Umalkhayr’s story

“There are no qualified female nurses in our health centre, so I am going to fill this gap and treat poor and vulnerable people"- Umalkhayr

Kun Li
UNICEF Somalia/2018
18 January 2018

Umalkhayr Ali Dahir, who lives in Lasodawo village in Somaliland, never had the chance to go to school before. Her father died a year ago, when she was eight, and she had been helping her mother.

“I used to spend my day supporting my mother who collects and sells firewood to the teashops to get our daily bread,” she said.

In Umalkhayr’s village many families are agro-pastoralists depending on their farms and livestock. Many children help in the house or on the land chasing birds, monkeys and other animals away from the farms.

Umalkhayr’s mother had the chance to take part in a social mobilization campaign conducted by YOVENCO (UNICEF’s partner) and the Ministry of Education and Higher Studies (MoEHS) in Sahil region, Somaliland to persuade parents to bring their children to school.

Social mobilization teams and Community Education Committee (CECs) involving community leaders targeted families and villages such as Umalkhayr’s that had children out of school.

After attending a session, Umalkhayr’s mother decided to enroll three of her children of school going age - two daughters and a son in the nearby school but did not have enough money to buy uniforms, books and pens. Seeing the potentials of enrolling more children and with support from the Educate a child (EAC) project, the CEC and community leaders pledged to buy the materials as their contribution.

The Lasodawo School where Umalkhayr was enrolled has eight classrooms and 10 toilets (four for boys, four for girls and two for teachers) and trained teachers. This school also provides a break time snack and lunch for the children.

UNICEF Somalia/2018
Umalkhayr's mother with her children including the three of enrollment age who now go to school.

Umalkhayr’s mother reported that there are many families that don’t send their children to the school because they cannot afford the uniform, books or stationery.

UNICEF’s partnership with YOVENCO and the MoEHS through the EAC-supported education programme is working to improve the education situation of marginalized and poor families by distributing school materials including textbooks, books and pens to children.

Through the grant from EAC, UNICEF is providing education and learning supplies to over 300 schools, constructing, rehabilitating and furnishing classrooms, training teachers and head teachers and providing school management training to the CEC’s.

Umalkhayr is enjoying the school which is close to her home and hopes her other siblings will join her when they reach the enrolment age. She is glad the EAC supported education project is in her community and enabling children like her to attend school. Her ambition is to be a qualified nurse to help poor and vulnerable families as there are no qualified female nurses in their local health centre.