Abdimajid Hassan, 19, was just nine years old when his family fell victim to violence in his home country of Somalia, with his mother shot and uncle killed. They fled to the closest place where they could find peace: Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado district.
In Dollo Ado, there are 219,284 Somalian refugees who live among an estimated 140,000 ‘host’ Ethiopians. Although Abdimajid has access to school, the opportunities for his future are limited, since refugees currently cannot work or own land in Ethiopia, and while conflict continues in Somalia, returning home is not an option. But while the host populations can work, there are limitations and challenges due to a lack of services. The region is burdened with poverty and continual droughts, which all its residents – both Ethiopian-hosts and Somalian-refugees face.
UNICEF has been working with partners to bring equal opportunities for children in all refugee-hosting regions of Ethiopia. In Dollo Ado, with the financial support from USAID, UNICEF partnered with NGO Right to Play to introduce play-based learning and integrated sports activities between refugees and host children, to create engaging learning environments and support the social cohesion among communities. In addition, UNICEF is investing in the construction of a new inclusive secondary school that will service both refugees and host communities, since opportunities for education beyond primary school is limited in the region.
Through these interventions, Abdimajid is making new friends, getting fit, becoming more engaged in learning, and has hopes to attend the newly established secondary school and continue his schooling with his new friends next year.
This photo essay tells the story of Abdimajid’s journey in Ethiopia, the struggles he and his family have faced and what opportunities education and sports has provided him and other refugee and host-community children in Dollo Ado.
 UNHCR Aug 2018
 CSA Projection for 2017/18; This includes Somali-speaking inhabitants from Ethiopia’s Somali region who live in areas that ‘host’ refugees.