Abdelwahab, 13, Bossaso

UNICEF Somalia/ Morooka
© UNICEF Somalia/ 2011/ Morooka
Abdelwahab at Shabelle settlement for displaced people in Bossaso town, northeast Somalia.

As told to Iman Morooka

BOSSASO, Somalia, 30 March 2011: My name is Abdelwahab Abubakr. I am 13 years old and I live in Shabelle camp for displaced people in Bossaso [coastal town in Puntland, northeast Somalia]. I live in a hut with my mother, my four sisters and two brothers.

My father has passed away, so my mother and I work to support our family. My mother works as a garbage collector, while I work as a shoe shiner in the town of Bossaso. I used to attend grade 2 at the nearby Shabelle School in the settlement where we live, but I don’t go to classes anymore because I work to help my family.

I earn about $1-2 a day by shining shoes which I give to my mother at the end of the day to support my brothers and sisters. My two brothers and two of my sisters go to school. I don’t like shoe shining, because I want to be in school and the Madrasa [Quranic school]. Some people in town are not nice, because even after I shine their shoes, they refuse to pay me. They are usually the teenagers.

One year ago, as I was carrying my shoe-shining box, some men asked me to shine their shoes. They turned out to be pirates.

After I finished shining their shoes, they asked me if I want to work with them. But I said no because I don’t like them. When I told my mother and my relatives about this, they also told me to stay away from them. I have heard from other people and on the radio about pirates getting arrested and killed while they are out in the sea. I don’t watch television, but I listen to the radio. I like to listen to BBC Somali radio.

I hope to go back to school very soon because I want to learn. Although my mother wants me to help her, she also wants me to go to school.

I hope that one day I can go to a country where I can find work. I don’t care which country, as long as I can find a job that will bring me income.




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