Kafiya, 16, Galkayo
As told to Mike Pflanz
GALKAYO, Somalia, 9 March 2011: “My name is Kafiya Hassan Mohamed, and I live in Galkayo [northeast Somalia]. I am 16 years old, I have six sisters and three brothers.
“I was born in Mogadishu [Somalia’s capital], but when I was eight we ran away here to Galkayo, where my mother’s family lives, because of the war. My mother works at home. My father has been the breadwinner for us, he is a driver. Some days he earns money and we have bread and food, but other days there is nothing.
Until I was 12, I used to work at home helping my mother, there was nothing else to do. I liked to watch other children going to school, every day I thought that that was something I wanted to do, but how can I? There was no money for fees.
But then I heard on the radio about the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development. I heard that they helped girls from very poor families to have free education. Even the uniforms and the books were free. I could not believe this, but my neighbours told me it was true.
After many interviews when they checked the family income, and they asked me many questions about whether I had been to school – I had not, even though I was 12 – I started on this project.
I studied reading and writing, and maths at primary school, and then I joined vocational training where I learned to sew, cut materials and make clothes.
I have learned at school to work for myself, to earn an income, and I am using that money now to pay school fees at secondary school to continue my education. I earn an average of US$80 a month, I pay my mother US$20 to help at home, and the rest of the money I use to pay my school fees. I’m the only one in the whole family earning a regular wage.
My mother understands that it is education which has brought me to this point, she knows if I continue studying I can get a better job and even earn more money than I get today. She is very supportive.
What we make here are sanitary kits which are for use by school girls and girls in refugee camps who cannot afford the things you buy in shops.
I am very proud of my work. It is important because I’m helping girls to go to school, helping them to stay in class.
I am also proud because if I was not here I would still just be at home busy doing house work. I would be married, a housewife, someone who has no reason to go outside of the house. If I didn’t have this chance I would be an illiterate person who cannot read or write.
I’ll continue my school work, even go to university, and then really I want to have my own workshop with many people working for me making good things.”