A young boy goes to school for the first time
Access to education opens a world of opportunity for displaced children
Ten-year-old Mohamud was taken to a strange compound by his mother and after a short conversation between a man and his mother, he was left in the company of a young woman with a book and chalk in her hand. This lady was the teacher, whose name is Fartun, and the man was the headmaster of Ladan IDP school for internally displaced chidren, in the outskirts of Dollow town, which borders Ethiopia. The young boy wanted to cry but was too frightened even to utter a word, he did not know where he was, everything was strange to him, and everyone looked mean and scary. The teacher grabbed him by the hand and took him to the classroom, she uttered, “welcome to school young man” in what seemed like a strange and at the same time friendly tone. He immediately sat down on the spot the teacher pointed to, right in the middle of two other young boys on a desk meant for three pupils.
The attention quickly turned towards the teacher who scribbled some strange writing on the blackboard and the pupils immediately followed up by opening their notebooks and jotting down the peculiar writing. This was too overwhelming for little Mohamud, he could not comprehend what was going on and where he was, all he wanted to do was to run as fast as he could back home. Luckily for Mohamud, after a short while the bell rang and all the children run out to the playing field. He was left there in class all alone and in bewilderment, however the teacher went to him and assured him that all is well and that this was the beginning of a life-changing experience for him.
With time, little Mohamud got the hang of it and it all made sense, the drawings on the blackboard, the early morning songs and the writing on the notebooks. It’s the small things that make a difference and, in this case, it was his teacher who always took time with him after breaks to assure him and build his confidence in school. Rarely do teachers know whether they make lasting impressions on students and finding out they did can be one of the most profound rewards of all. His teacher Fartun realized that Mohamud’s performance in class and his attitude had changed tremendously due to her support to the young learner.
Little Mohamud lives with his parents in Ladan IDP camp and has three younger siblings at home. He often practices what he has learned in school with them and tries to teach them the basics of Arabic and Somali language. Every day he wakes up, he cannot wait to get to school, interact with his classmates, and learn new things.
“Mohamud and to an extent his parents have not let the fact that they live in an IDP camp hinder them from giving their child an opportunity to learn at this temporary learning centre. Ever since he was enrolled, he has performed remarkably well and is eager to learn every day,” says Fartun. “There is a powerful bond between me and not only Mohamud but all the children. When they are happy, I feel at peace. On the other hand, when something happens to them, I feel a deep unease,” explains Fartun. “That is why I will fight until the last day for their happiness. And this will come to pass through quality 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 Government of Germany through KfW Development Bank, the Government of Finland, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), children are provided with clean, safe drinking water for daily consumption, teaching and learning materials and 50 teachers are provided with monthly incentives.