Providing education opportunities to displaced children

Nurto's journey from breadwinner to clever learner

Ali Mudey
Nurto (right) talks to a UNICEF project officer.
UNICEF Somalia/2022/Mudey
07 March 2022

Nurto Abey Mohamed, 13, fled her home in Bay Region in 2018 and came to Busley Village in Luuq District. The journey took 14 days and along the way, she lost her father. The oldest of five children, Nurto, her mother, and siblings had no relatives to support them with their basic needs. Hunger and poverty forced her to look for work to help feed and clothe her family.

Nurto found work as a housemaid for a family in Luuq town. With the little money she made, she was able to help her family and relieve much of their suffering.

One day, officials from the Himilo Relief and Development Association (HIRDA), a UNICEF education partner working in the Gedo Region, were on a mobilization visit to Busley village when they came across Nurto. Through the Community Education Committee (CEC), the mobilization team was told about Nurto’s situation, emphasizing that she fit the profile of girls who needed to be enrolled in school.

The mobilization team sat down with Nurto and her mother and enquired about her education background. Nurto was lost for words as she struggled to hold back tears. After composing herself, she explained that she was a breadwinner for the family and did not have a chance to go to school.

The HIRDA team, together with the CEC and school head, persuaded Nurto’s mother to allow her children to go to school, and the following year, Nurto was enrolled in grade one at Busley Primary School. She was among children that benefitted from a cash grant for vulnerable children, and she used the money to buy school uniforms and food and pay for tuition. The grant encouraged her to stay in school.  

Busley Primary School has a school feeding program which provides breakfast and lunch to school children. The meals helped Nurto and her schoolmates to concentrate on schooling as hunger was no longer a problem. Now in Standard 4, Nurto is known at the school for her cleverness; she helps her classmates to read the lessons as well as helping in the lower classes.

Nurto is determined to complete her studies and become a teacher so that “I can help meet the educational needs of the poor in my area,” she says.

Since 2018, UNICEF and the World Food Programme have been implementing a programme to strengthen the resilience of communities in Somalia prone to the adverse effects of climate change. Supported by the Government of Germany through KfW, the programme includes increasing school enrolments especially of girls, providing school meals, and strengthening the capacity of families to withstand climate related shocks like droughts and floods. In the third phase of the programme, which was launched in November 2021, the Food and Agriculture Organization was brought on board to strengthen livelihoods of targeted families.