When a stray bullet hit his uncle, the desperate search for a hospital in Somalia that could quickly operate on him to save his life had the entire family anxious.
That was to birth Ali Abas’ dream to study medicine and become a doctor.
Ali is currently a Class Seven pupil at the Mohamud Hilowle Primary and Secondary School in Mogadishu. An education facility that has been in existence for the past seven years and is providing young Somalis the freedom to dream big.
“I want to make a difference by providing the much-needed medical support to my people,” says Abas, with his classmates listening attentively as he tells the story of his uncle and the stray bullet.
As he tells he talks about his dreams, some of his classmates within earshot playfully chip in what they also want to be in future. Looking smart in bright yellow and blue uniform, they want to be engineers, religious leaders, pilots, business moguls, and so on.
After being in existence for seven years, the Mohamud Hilowle Primary and Secondary School is impacting positively on children within the community. The children are looking to a life better than what they have known, war.
The school was built by the African Union in Somalia, AMISOM in 2013. The ten classroom facility has a total of 460 pupils – 174 of them are girls.
Behind a perimeter wall in Tarbush Badbaado, Wadajir district, the school overlooks the Indian Ocean, and is close to displaced persons camps off the busy Mogadishu-Jazeera Road in Halane area. AMISOM built it mainly as an emergency response to assist the marginalised and displaced communities in its neighbourhood.
For many years the area was notorious for drug abuse among out-of-school youths. Militias roamed the Tarbush Badbaado neighbourhood, while suspected criminals used the ruined buildings as hideouts.
The nearest school to the community was 22 kilometres away, south of Mogadishu. Some parents spoke about their children’s daily commute for education.
“There was a day my son and his siblings were stoned by unruly boys on their commute home. They came home bleeding,” said Sahra Mohamed, a mother of six.
But the situation has changed as many of the youth now go to Mohamud Hilowle Primary and Secondary School, where their young minds and attitudes are being shaped.
Sahra Mohamed is relieved to have a school closer to home. Even better, the school is run as a universal public school, so no one pays tuition fees.
“Many of the children in the area were wasting away before this school was built. It is great to see all that youthful energy being channelled and shaped into productivity,” says Sahra. She regularly visits the school to follow up on her children’s education progress.
Eighteen-year-old Ummulkhayr Mohamed is another pupil of the school and she is confident that she is well on her way to be a paediatrician.
“Our country has few public hospitals and medical specialists because few people study medicine. I want to become a paediatrician,” she said.
The school’s Deputy Administrator, Mohamed Tamam, attributes its growing popularity within the community to the commitment of the teachers, and the free education.
“We have 19 good teachers who try their best to offer our children the best education, and that has helped us grow. Some of our pioneer students are now in Senior Two,” says Tamam.
Fatuma Ali and Khalif Mohamed, who teach primary and secondary school classes respectively, speak highly of the students’ enthusiasm towards academics.
“Our quality of education has enhanced public awareness of our school. The free education offered has encourage more parents to bring their children to school,” says teacher Khalif.
“Our students, especially the girls, are disciplined and keen to learn. As a woman, I also encourage the girls to study hard,” says teacher Fatuma.
However, the school’s teachers, students and parents believe that learning would be more enhanced if they could get a spacious field for children to play during break time, as the only space available for learning through play is a small cracked-up concrete yard, a danger to children.
A school bus and clinic for medical emergencies would also be welcome relief to teachers and pupils.
Thanks to the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) today, all public schools have qualified teachers who are paid promptly, thus boosting quality education delivery.
The AMISOM Senior Civil Affairs Officer, Dr. Opiyo Ododa, says AMISOM is committed to a peaceful and stable Somalia.
“As AMISOM, the youth are very important to us. We want to positively engage them so they can have a better future and build a prosperous Somalia,” says Dr. Opiyo.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Mission in Somalia.