Building dreams, one lesson at a time
Bringing school closer to internally displaced children
After a one-hour drive on the rugged terrains of Southern Somalia, we reach an IDP camp on the outskirts of Dollow town. The orange plastic sheets and the sticks that make up the makeshift shelters in the area can be seen from a distance. In between the shelters, there is a temporary learning center that stands out due to the number of classes and children moving in and out. We meet little Hodan, a young 11-year-old girl walking to her morning class. It is a one km journey that she makes every day from her home to the school. She was dropped off by her mother, who was also heading to the market.
"My daughter’s education used to be my biggest concern, this is what used to keep me awake at night. It truly was a source of worry and anxiety,” says Katra, a displaced mother of three living in Ladan IDP camp in Dollow. “My family and I have gone through several challenges, one of them was fleeing our home in Dinsoor to not only escape the biting drought conditions in the area but also secure a bright future for our children. If we fail to secure their education as a family, then it is almost as if there will have been no point in all the challenges we have gone through to be here. We fled our home not just for safety reasons but to ensure our children access quality education that will change their lives and ours as well,” says Katra. “Dropping off my child today at this school fills me with immense pride, making the challenges and our journey to come here worthwhile,” Katra concludes.
"I am happy to be going to school because I get to learn new things and meet my friends,” says Hodan. “I used to feel bad whenever I saw other children of my age going to school back home, and I always used to wonder why not me, why I am I not like them.” Providing children with access to education has always been a priority for UNICEF, and in Somalia, UNICEF has been making a difference by ensuring that thousands of displaced children like Hodan have access to education.
"When Hodan was enrolled in this temporary learning space, she could not read, write, nor count up to 10. However, she is a very determined and bright young girl that is always inquisitive and today, Hodan has caught up and is among the best pupils in this class, “says her teacher, Hassan. Getting a well-rounded education helps children find their strengths and interests, this is even more important in Somalia and in a displacement context like Dollow. The education offered at the learning centers are designed and curated to prepare them for a life full of learning and gives them a foundation for a future career. Hodan’s mother has longed for this and was one of the main reasons she fled to Dollow, to give her child access to education.
In Dollow, UNICEF, through its partner Himilo Relief and Development Association (HIRDA) has been active in addressing the educational needs of children, specifically through the construction of Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS), supporting a total of number of 2,566 children including 1,252 girls. Through the current education in emergencies programming supported by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CEFF), the Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Government of Finland and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), children are provided with clean, safe drinking water for daily consumption, learning materials and 50 teachers are provided with monthly incentives.