University graduates join forces to teach children and adults from IDP communities

Internally Displaced People in Somalia lack almost everything. They lack the basic necessities of housing, food, water, healthcare and education. Some receive help from the Somali government and the rest of the world but this is usually in the form of food, shelter and healthcare.

Education is usually missing from the list despite the provision of ‘quality education for all’ being number four on the United Nations’ list of Sustainable Development Goals. As most of those living in Somalia’s IDP camps are women, children and the elderly, it is these groups that are missing out on their basic right to learn.

Despite the daily challenges of life in Mogadishu, a group of university students have got together to teach for free 350 children, teenagers and women who live in an IDP camp on the outskirts of the city.

“We founded Raji-Beer school to give uneducated women and children an opportunity to learn to read and write,” says Hassan Raage, the director of the group. “We are entirely self-funded, paying for everything ourselves.”

Boys and girls attend the classes, but most of the students are girls. Their mothers come to school in that afternoons. Parents and their children are learning to read and write together.

In the past many of the women really struggled to use their phones to send and receive money electronically. They learned how to do this in the classes taught by the university students and are now confident users of mobile money services.

“These IDP mothers and children are the people who deserve more than any others to be supported by the government and humanitarian groups,” says Hassan. “I call on the authorities to stand by these people and give them the help they need.”

10-year-old Mohamed Ahmed Mohamud and 12-year-old Nasteexo Maaji Ibraahim say the free school has changed their lives.

“I am learning maths and Somali at Raji-Beer school,” says Mohamed. “The volunteer teachers have really helped us. My mother and I study in the same school. I would like to be like other children who wear uniforms and go to normal schools.”

Nasteexo explains how she studies the Qur’an, Somali and maths at the school. “I would like to study other subjects too like science, English, social affairs and technology so I can compete with students and other schools,” she says.

“Children who go to regular school think we can’t learn”, she says. “They think we are weak.”

Mohamud’s mother Ruqiyo Abdi Ali is studying alongside her son.

“I have just started learning how to write the Somali alphabet,” she says. “I love to learn and would like to keep studying here for as long as possible. When I was a child I had no time to go to school. We lived in the countryside and my job was to look after the younger children so I missed out on an education.”

Ruqiyo describes how the volunteer teachers gave her two books – one for maths, the other for Somali. She is also studying the Qur’an.

“I love studying alongside my son,” she says. “He helps me with my lessons.”

“When people hear about IDPs, they think the only thing we need is food. That is not true. We also need education,” says Ruqiyo. “Please give others in need the opportunity to study so they, like me, can expand their minds.”

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