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Kenya, 15 September 2015: A convert to peace building

© UNICEF
Mahado Aden Omar

 
DADAAB, Kenya, 15 September 2015 – Mahado Aden Omar (17), and her family arrived in Dadaab as one of the many refugees who flocked there as a result of the Horn of Africa famine of 2011.

She is in now class six at Hilal Primary School, Kambioos, Head Girl at the school and a member of both the Peace Education Club and of Girl Guides, two of the UNICEF PBEA initiatives in Dadaab, Kenya. “Girl Guides is the only place I can confidently and freely express my issues with other girls. It helps girls to have a wider scope of living together, in harmony, without discrimination or violence,” Mahado says.

Girl Guides has given her the chance to interact with girls from other classes, schools and camps. Further, she now knows she can learn a lot from other girls regardless of their tribe, race or religion.

Mahado was fortunate to attended Founder’s Day celebrations in Nyeri, north of Nairobi, Kenya, and made friends from all around – and outside of – Kenya.

Whilst there, she was fascinated by the way girls interacted and shared freely as sisters, something she had never witnessed in her first 17 years of life: “Why can we not extend this kindness, love respect, peace and sisterhood to Somalia,” she wonders aloud to a UNICEF staff member. She says peace education has impacted her life enormously; from the conflict resolution skills she has been taught to the values that steered her towards a positive outlook on life. She can now examine and discuss values and attitudes in a diversified way and can think critically about conflict and violence in order to solve problems amicably.

Mahado laments that this program cannot extend to war-torn Somalia in order to restore normalcy and sanity there. She says “such a noble project should be supported and extended to our country, Somalia, to create an environment where people respect each other regardless of their tribe and solve their differences without turning to violence.”

This bright young girl is equally emotional about the violence and misfortunes that have taken place in the camps, particularly earlier this year: “The situation is worrying, especially the call to close the camps. I fear being forcefully repatriated to a country that has never had peace. My parents fled from Somalia to seek peace and education, which we’ve found in abundance here in Kenya. Closing the camps would certainly shatter my dreams in education, and for eventually becoming a nurse.”

 

 
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