreams do come true.
*Alhaji Bah is UNICEF’s Resident Project Officer in Northeast Somalia (‘Puntland’).