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Child-to-child club brings hope for a better future to out-of-school children

UNICEF Somalia/2018/HornConnect
© UNICEF Somalia/2018/HornConnect
Mohamed speaks to his classmates as the head of the Child-to-Child Club in his school. KM 13 area, Mogadishu.

7 June 2018 - Mohamed Ali Sheikh, 11, is one of the 200 students enrolled at Aflah School in a camp for the displaced persons on the outskirts of Mogadishu.

“I arrived here a year ago with my family,” says Mohamed. “We escaped from our remote village because we had nothing left to eat. There was also constant fighting between AMISOM and Al Shabaab. So my parents decided to leave.”

Once arrived in the KM 13 area of Mogadishu, Mohamed’s family settled in a camp and the children were enrolled in the camp school. Mohamed’s leadership skills were soon recognized by his schoolmates and teachers, and he was elected to head the school’s child-to-child club.

One of the biggest tasks for Mohamed and his club members was to spread awareness of education and encourage more children to join their school.

“We reach out to the camp’s children, inform them about our school. We tell them how important it is to be a student, to carry books and pens,” explains Mohamed about his job.

Since the start of the awareness campaign three months ago, Mohamed and his fellow students have managed to convinced nine children to be enrolled as fulltime students.

“At first, we ask the children to visit our school and see what’s going on there. Next day, we would find them standing there, ready to join us. That’s how we do it,” he says. “Our message is very simple: ‘please join our school, it is free’. For each child joining us, it’s a big victory for us.”

From time to time, Mohamed and his team encounter refusals. “Some parents can be difficult - they prefer their children to stay home, work and earn money to help with the family,” says Mohamed. When this happens he uses his own experience to try to convince the parents.

“Where I came from, there were no schools. Boys like me herd goats every day, that’s the most important job for us,” says Mohamed. “But now, things are different. I am in school and learning. I can afford to have a dream.”

Mohamed’s dream is to become a teacher one day so that he can help other children, including those from his home village, to also realize their dreams.

With the help of children like Mohamed and his child-to-child club members, and the generous funding support from donors, including the Government of Sweden, UNICEF and partners will continue to reach more children with education, especially those affected by the ongoing drought and conflict.

 

 
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