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Somalia, 1 November 2016: Meeting the children in southern Somalia who have never seen a school – or a football

© Hirda/2016/Abdinasir
UNICEF staffer Yahye Ibrahim demonstrates a solar powered radio, part of an education kit delivered to remote communities in southern Somalia.

By Yahye Abdi Ibrahim

DOLLOW DISTRICT, GEDO, Southern Somalia, 1 November 2016 – It was a bright, hot morning when I set off for my three-day trip to visit nomadic communities in south Somalia to discuss the ways to bring education to their children. The wind was blowing from the south and dense dust hung in the atmosphere. The last rainy season had ended prematurely and the current one had not even started.

The settlements were scattered far apart in the bush and, with only small paths to follow, it was easy to get lost. Many families had left the area due to the drought. When I finally reached the communities and explained to the elders, parents and children that UNICEF wanted to bring education to their villages, they were delighted.

Whenever I visited a community, I handed over a large cardboard carton containing a School-in-a-Box which consists of supplies and materials for a teacher and up to 40 students. It includes basic school supplies, such as exercise books, pencils, erasers and scissors, a radio and laminated posters (maps, alphabet, multiplication and number tables). I also brought out recreational kits which included footballs and skipping ropes. I saw that those in settlements closer to the main town of Doolow knew how to use the football, But those in remote areas had never even seen a football. Parents and children enjoyed seeing a map of the world on a large inflated ball.

© Hirda/2016/Abdinasir
UNICEF educationalist Yahye Ibrahim talks to 13 year old goat herder Ahmed who has never been to school during a trip to several nomadic villages in Gedo.

There was particular interest in the solar powered school radio which will allow the school children and the community at large to get news updates. I demonstrated how to use the radio and charge it and managed to tune into the BBC and Star FM.

Gabobe Shide, the Head of Abdi Lohow village, said that having the UNICEF educational kit would provide opportunities for children. He said, “This will help children have access to education and parents will have no excuse for not sending their children to school.”

While traveling in one of the most remote areas, I met 13 year old Ahmed Hussein herding goats. He began looking after them when he was eight, currently tends nearly 150 goats and can identify them all. He is the eldest of nine children, none of whom had ever been inside a classroom as their village did not have a school.

When I asked Ahmed if he would like to join a school if one was set up in his village, he replied with big smile that he would love to attend. “I want to go school if our village gets a school,’’ he said.

The communities were all excited about the anticipated pastoral project. They saw it as benefitting the children and also helping their communities to develop not just now but for years to come.



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